CHINA AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS: Recurring Themes in Four Thousand Years of Chinese Cultural History by Wolfgang Bauer

CHINA AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS: Recurring Themes in Four Thousand Years of Chinese Cultural History

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Treating Chinese thought from the earliest written evidence (divinatory inscriptions ca. 1500 B.C.) up to the intellectual ferment of the 19th and 20th centuries, Wolfgang Bauer seeks to show the changing manifestations of the Chinese ""search for happiness."" It is a brave attempt, for few have dared venture a scholarly, interpretive survey of Chinese thought with such scope. However, the fundamental premise of Bauer's work is controversial (and, some may say, flawed), for though there are many currents linking the earliest Chinese thinkers to the modern age, few Sinologists would agree that it was a quest for happiness which motivated the Chinese sages. Still, this is a work of substantial value and insight. Including apt quotations from a wide variety of Chinese sources, many previously untranslated, Bauer demonstrates his familiarity with works of disparate age and content, revealing succeeding ages of Chinese thought as if viewing vistas and then the details of a long and varied landscape scroll. The uninitiated will be amazed at the diversity of thought presented here. The many currents of Confucianism and the many streams of Taoism are ably described, though Chinese Buddhist thinkers are rather cursorily discussed, despite their importance. Though marred by some flaws, this pioneering work will be regarded as a serious and provocative contribution to Sinology.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Seabury