Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Zhu Xi

"[The Martian Emperors'] official ideology - Sh'u Maz, roughly translatable as 'Sustained Harmony' - bears some resemblance to Zhu Xi's neo-Confucian synthesis, but it lacks the transcendentalist elements and is rigorously centered on 'this world,' expressing more modest aspirations."
-SM Stirling, In The Courts Of The Crimson Kings (New York, 2008), p. 210.

When reading this passage, I did not recognize the name "Zhu Xi," although I have probably encountered it before. When reading about Chinese philosophy, I am more interested in the Buddhist-Taoist synthesis that became Zen than in Confucianism but, as a former student of Hegelian philosophy, I am always interested in "synthesis." (A Religious Studies Professor at Lancaster University said that the only original thinker was Adam. Everyone else synthesizes.)

Like Poul Anderson, SM Stirling displays knowledge of Terrestrial religious philosophies. It is a major task to imagine equivalent traditions on another planet. Comparisons, as in this case with neo-Confucianism, are helpful but we must remember that the imaginary philosophy, in this case Sh'u Maz, is extraterrestrial.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

In other words, unlike the hominids of Earth, the Martians did not share their Earthly kin interest in ultimate questions. Which reminded me of how the paganism of the Tigeries of Starkad we see in ENSIGN FLANDRY and THE GAME OF EMPIRE was more "inchoate" than anything seen in ancient Terra. Because the Tigeries lacked the human fascination for ultimate question.

Yes, I too thought the philosophy underlying "S'hu Maz" reminded me of Confucianism. Minus, of course, Confucius' piety towards Heaven or God. Truth to say, I find Confucianism far more appealing to me than Buddhism. The closest equivalent in the West to Confucianism seems to be Stoicism (see the MEDITATIONS of Marcus Aurelius).