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Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu (孫子 also commonly written in pinyin: Sūn Zǐ) was the author of The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy (for the most part not dealing directly with tactics). He is also one of the earliest realists in political science.

Sources on Sun Tzu's life

The only surviving source on the life of Sun Tzu is the biography written in the 2nd century BC by the historian Sima Qian, who describes him as a general who lived in the state of Wu in the 6th century BC. However, the biography is not consistent with other sources for the period, and both the form and content indicate that it was most likely written between 400 BC and 320 BC.

Sun Tsu's own work, The Art of War appears to provide a number of direct clues to his life, for example, war chariots described by Sun Tzu were used for a relatively brief period ending in the 4th century BC and so dates at least part of the work to that time.

Some scholars have concluded that Sun Tzu's work was actually authored by unknown Chinese philosophers and that Sun Tzu did not actually exist as a historical figure. This can be seen further in the way that the historicity of Sun Tsu is discussed extensively in the introduction to Giles' 1910 translation available as a Project Gutenberg online text. Giles gives a feeling of the doubt and confusion which has surrounded this subject.

In 1972 a set of bamboo engraved texts were discovered in a grave near Linyi in Shandong[1] these have helped in confirming the text which was already known and have also added new sections [2] . This text which has been dated some time between 134-118 B.C. [3]
and so rules out older theories that parts of the text had been written much later.

Sun Pin , a descendent of Sun Tsu also wrote a text known as the Art of War although possibly a more accurate title might be the Art of Warfare since this was more directly concerned with the practical matters of warfare. [4]
At least one translator hs gone with the title The Lost Art of War, owing to the extensive period of time during which this book was, quite literally, lost.

See also

External link

  • The Art of War translated by Lionel Giles (1910), Project Gutenberg edition with considerable (but dated) text on Sun Tsu
  • The Art of War, By Sun Tzu

Last updated: 02-07-2005 02:24:30
Last updated: 02-22-2005 01:16:43