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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 23, Issue 1/4, 2007

Semiotics in the Chinese Umwelt

Charles E. Hammond
Pages 253-276

The Chinese Strategy of Transcendence

Sources of angst in Chinese society, ranging from concerns about the environment to political stability and the ongoing economic reforms have persisted into the late 1990s and early 2000s. While official policy often discouraged directly addressing these anxieties in public forums, several articles printed in various official newspapers, many of them subsequently reprinted by the People’s Daily, offer advice on dealing with stress or frustration. Self-transcendence is a characteristically Chinese method that many of these articles advocate. Self-transcendence, which one could define as expanding one’s boundaries of the self to take on broader life perspectives to help one make one’s life more meaningful, has religious, philosophical, and psychological dimensions. Chinese philosophy, the historical interactions between the people and their rulers, and even their language have all worked to make the strategy of transcendence a particularly appealing one to the Chinese.

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