The Animal and the Daemon in Early China

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Exploring the cultural perception of animals in early Chinese thought, this careful reading of Warring States and Han dynasty writings analyzes how views of animals were linked to human self perception and investigates the role of the animal world in the conception of ideals of sagehood and socio-political authority. Roel Sterckx shows how perceptions of the animal world influenced early Chinese views of man's place among the living species and in the world at large. He argues that the classic Chinese perception of the world did not insist on clear categorical or ontological boundaries between animals, humans, and other creatures such as ghosts and spirits. Instead the animal realm was positioned as part of an organic whole and the mutual relationships among the living species - both as natural and cultural creatures - were characterized as contingent, continuous, and interdependent.