The Art of War - HISTORY
More recently, the field has been dominated by General Samuel B. Griffith and Thomas Cleary. For a good many years, there has been a raging battle between the miltarists and those who believe there is more to Bing-fa than war. It was. Griffith , Lau has little good to say about Griffith.
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Says Handel , ,. None of the currently available translations of Sun Tzu is entirely accurate. Each translator has employed some modern Western phrases or words that do not exist in the original and has inevitably, even if unintentionally, contributed some of his own ideas.
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In the latter years of the twentieth century, Bing-fa became the darling of martial artists, militarists, and writers enamored with the wars and warriors of ancient Asia. James Clavell enthusiastically proposed that military officers should be required to write examinations on Bing-fa, which, if they fail, would lead to dismissal or demotion.
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I truly believe that if our military and political leaders had studied [Sun Tzu], Vietnam could not have happened, we would not have lost the war in Korea; the Bay of Pigs could not have occurred; the hostage fiasco in Iran could not have come to pass; the British Empire would not have been dismembered; and in all probability, World Wars I and II would have been avoided—certainly they would have not been waged as they were waged, and the millions of youths obliterated unnecessarily and stupidly by monsters calling themselves generals would have lived out their lives. Clavell , 1—2. It is in fact often discredited in the military canon.
Considerable pain has been taken at times to maintain the militaristic charade. The commentary achieves this by the insertion of new material or by an extravagant and convoluted interpretation of what Bing-fa must have meant. To date, no commentator has seen that Bing-fa is focused on conflict free organizational and engagement management.
In Art of War there is nothing on how to conduct a siege, how to treat sickness and wounds, and how to set up and maintain supply lines. We must look elsewhere for instructions on the care of horses and other beasts of burden. He adds to this misdemeanor with strange extrapolations that have no foundation in the text:. The organization described by Sun Tzu permitted considerable flexibility in march formations, while articulation made possible rapid deployment into those suitable for battle.
The five man squad or section could obviously march either in rank or file. The commentary, frustrated at its inability to see what Bing-fa is really all about, blames it and never themselves. But Art of War did not fare so well. On War lends itself to facile, hence erroneous, comparisons because it is seldom read in its entirety.
Unlike On War, The Art of War does not offer the reader a systematic explanation or step-by-step reconstruction of the logical process through which concepts are developed. Thus, while Clausewitz leads the reader through a tortuous - though educationally rewarding—reasoning process, Sun Tzu, for the most part presents the reader with his conclusions.
Much of the commentator argument has focused on specific passages. Griffith translates III. Tu Mu was isolated for his pacific views about Bing-fa.
Cheng Hou dared suggest that Bing-fa might have been a work of philosophy that simply used military tactics for illustration. Giles Ou-yang Hsiu, a thousand years after Bing-fa was created, praised Mei Sheng-yu and offered his reaction to those who imagined that Bing-fa was not a manual for the conduct of war:. Later scholars have misread Sun Tzu, distorting his words and trying to make them square with their own one-sided views. Thus, though commentators have not been lacking, only a few have proved equal to the task.
My friend Sheng-yu has not fallen into this mistake. In his own commentary, Mei Sheng-yu has brushed aside all the obstinate prejudices of these critics, and has tried to bring out the true meaning of Sun Tzu himself. In this way, the clouds of confusion have been dispersed and the sayings made clear.
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I am convinced that the present work deserves to be handed down side by side with the three great commentaries; and for a great deal that they find in the sayings, coming generations will have constant reason to thank my friend Sheng-yu. Contemporary scholars who work on classical Chinese military thought [consider Sun Tzu to be] a philosophical text. In a highly conceptual and even philosophical way, Sun-tzu addresses the issues of warfare, the operations of the military, its strategy, tactics, and so on. This is all very good.
But he confesses that it has not been easy. Bing-fa is the stuff of strategic planning and management, and both military and civilian organizations are in woeful need of help along these lines.
The military commentary has no room for alternate methods of inter-organization management and dispute resolution. Some even dismiss the value of intelligence gathering in situations leading to, or in the midst of, conflict.
In other words, it would be a translation which was not inscrutable in part or in whole but completely understandable. It would not be a translation which made the reader feel as though he or she did not have the ability to grasp Sun Tzu's ideas. It would not be a translation which made the reader wonder if he or she was applying it correctly. Rather, it would be a translation one could understand and use readily. Ten years went into the research and translation of this book. Each character was meticulously investigated. Warfare of Sun Tzu's era and earlier eras were researched based upon what Sun Tzu mentions of the skill of warriors of ancient times in order to understand what Sun Tzu had observed of warfare and then codified into his laws, rules and methods of war.
This is not another translation based upon someone else's translation. This translation has no other source than the wisdom of Sun Tzu. If you're an author or publisher, you've come to the right place.