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5 Tool Metaphors in the Huainanzi and Other Early Texts

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the role of tools as a topos in the Huainanzi. The first and longest looks at a number of tool metaphors in the text shows that they exhibit such a wide range of meanings and applications that the text itself can fairly be summarized by means of the tool metaphors. The second part looks comparatively at tool metaphors in other Warring States and early Han texts, and shows that those texts vary greatly in the degree to which they employ such metaphors. The tool metaphors also shed some new light on the sources and formation of Liu An's text, revealing affinities with certain works that also employ them. The relationship between the Guanzi and the Huainanzi has long been recognized. It is part of the conventional wisdom about early China that the Mohist movement was largely defunct by the early Han period.

Keywords: early China; early Han texts; Guanzi; Huainanzi; Liu An's text; Mohist; tool metaphors



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