A Treatise on Efficacy: Between Western and Chinese Thinking by François Jullien

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By François Jullien

Trans. through Janet Lloyd

In this hugely insightful research of Western and chinese language innovations of efficacy, François Jullien subtly delves into the metaphysical preconceptions of the 2 civilizations to account for diverging styles of motion in struggle, politics, and international relations. He exhibits how Western and chinese language concepts paintings in numerous domain names (the battlefield, for instance) and analyzes ensuing acts of warfare. The chinese language strategist manipulates his personal troops and the enemy to win a conflict with out waging struggle and to lead to victory without difficulty. Efficacity in China is hence conceived of by way of transformation (as against motion) and manipulation, making it in the direction of what's understood as efficacy within the West.

Jullien’s impressive interpretations of an array of recondite texts are key to figuring out our personal conceptions of motion, time, and truth during this foray into the area of chinese language idea. In its transparent and penetrating characterization of 2 contrasting perspectives of fact from a heretofore unexplored viewpoint, A Treatise on Efficacy can be of significant value within the highbrow debate among East and West.

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In The Art of War, Machiavelli makes the same observation: "Oth­ er generals impose upon their soldiers the necessity to fight by leav­ ing them no hope of salvation save through victory. This is the most powerful and sure way to render soldiers determined in combat" (IV) . The reverse is equally true: "One must never force the enemy into desperation; that is a rule that Caesar observed in a battle against the Germans. Noticing that their need for victory was giving them new strength, he opened up a way of escape for them, preferring to go to the trouble of pursuing them than to conquer them, with danger, on the field of battle" (VI).

Understood in this fashion, cir­ cumstances are no longer something unpredictable that will turn out in a particular way, always threatening to ruin any plan imposed upon them. Instead, thanks pre­ cisely to their variability, circumstances can progressively be turned to advantage by the propensity emanating from the situation. In this way, one escapes from a logic of model-making (where a model-plan is brought to bear) and also from the task of producing an embodiment (making a project or idea become a concrete temporal The system of evaluation 21 22 Treatise on Efficacy Circumstances are no longer "that which surrounds" Far from destroying a plan.

What Clausewitz here tentatively recommends as a recipe for efficacy might be verifiable from an opposite and retrospective point of view when, instead of conduct­ ing warfare, it is a matter of learning from the wars of the past. In the military domain, a "critique" consists simply in "testing out the means employed " in order to evaluate them. " However, as soon as we embark on this critical examina­ tion, everything becomes confused. ontrol so well and which seemed to us to be self-evident, o';ce again con­ founds the theory (see II, 5, the particularly convoluted chapter devoted to the "critique").

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