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Thread: The Art of War by Sun Tzu

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    Registered User Red Terror's Avatar
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    The Art of War by Sun Tzu

    I've read Sun Tzu's masterpiece several times trying to absorb its lessons. Are any of you familiar with it? It is very easy to read.

    Last edited by Red Terror; 06-15-2017 at 05:49 PM.
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    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    Good video. I only had time for about an hour of it. Knowing one's enemy and oneself, fighting weakness not strength, deception, death ground and moral integrity were most memorable.

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    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    Thinking more about this today, moral integrity and positioning soldiers on death ground are conflicting. Sun Tzu's execution of those palace females shown at the beginning of the video was uncalled for. I think one needs both the chess and the go attitudes. Sun Tzu fought a guerrilla war because he represented the weaker side and had to fight in that manner.

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    Registered User Red Terror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Thinking more about this today, moral integrity and positioning soldiers on death ground are conflicting. Sun Tzu's execution of those palace females shown at the beginning of the video was uncalled for. I think one needs both the chess and the go attitudes. Sun Tzu fought a guerrilla war because he represented the weaker side and had to fight in that manner.
    Yeah, his killing of those two concubines was gratuitous cruelty in the extreme.
    There has never been a single, great revolution in history without civil war. --- Vladimir Lenin

    There are decades when nothing happens and then there are weeks when decades happen. --- Vladimir Lenin

  5. #5
    I just want to read. chrisvia's Avatar
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    Just finished this off last night. Here's what I thought of it (from my Goodreads "review"):

    Contrary to western bias, Socrates was not the progenitor of the maxim "know thyself"; in fact, this was a truncation of Sun Tzu's maxim which boils down to "know thyself and know thy enemy": "...if you know yourself and know your enemy, you will gain victory a hundred times out of a hundred"; "...if you know the enemy and know yourself, you are sure of victory" (21, 69). This is not to discredit Socrates (or rather Plato's Socrates), however--to be sure, Sun Tzu's and Socrates's audiences and purposes were quite different. What we get with The Art of War is an almost entirely pragmatic manual for generals to successfully conduct war.

    So direct and pragmatic is Sun Tzu, that I wish books like How to Win Friends and Influence People would just get to the viscera of their cloistered message: "Successful war follows the path of Deception" (11). And yet, indeed, this ancient Chinese manual has been appropriated in modern day military strategy and the business world. If one reads it in the mindset of, say, an office manager, the text is rich with sound advice and consistently urges the necessity of looking to oneself as the source of the overall human atmosphere: "Widespread unrest indicates weakness in the command" (59). It urges ones to be thoroughly prepared, never extemporaneous; and it underscores the weight of responsibility--something I wish more world leaders would heed: "Only someone who understands the perils of waging war can also understand the best way of conducting it" (13).

    In addition to the pervasive pragmatism, however, there is an element of the text that keeps it on the philosophy lists. One must undertake to understand what Sun Tzu means by the Substantial and the Insubstantial. James Trapp--translator of my stunning hardcover edition from Chartwell Books (bound in the same manner of the book-binding methods employed during the Ming dynasty)--sums up the idea of opposites nicely in a footnote to the "Momentum" chapter: "...apparent opposites are, in fact, part of the same continuum, and...in harnessing one aspect you are also automatically involving the other" (37). In this vein, the text can be read as a manual for chess strategy: "Lay plans to discover the enemy's intentions"; "...the greatest skill is in keeping the enemy in the dark" (37).

    In the end, after laying all the groundwork for his framework of successful conduct in warfare, Sun Tzu issues the hardest part of any mindset adoption program: "Do not ask them [i.e. the followers/employees/etc.] simply to trust your word, show them with your actions" (sic: comma-splice error) (81). It's easy to read a book full of wisdom concentrated within one pithy statement after another. But it is quite another to endeavor to put its message into action.
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    - Baudelaire

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    This is a must-read book for business owners, coaches, strategists, or anybody who wants to become successful and outlast their competitors.Keep your plans as dark as night, use a direct attack to engage but use an indirect attack to win - these are just two of the best things that you can learn if you read the book.
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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    It's actually a very complicated book from a textual perspective, with one of the most difficult bibliographies in the Chinese canon. My general feelings about it are it was meant as a war manual, and valued over the ages because it was said to have war wisdom. it's philosophical implications are either unintended, or misinformed for the most part.

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