Portrait: Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Wednesday, 26 April 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Portrait

Statue of Sun Tzu © 663highland/cc-by-2.5

Statue of Sun Tzu © 663highland/cc-by-2.5

Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, a widely influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and Eastern philosophy. Aside from his legacy as the author of The Art of War, Sun Tzu is revered in Chinese and the Culture of Asia as a legendary historical figure. His birth name was Sun Wu, and he was known outside of his family by his courtesy name Changqing. The name Sun Tzu by which he is best known in the West is an honorific which means “Master Sun.” Sun Tzu’s historicity is uncertain. Sima Qian and other traditional historians placed him as a minister to King Helü of Wu and dated his lifetime to 544–496 BC.

Modern scholars accepting his historicity nonetheless place the existing text of The Art of War in the later Warring States period based upon its style of composition and its descriptions of warfare. Traditional accounts state that the general’s descendant Sun Bin also wrote a treatise on military tactics, also titled The Art of War. Since both Sun Wu and Sun Bin were referred to as Sun Tzu in classical Chinese texts, some historians believed them identical prior to the rediscovery of Sun Bin’s treatise in 1972. Sun Tzu’s work has been praised and employed throughout East Asia since its composition. During the twentieth century, The Art of War grew in popularity and saw practical use in Western society as well. It continues to influence many competitive endeavors in Asia, Europe, and America including culture, politics, business, and sports, as well as modern warfare.

The Art of War is traditionally ascribed to Sun Tzu. It presents a philosophy of war for managing conflicts and winning battles. It is accepted as a masterpiece on strategy and has been frequently cited and referred to by generals and theorists since it was first published, translated, and distributed internationally. There are numerous theories concerning when the text was completed and concerning the identity of the author or authors, but archeological recoveries show The Art of War had taken roughly its current form by at least the early Han. Because it is impossible to prove definitively when The Art of War was completed before this date, the differing theories concerning the work’s author or authors and date of completion are unlikely to be completely resolved. Some modern scholars believe that it contains not only the thoughts of its original author but also commentary and clarifications from later military theorists, such as Li Quan and Du Mu. Of the military texts written before the unification of China and Qin Shi Huang‘s subsequent book burning in the second century BC, six major works have survived. During the much later Song dynasty, these six works were combined with a Tang text into a collection called the Seven Military Classics. As a central part of that compilation, The Art of War formed the foundations of orthodox military theory in early modern China. Illustrating this point, the book was required reading to pass the tests for imperial appointment to military positions.

Sun Tzu’s Art of War uses language that may be unusual in a Western text on warfare and strategy. For example, the eleventh chapter states that a leader must be “serene and inscrutable” and capable of comprehending “unfathomable plans”. The text contains many similar remarks that have long confused Western readers lacking an awareness of the East Asian context. The meanings of such statements are clearer when interpreted in the context of Taoist thought and practice. Sun Tzu viewed the ideal general as an enlightened Taoist master, which has led to The Art of War being considered a prime example of Taoist strategy. The book has also become popular among political leaders and those in business management. Despite its title, The Art of War addresses strategy in a broad fashion, touching upon public administration and planning. The text outlines theories of battle, but also advocates diplomacy and the cultivation of relationships with other nations as essential to the health of a state. On April 10, 1972, the Yinqueshan Han Tombs were accidentally unearthed by construction workers in Shandong. Scholars uncovered a collection of ancient texts written on unusually well-preserved bamboo slips. Among them were The Art of War and Sun Bin‘s Military Methods. Although Han dynasty bibliographies noted the latter publication as extant and written by a descendant of Sun, it had previously been lost. The rediscovery of Sun Bin’s work is regarded as extremely important by scholars, both because of Sun Bin’s relationship to Sun Tzu and because of the work’s addition to the body of military thought in Chinese late antiquity. The discovery as a whole significantly expanded the body of surviving Warring States military theory. Sun Bin’s treatise is the only known military text surviving from the Warring States period discovered in the twentieth century and bears the closest similarity to The Art of War of all surviving texts.

Read more on Wikipedia Sun Tsu. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

sun_tzu-the_art_of_war





Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

The Tate Gallery

The Tate Gallery

[responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Tate is an institution that houses the United Kingdom's national collection of British Art, and International Modern and Contemporary Art. It is a network of four art museums and a complementary website. One of the Tate's most publicised art events is the awarding of the annual Turner Prize, which takes place at Tate Britain. [caption id="attachment_24908" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Tate Britain © Adrian Pingstone[/caption]TATE BRITAINThe gallery is situated on Millbank, on the site of the forme...

[ read more ]

Nordkirchen Castle, Versailles of Westphalia

Nordkirchen Castle, Versailles of Westphalia

[caption id="attachment_153172" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Main building with Venus Island in front © Mbdortmund[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Schloss Nordkirchen in the Gemeinde Nordkirchen in Kreis Coesfeld, Westphalia, Germany, built in 1703 to 1734, is known as the "Versailles of Westphalia" as it is the largest of the partly moated Wasserschlösser in that region. It was originally one of the residences of the Prince-bishops of Munster. The present Baroque schloss is the successor of a true moated Wasserschloss b...

[ read more ]

The Malt Whisky Trail

The Malt Whisky Trail

[caption id="attachment_152524" align="aligncenter" width="364"] © schottlandportal.de[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Whisky distilleries were founded in an environment rich in the highest quality ingredients: pure, clear spring water and abundant supplies of fragrant golden barley. On the whisky trail of Speyside, you'll find more than half of Scotland's malt whisky distilleries, each with its own warm welcome and an invitation to see, smell, taste and absorb the magic of whisky. Each whisky distillery on the distillery tou...

[ read more ]

Portrait: Vincent van Gogh, founder of modern art

Portrait: Vincent van Gogh, founder of modern art

[caption id="attachment_165597" align="aligncenter" width="535"] Vincent van Gogh signature[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. In just over a decade he created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life in France, where he died. They include landscapes, still lifes, portraits and self-portraits, and are characterised by bold colours...

[ read more ]

Jewish life in the historic center of Berlin, around the Oranienburger Straße, Rosenthaler Straße and the Scheunenviertel

Jewish life in the historic center of Berlin, around the Oranienburger Straße, Rosenthaler Straße and the Scheunenviertel

[caption id="attachment_196740" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Oranienburger Straße and New Synagogue © Rohieb/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Oranienburger Straße is a street in central Berlin. It is located in the borough of Mitte, north of the River Spree, and runs south-east from Friedrichstraße to Hackescher Markt. There are also two lesser known streets named "Oranienburger Straße" in Berlin, in Reinickendorf and in Lichtenrade. The name is derived from the nearby town of Oranienburg. The street is po...

[ read more ]

The European Union: 2019 European Parliament election

The European Union: 2019 European Parliament election

[responsivevoice_button voice="Deutsch Female" buttontext="Diesen Beitrag vorlesen"](Latest update: 9 January 2020) From May 23 to 26, 2019, the European elections took place. By far the biggest surprise is that, despite Brexit, the United Kingdom took part in the elections because the country voted to leave the EU by a very small majority, but ultimately was not able to find the exit in time. The motto "Brexit means Brexit" is obviously not as easy to implement as the Brexiteers falsely propagated before the referendum, because the political camps define the exit very differently, making the ...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Ibiza - Sant Josep de sa Talaia

Theme Week Ibiza - Sant Josep de sa Talaia

[caption id="attachment_152229" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Cala d'Hort with Es Vedrà in the background © flickr.com - Philip Larson/cc-by-sa-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Sant Josep de sa Talaia (Spanish: San José Obrero) is a village and municipality of the Balearic Islands in western Ibiza. The village is 10.7 miles (17.2 km) west of the capital Ibiza Town and is Located on the PM803 highway between Eivissa town and Sant Antoni de Portmany. The town is 6.5 miles (10.5 km) from the island's airport. The population of t...

[ read more ]

Heiligendamm is the oldest seaside resort in continental Europe

Heiligendamm is the oldest seaside resort in continental Europe

[caption id="attachment_160764" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Seebrücke pier towards Heiligendamm © Gryffindor[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Heiligendamm is the oldest seaside spa and resort in continental Europe and Germany. Heiligendamm is part of the town Bad Doberan in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Its founder and first guest in 1793 was the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg Friedrich Franz I; he made the resort fashionable. Between 1793 and 1870, Johann Christoph, Heinrich von Seydwitz, Carl Theodor Severin, and Gus...

[ read more ]

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲
Dammam street market © flickr.com - edward musiak/cc-by-sa-2.0
Theme Week Saudi Arabia – Dammam

Dammam is the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The judicial and administrative bodies of the province, plus...

Medina - Al-Masjid al-Nabawi - The Mosque of the Prophet © flickr.com - Omar Chatriwala/cc-by-2.0
Theme Week Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is an Arab sovereign state in Western Asia constituting...

© National Park Service Digital Image Archives
Theme Week Miami – Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is a U.S. National Park located in southern Florida, south of Miami. The park preserves Biscayne Bay...

Schließen