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    Appreciations of Sun Tzu

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    Chapter 3
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    Appreciations of Sun Tzu

    Sun Tzu has exercised a potent fascination over the minds of
    some of China's greatest men. Among the famous generals who are
    known to have studied his pages with enthusiasm may be mentioned
    Han Hsin (d. 196 B.C.), [49] Feng I (d. 34 A.D.), [50] Lu Meng
    (d. 219), [51] and Yo Fei (1103-1141). [52] The opinion of Ts'ao
    Kung, who disputes with Han Hsin the highest place in Chinese
    military annals, has already been recorded. [53] Still more
    remarkable, in one way, is the testimony of purely literary men,
    such as Su Hsun (the father of Su Tung-p'o), who wrote several
    essays on military topics, all of which owe their chief
    inspiration to Sun Tzu. The following short passage by him is
    preserved in the YU HAI: [54] --

    Sun Wu's saying, that in war one cannot make certain of
    conquering, [55] is very different indeed from what other
    books tell us. [56] Wu Ch'i was a man of the same stamp as
    Sun Wu: they both wrote books on war, and they are linked
    together in popular speech as "Sun and Wu." But Wu Ch'i's
    remarks on war are less weighty, his rules are rougher and
    more crudely stated, and there is not the same unity of plan
    as in Sun Tzu's work, where the style is terse, but the
    meaning fully brought out.

    The following is an extract from the "Impartial Judgments in
    the Garden of Literature" by Cheng Hou: --

    Sun Tzu's 13 chapters are not only the staple and base
    of all military men's training, but also compel the most
    careful attention of scholars and men of letters. His
    sayings are terse yet elegant, simple yet profound,
    perspicuous and eminently practical. Such works as the LUN
    YU, the I CHING and the great Commentary, [57] as well as the
    writings of Mencius, Hsun K'uang and Yang Chu, all fall below
    the level of Sun Tzu.

    Chu Hsi, commenting on this, fully admits the first part of
    the criticism, although he dislikes the audacious comparison with
    the venerated classical works. Language of this sort, he says,
    "encourages a ruler's bent towards unrelenting warfare and
    reckless militarism."
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