Despite various threats received as a result of previous posts, the countdown continues. Sorry MZD, but I will not publish an apology just so your wife will let you move back into your cave.
Number Six on my list of Top Ten Chinese Thinkers will probably surprise some of my readers. Here he is, another product of the Warring States era:
Sunzi, aka Sun Tzu
That I include the great Sunzi on my list should not surprise anyone. Author of Sunzi Bingfa, which somehow got the hippie translation of Sunzi’s Art of War, Sunzi was one of the first to really get philosophical on the proper method of killing large numbers of peasants. As a ruthless warlord, I must admit that I could not have killed so many peasants without his sagacious wisdom. Take this pearl of genius:
“For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards.”
Hence my insistence that my soldiers be aware of the drunken looting that follows victory. But I mainly appreciate Sunzi for how he argues for not fighting unless the peasant army you want to destroy is totally helpless. This has allowed myself (and all of my peers) to avoid war unless it is to our obvious and immediate benefit. BTW I promise I will get around to fighting those Japanese invaders when the time is right.
Some of my readers, however, must be surprised that Sunzi is not higher on this list. I know–to rank this great peasant murderer only slightly ahead of a man who lives in a cave with a hack actress–it is somewhat of an insult. But I must find great fault with Sunzi for one tragic mistake. He never made it clear that his methods were only to be used in killing peasants. The result of this tragic mistake has been a flood of texts using his bingfa for the most bizarre ends. By means of example, I once found my personal servant reading The Art of Germ War: Using Sunzi’s Philosophy to Clean Toilets. What is next? Using peasant killing philosophy to succeed in business? Don’t make me laugh.