Imagery: A Historical Perspective

  • Paul Bakan


When I was a boy we used to play a word game called “Confucius Says,” in which we quoted clever things attributed to Confucius. For example, Confucius says, “When pants fall down, it’s hard to pull them up with dignity.” Little did I know then that many years later I would again be quoting Confucius, on the topic of imagery. Confucius said, “Writing cannot express words exhaustively, words cannot express ideas exhaustively.” Upon which a student asks, “Does this mean that one cannot see the ideas of the saints and sages?” To which Confucius replied, “The saints and sages established images in order to express their ideas exhaustively.” So, as early as 500 B.C. understanding is traced back to images as their source (Wilhelm, 1977).


Historical Perspective Word Game Sacred Scripture Intelligible Universal Prophetic Vision 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Bakan
    • 1
  1. 1.Simon Fraser UniversityCanada

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