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Thread: The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

  1. #1
    David de Alba
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    The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

    I don't think 'The Art of War' was meant to be a moral guide in the strict sense that we attribute to morality in Western civilization, in this particular era. In my opinion, Sun Tzu summarized all his personal experience on tactics and strategy (and perhaps other people's experience, too) in order to write a concise, logical and solid military manual. Military history is one of my biggest personal interests, and I've seen that it is possible to adapt Sun Tzu's ideas to most historical battlefields and eras. Not only does 'The Art of War' deals with manoeuvers and tactics in the battlefield, it addresses everything a commander should take into account prior to engaging battle: logistics, intelligence, terrain, morale and last, but not least, the psychological understanding of the opponent. As I mentioned above, 'The Art of War' cannot be seen as guidance for the ethics and morality of our acts, nonetheless, it is a valuable instrument when it comes down to overcome daily life difficulties, it helps focus problems in such a way they can be solved systematically. And when it comes to use such knowledge against individuals, personal foes, it's important to keep on mind that it's best to beat an enemy without actually fighting; overkill is not the best outcome most of the times.

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    Without discussing the merit or moral implication of war, Sun Tzu tactics and strategies yield him great success in wars. Much of it can be applied in modern daily lives such dealing with your co-workers or bosses. What intrigue me the most his analysis of the elements such earth, water, etc. It is certainly should be on everyone list of reading before their undergraduate studies.

  3. #3
    Ataraxia bazarov's Avatar
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    You would be suprised by number of those who wouldn't understand a single quote.
    At thunder and tempest, At the world's coldheartedness,
    During times of heavy loss And when you're sad
    The greatest art on earth Is to seem uncomplicatedly gay.

    To get things clear, they have to firstly be very unclear. But if you get them too quickly, you probably got them wrong.
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    Worthless Hack Zippy's Avatar
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    I'm surprised. I wasn't aware anyone was claiming that The Art of War had a moral aspect to it.

    I could see how someone could interpret a book like The Book of Five Rings as having moral and philosophical aspects, but The Art of War is clearly a concisely written military manual for practical use!

    Just about any written work can be modified to expound philosophical points, or adapted to become a 'life guide', but how can a manual on warfare be considered to have moral or ethical aspects?

    Very strange.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Anais Nin.

  5. #5
    Ataraxia bazarov's Avatar
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    You really want to say that there is no quote which you can't translate in your every day life??? In school, job, sport or something???
    At thunder and tempest, At the world's coldheartedness,
    During times of heavy loss And when you're sad
    The greatest art on earth Is to seem uncomplicatedly gay.

    To get things clear, they have to firstly be very unclear. But if you get them too quickly, you probably got them wrong.
    If you need me urgent, send me a PM

  6. #6
    Registered Usher vili's Avatar
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    All this makes me think of how certain classics are marketed these days. After all, most editions of The Art of War that I have seen are really sold as business manuals and books on ethics (something they do with The Book of Five Rings as well). I suppose they can sell more copies that way, and while I don't actually have anything against reading these books as business manuals, it would still be nice if they at least mentioned on the back cover what the books were originally written for. But, with this in mind, I am not really that surprised about the post that started this thread.

    However, now that I come to think of it, I don't think I have ever seen Clausewitz's On War marketed as something that deals with business leadership or as a manual in ethics. I wonder why?

  7. #7
    Worthless Hack Zippy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bazarov View Post
    You really want to say that there is no quote which you can't translate in your every day life??? In school, job, sport or something???
    You can translate anything into a 'life guide' - a sort of life strategy on how to deal with business, relationships, finances etc. But I don't think they touch on the moral aspects of life.

    There's something disturbing and dubious about using ancient military manuals as a template for living your life and dealing with relationships. It's as though those who adapt the books are saying that the aim of life is domination over others, just like the aim of warfare is domination over the enemy. I'm sure there's more to life than that!

    To quote the Black Eyed Peas: 'Where is the love?'
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Anais Nin.

  8. #8
    Ataraxia bazarov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zippy View Post
    You can translate anything into a 'life guide' - a sort of life strategy on how to deal with business, relationships, finances etc. But I don't think they touch on the moral aspects of life.

    There's something disturbing and dubious about using ancient military manuals as a template for living your life and dealing with relationships. It's as though those who adapt the books are saying that the aim of life is domination over others, just like the aim of warfare is domination over the enemy. I'm sure there's more to life than that!

    To quote the Black Eyed Peas: 'Where is the love?'
    If I would say :'Open your mind!', it would maybe sound strange, but that's it, don't know how to help.
    At thunder and tempest, At the world's coldheartedness,
    During times of heavy loss And when you're sad
    The greatest art on earth Is to seem uncomplicatedly gay.

    To get things clear, they have to firstly be very unclear. But if you get them too quickly, you probably got them wrong.
    If you need me urgent, send me a PM

  9. #9
    Worthless Hack Zippy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bazarov View Post
    If I would say :'Open your mind!', it would maybe sound strange, but that's it, don't know how to help.
    It doesn't sound strange, just patronising.

    Quite happy as I am, and in need of no help.

    Cheers,

    Zippy.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Anais Nin.

  10. #10
    Registered Usher vili's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zippy View Post
    There's something disturbing and dubious about using ancient military manuals as a template for living your life and dealing with relationships. It's as though those who adapt the books are saying that the aim of life is domination over others, just like the aim of warfare is domination over the enemy. I'm sure there's more to life than that!
    This may be somewhat off-topic, but your comment reminds me of work done in cognitive linguistics by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, who have argued for the theory of conceptual metaphor, whereby one conceptual domain is defined in terms of another. One of their standard examples is the assumed mapping between love and war.

    Lakoff and Johnson argue that as we use the terms of war (a rather concrete concept) to talk about love (a far more abstract concept) in a rather systematic manner ("He is known for his conquests", "He won her hand", "She is besieged by suitors", etc.), it suggests that we do not simply rely on linguistic metaphors there, but in fact the connection originates from our pre-linguistic cognitive processes. Hence it is a metaphor of the conceptual level.

    I won't go into further details as it is clearly not the topic of this thread, yet I must finish off by saying that Lakoff and Johnson's ideas are hotly debated, and much of the linguistic community either ignores them or refutes their claims for various different reasons.

  11. #11
    mind your back chasestalling's Avatar
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    i haven't read a word of sun tzu, but i know this: any endeavor devoid of tender regard for fellow man is bound for the scrap heap.

  12. #12
    lunatic zen philosopher Triskele's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasestalling View Post
    i haven't read a word of sun tzu, but i know this: any endeavor devoid of tender regard for fellow man is bound for the scrap heap.
    this i disagree with. sun szu is a military theorist, thus he talks abaout war stratagy, in war, the victory must come through the loss of human life, war is the anti-thesis of a "tender regard for fellow man".

  13. #13
    Just another nerd RobinHood3000's Avatar
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    But Sun Tzu states (albeit subtly - it appears in one sentence in Part III) that the best way to win a war is not to fight.

    All the same, I'm with Zippy - Sun Tzu wrote it as a manual, and its best use is as such, I believe. Aspects of The Art Of War are certainly applicable to everyday life, but others (like "always fight with a hillside to your right rear") aren't. For me, the book (though brief) read mostly like stereo instructions.
    Por una cabeza
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  14. #14
    Fingertips of Fury B-Mental's Avatar
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    I read the Art of War and have seen how inappropriately it has been used by the "Dreamers". What about numbers and dividing your forces... surely the generals of bloodshed would agree. It is about strategizing for sure....and things that are constant from time to time.
    "I am glad to learn my friend that you had not yet submitted yourself to any of the mouldy laws of Literature."
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  15. #15
    Banned Turk's Avatar
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    Art of War is a book about military strategies and tactics. Somehow some silly people think it's a book about management. Capitalist foolish.

    On the other hand Master Sun and his advices didn't protect China from many invades by Huns, Mongols or Uighurs in past.

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