. The interesting part of this “priority” is that usually the more we think of the “scientific value” of a certain ancient passage, the more likely we are to mistranslate that passage.
. I have made a similar study on two other catagories of Mengxi Bitan, see Daiwie Fu 1993-1994. In a similar spirit, Lei Hsianglin and I published another paper entitled “Language and Similarity in the Dream Brook – A Study of Prognostication, Divine Oddities, and Strange Events in Mengxi Bitan” (Lei Hsianglin and Fu Dawei 1993). For a further theoretical elaboration of this key concept of “taxonomy” in connection with the late professor Kuhn’s ideas on taxonomy, see Daiwie Fu 1995a. In the appendix of my article in Chinese Science just cited (Daiwie Fu 1993-1994), I have argued that the 17 categories of Mengxi were really Shen Gua’s own taxonomy.
. The edition I used for this study is based on Hu Daojing’s critical edition of Mengxi Bitan (Mengxi Bitan jiaozheng), with the standard numerical ordering of 609 jottings in total.
. As mentioned above, Zazhi is not the final category of Mengxi; it is the 16th. However, in a careful study of the 17th category, Yaoyi, we find that this category is probably not in the conceptual structure of Mengxi but appended, as it were, from the outside. This idea comes from a manuscript “Shen Gua ‘Yixue’ yanjiu ji ‘Yaoxing’ chutan” by Guo Wenhua , written in my seminar of Mengxi Bitan in Tsing-Hua University (Guo Wenhua 1996). This finding provides strong evidence for us to say that Zazhi is conceptually a final, residual (dis-)category of Mengxi.
. In the total 71 jottings of Zazhi (including those in the Supplement Bu Bitan), I can find only two jottings concerning events that happened in the capital of Northern Song. One is jotting 466, the other is jotting 572. The interesting thing about jotting 572 is that it involves the son Mo Zhan of the former king of the barbarous Xiqiang , thus this story is indirectly connected to the barbarous foreign lands. Jotting 466, although it concerns an anecdote about one Song emperor, is very unconventional or even unorthodox. As to some other possible “exceptions”, three jottings are about military exercises (475, 578, 579) and two about the (borders) maps made for the dynasty (472,575). They are all related to the issues of how the political center is to deal with the troubles in the marginal or foreign lands.
. In jotting 581, Shen admired Yangzhou in the Tang dynasty. In jotting 458, he talks about an interesting Tang custom and its legacy in Liangzhi . In jotting 438, he writes about an ancient tomb in Jinling . In jotting 431, he compares the traces of old canals in Jianghuai with those described in a Tang geography book Lainanlu . Jotting 429 again focuses on a Tang stone monument discovered in Suzhou of the Bian canal.
. For a more systematic discussion of Shen Gua’s “gaze” from the center, see my previous study on two other categories of Mengxi (Fu Daiwie 1993-94, esp. pp. 24-33).
. Some ideas here come from a manuscript by Zhang Zhaowei (1990).
. in jotting 460 can be a decadent person, whereas as commented by Shen Gua in jotting 465, can be an idiosyncratic person, who regretted all his life having once bought a book, which supposedly broke his discipline of self-restraint.
. In jotting 470, Shen Gua writes about those people in Jiangzhou who were loyal holdouts of a former local lord and refused to submit to the Song imperial order for three years. Later, after their defenses cracked, they were massacred by a Song general despite an imperial pardon, which came too late. This is the fate of these people, Shen sighs. Although the leader of these people, Hu Ze , is also mentioned in jotting 157 on “Literati Affairs”, the emphasis there is quite different. An almost opposite story is jotting 424 in Zazhi, where two local doctors want very much to become petty officials (), but both suddenly die after the good news arrives.
. Generally speaking, “servants” (shiren ) of the literati were very active in the category Zazhi. See, for example, jottings 436, 446, 458, 470.
. See jotting 478, about an old prostitute who helped to defend the Song from the barbarians Xiawei by openly shouting at the enemies the “dirty private affairs” of their mother-king who led the invasion.
. Klaproth 1834; Wylie 1897; Edkins 1877; 123 ff; Hirth 1908; Moule 1924: 83 ff; Wang Zhenduo 1950, 1953; Needham 1962.
. Although Shen Gua was well known as a polymath who specialized in many esoteric learnings, he talked surprisingly little about “geomancy” in Mengxi. Only a very small number of jottings are related to geomancy: jottings 145, 380, and 571.
. The making of this map was based on a set of fixed directions and distances between any two geographical points in question, similar to a bird flying directly from one place to another with a fixed direction and distance. This is different from the old method of map-making where the distance between two points is estimated by the length of the actual road from one place to another.
. One significant difference between Wylie’s and Needham’s translations is that the term fangjia was translated by Wylie as “scientific people”, but by Needham as “magicians”.
. I translate the adverb chang as “usually” or “often”, not as “always”, as in almost all the old translations (including the earlier French ones). But this does not necessarily mean high frequency or high probability of occurrences; it usually depends on the context. For example, we have no way of telling from the sentence alone how often or how many times he came in the last year. Thus, may mean something much less than “often”. I have checked quite a number of uses of as an adverb in Mengxi, and I found that almost all of them mean “usually”, “often” or even less, which is quite different from “always” – especially in the issues discussed in this paper. It is quite understandable why historians of science in the past liked to translate it as “always”. See further explanations in the following passages.
. is an ambiguous phrase. There are two ways to parse this phrase: . The first way corresponds to the first, italic translation, the second to the alternative translation in brackets. It is more natural to use the first one, where is used in contrast to as just discussed, and the meaning of this phrase is consistent with other passages in this jotting. Translated the second way, presumably means “due south”, but Shen Gua rarely used in this way. For example, in jotting 127, he did not use, and in jotting 131, he used instead.
. I use this transitional “doubt” in parentheses to somewhat smooth the flow of Shen Gua’s sentences. It may reflect a hesitation, a pause, a change of tone on his part. It is also to emphasize the unity of this jotting and to avoid mutilating it into several unrelated fragments, like many translations did in the past.
. The phrase is an important marker in many of the jottings in Mengxi, which usually points to the key ideas Shen Gua wanted to express in the jotting in question. This marker also often indicates where the source or origin of that method is, and it is usually a book. Unfortunately, he did not indicate the source of “the method” in jotting 437.
. It is important to appreciate the natural flow of writing to this point: . I wish to stress the term , which signals a turning point on the way to resolving to Shen Gua’s satisfaction at least, all the problems (especially the “deviating slightly to the east”) raised before this point in this jotting. Again, I translate as “most often”, not “always”. Historians in the past saw this jotting from the perspective of modem science, thus they translated as “always” to observe the imperatives of magnetic declination. But Shen Gua had no such conceptions. Most likely he considered these deviations in terms of “frequency” – hence the terms “usually”, “often” and “not always”, given the crude apparatus he had at hand, the curiosity that was only marginal to his experience, and the geographical (and hence magnetic) variations by which his south-pointing needles were effected.
. Many make the taxonomy or conceptual grid of modem Western science the basis from which to approach ancient Chinese texts. We might call this practice an “imposition of taxonomy”, and I will focus on it in the third section of this paper.
. For the distinctions among “regularity”, “anomaly” and “accident”, it is easy to draw up a series of degrees or stages of epistemological status (from high to low) concerning certain units of “knowledge” or “phenomena”:
(i) knowledge and discovery (and its “normal science structure”, in the sense of Thomas Kuhn);
(ii) recurrent phenomena, a regularity, a prototype law, a building block for normal knowledge;
(iii) anomaly (acknowledged strange phenomena happen from time to time, which resist assimilation to normal knowledge and potentially challenge or conflict with the official knowledge);
(iv) aberration (strange phenomena which can be set aside or even forgotten);
(v) practical accidents (familiar phenomena which can easily be dismissed or explained as trivial).
. The italics are mine. See Mitchell 1937. As to Needham’s interesting arguments against Mitchell’s unconventional idea, see Needham’s footnotes (1962: 250d, 252c, 309c). In footnote p. 252c, Needham partially concedes Mitchell’s point by saying that what was in Shen Gua’s mind “is not certain”. But his strategy of using Kou Zongshi’s attempt to “explain the magnetic declination” (thus Kou presumably would recognize the phenomena to be explained as a “regularity”) in order to refute Mitchell’s point is, to me, not convincing. In the next section, I will make a very clear distinction between Shen’s and Kou’s situations; thus we cannot use Kou’s observation in the Southern Song to interpret Shen’s in the Northern Song. And the key issue here is the nature of Shen Gua’s world. In footnote p. 250d, Needham criticizes “the spirit in which some Europeans approach Chinese texts” (such as Mitchell’s), but fortunately I am not an European but a (Han) Taiwanese.
. Later, in section III, I will introduce a Southern Song reading (hence with no conception of “magnetic declination”) of Mengxi’s jotting 437 to confirm my interpretation here.
. This is an adapted translation from Needham’s (Needham 1962: 250), with an important difference, that (in ) again is translated as “often”.
. When it comes to Kou Zongshi’s Bencao yanyi of the Southern Song, perhaps the phenomenon of “deviations” had become more regular and less anomalous. Kou did mention “deviations” in his medical discussions of the lodestone and also recorded a strange passage in which a Taoist medical concept of “five phases” (wuxing) was evoked to explain them. More on this in section III of this paper.
. I agree with Needham (1962) that there is a westward-deviation of south-pointing needles in 9th- and 10th-century China, but for different reasons. Needham’s evidence for this (as abstracted in table 2) is too sketchy and unreliable. What I did is a serious reading of the Qingnangxu and Qingnang’aozhi , by the famous Tang geomancers Yang Yunsong and Zeng Qiuji , the Fuzhen fangqi diagram in Needham (Needham 1962: 304), and the Hushou jing (found in Dili xianpo ji ). I found these to be consistent with some crucial passages in Chu Yong’s Quyi shuo (interpreted differently from Needham). Together, they all point to a very probable “westward-deviation” in 9th- and 10th-century China. In May 1995, I gave a talk on this subject at the Collège de France in Paris, entitled “The Needle Deviation (Magnetic Declination): Looking for its Possible Influences in Some Early Medieval Texts of Geomancy”. I would like to thank Dr. Martzloff, who made this talk possible.
. See edition, , juan 655 (), : 6781-82, 6844.
. When later modem Chinese historians of science learned enough from these Western hunters, they became the modem “Chinese hunters”, equipped with the Western taxonomy of modem science to hunt down and at the same time defend their “national treasures”.
. This is a typical metaphor used by F. Hirth in the construction of his table (or “abstract of dates”) conceming the various issues of “south-pointing needles” in China (Hirth 1908: 135). The object of this “hunt down” for Hirth is the mysterious passage in a Chinese text concerning an observation of magnetic declination in the 8th century by the monk Yixing, a mysterious event first reported by the meticulous A.Wylie (1897: 157), who surprisingly did not provide any reference for the source of that report.
. In a process of contextual translation, this is precisely what I am trying to do: to recover or regain the meaning and context of some Tang geomantic texts which contain vague discussions of “needles”. Some preliminary ideas were presented in my talk, “The Needle Deviation” (1995b).
. I exclude the observation (“c. +720”) allegedly made by the famous monk Yi-xing, since there is no evidence for it. Although Needham (1962) did not uncover any evidence for Yang Yunsong’s discussion of westward-deviation (“c. +880”), I have found some. Hence, I include Yang’s observation.
. We might ask, why “compass observations” by Western Jesuits in China should be considered “Chinese”?
. See édition, , juan 655 () : 6781-82, 6844. Needham (Needham 1962: 302) translates as evidence a passage there (p. 6782), which is problematic. There is a puzzling passage on the same page: (p. 6782). A quite different passage is also in (p. 6844), “”, this is clearly “eastern-deviation”. See edition, , juan 662.
. See edition, , juan 655 : 6782. The commentator is talking about the Chinese calendar and run ; the historical complexity involved here with regard to the history of Chinese geomancy/astronomy has yet to be studied.
. Based on a slightly different edition, Needham’s translation (1962: 251) contains the same problems (actually even clearer in this entry) as those in his translation of jotting 437 of Mengxi. I will not repeat them here.
. In , the entry includes the phrase: . The position in the 24-directions compass indicates deviation toward the east for one full position (a 15-degree westward declination), which is probably greater than at Shen Gua’s time (thirty to forty years earlier with a deviation “slightly to the east” – hence 5-10-degree westward declination, according to Needham’s estimation) and thus more noticeable and more familiar. Another very interesting change is that, although Kou quotes some passages from jotting 437 of Mengxi, he alters the key phrase to by dropping the adverb (“slightly”). This probably also means an increase of the magnitude of the deviation in Kou’s time. By the way, we should not forget that the adverb “often” is used again in this text.
. In , there are many quotations or paraphrases from Mengxi. In Mengxi’s category “Deliberations on Materia Medica”, for example, there are at least eight jottings which Kou had closely consulted: 490, 491, 493, 496, 498, 500, 502, 506. From these cases, we know Kou is very serious about quoting phrases. He was quite independent in judging the materials he consulted and was very organized in quoting or paraphrasing what he wanted. This shows that we should also take seriously the way Kou quotes Mengxi’s jotting 437.
. Shen Gua was well versed in the arts of the “five phases”, as amply demonstrated in his Mengxi, but he did not use it in jotting 437.
. Presumably, the object to be explained by a cosmographical theory in terms of the “incline” on a flat earth should be a much more “regular” phenomenon. But this is one hundred years after Shen Gua.
. Take the case of Chu Yong’s in the entry “c. +1230”, where Needham refers to the passage of “Distinguishing Needles” (bianzhen ) (Needham 307-308). Since I have a quite different interpretation of this passage, I do not have the space here to elaborate on it. By the way, a version of the (“Canon of the Fox Head”) mentioned in this passage was found in . But the date of its completion is not clear. I suspect it actually referred to the rare “westward-deviation” in the tenth chapter Qiyuan pian .