Thinking with Cases: Specialist Knowledge in Chinese Cultural History
344pp. March 2007
Thinking with Cases: Specialist Knowledge in Chinese Cultural History
Editor: Furth, Charlotte; Zeitlin, Judith T.; Hsiung, Ping-chen;
Case studies fascinate because they link individual instances to general patterns and knowledge to action without denying the priority of individual situations over the generalizations derived from them. In this volume, an international group of senior scholars comes together to consider the use of cases to produce empirical knowledge in premodern China. They trace the process by which the project of thinking with cases acquired a systematic and public character in the ninth century CE and after. Premodern Chinese experts on medicine and law circulated printed case collections to demonstrate efficacy or claim validity for their judgments. They were joined by authors of religious and philosophical texts. The rhetorical strategies and forms of argument used by all of these writers were allied with historical narratives, exemplary biographies, and case examples composed as aids to imperial statecraft.

The innovative and productive explorations gathered here present a coherent set of interlocking arguments that will be of interest to comparativists as well as specialists on premodern East Asia. For China scholars, they examine the interaction of different fields of learning in the late imperial period, the relationship of evidential reasoning and literary forms, and the philosophical frameworks that linked knowledge to experience and action. For comparativists, the essays bring China into a global conversation about the methodologies of the human sciences.

Contributors: Chu Honglam, Charlotte Furth, Hsiung Ping-chen, Jiang Yonglin, Yasuhiko Karasawa, Robert Sharf, Pierre-Étienne Will, WuYanhong, Judith T. Zeitlin.

3 illus.

"[This] book is a China historian’s dream, and would be an ideal textbook for a graduate course on the rich array of themes and sources for the history of late-imperial China." —Journal of Chinese Studies (fall 2008)
Editor: Furth, Charlotte; Zeitlin, Judith T.; Hsiung, Ping-chen;
Charlotte Furth is professor of history at the University of Southern California. Judith T. Zeitlin is professor of Chinese literature and chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago. Ping-chen Hsiung is fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, and dean of the College of Liberal Arts, National Central University, in Taipei.
Read the table of contents and/or the introduction (PDF).