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Excavated Texts and a New Portrait of the Early Confucians

Zhongjiang Wang

The main theme of this book is how newly excavated texts have provided new energy and perspectives to allow us to renew our understanding of ancient Chinese thought, especially that of Confucianism. Through an analysis of texts from the Guodian, Shanghai Museum, and other collections of excavated manuscripts, this book undertakes a wide-ranging analysis of Confucian thought in itself and also its influence on other trends of thought in ancient China. It focuses on such topics as morality, virtue, and self-cultivation, political philosophy, circumstance, and the relationship between human beings, others, and the natural world. It rethinks core Confucian concepts such as ren or "benevolence" and shendu or "maintaining one’s moral nature" as well as great Confucian notions on circumstance and political philosophy. This book also illustrates the influence that Confucian philosophy had during the Warring States period showing that elements of its moral philosophy informed the consciousness and behavior of state officials in such places as the state of Qin. Excavated texts are an inescapable part of Chinese philosophy, as such this book is invaluable to anyone wishing to understand ancient Chinese philosophy, Confucianism, and anyone interested in the interplay between material and intellectual culture.

The “Ren” of the “Unity of Mind and Body” and Confucian Virtue Ethics— the Structure of Confucian Benevolence and the Guodian Manuscript’s Character of “Ren” – The Model of Human Nature and View on the Way of Humanity in the Xing zi Ming Chu— an Explanation of the Concepts of “Xing,” “Qing,” “Xin,” and “Dao” – The Concept of “De” in the Bamboo and Silk Wuxing – The Early Confucian “Theory of Shendu,” “Moral Study for Oneself,” and “Public Concern” – The Confucians’ Theory of Moral Autonomy, View on Circumstance, and Qiongda yi Shi – The Origin of the Confucian Hermeneutics of the Classics – A New Understanding of the Shanghai Museum’s Shizhuan and the Confucian Education of the Shi – Kongzi’s “Delighting in the Yijing,” Explaining the Yijing, and the Search for “Virtue and Meaning”— Centering on the Phrase “the Master Said” in the Silk “Commentaries to the Yijing” – Tang Yu zhi Dao and the Multifaceted Transference of Kingly Power – The Shuihudi Qin Bamboo Manuscript Weili zhi Dao and the Confucian Style Political Ethics in the State of Qin.