Excavated Texts and a New Portrait of the Early Confucians
Table Of Contents
- Series Page
- About the authors
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- 1 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”
- I. “Sympathy” and the “Ren” of the “Unity of Mind and Body”
- II. The “Ren” of “Serving One’s Parents” and the “Body”
- III. “Extending Oneself to Others” and the “Ren” of “Loving the People” and “Loving Others”
- IV. The “Ren” of the “Unity of the Ten Thousand Things” and “Expanding Oneself to Others and Things”
- V. Extra Discussion
- 2 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”
- I. Human Nature “Has Both Good and Bad” and Xing zi Ming Chu
- II. The Shape of “Qing” as “Emotions”
- III. The Different Levels of “Xin” and Their Relations
- IV. “Ritual,” “Music,” and “Dao”
- 3 The Concept of “De” in the Bamboo and Silk Wuxing
- I. “De”: “Virtuous Actions” and the “Cultivation” of the Inner Mind
- II. “Harmony,” “Happiness,” and “De”
- III. “Heaven,” “the Way of Heaven,” and “De”
- 4 The Early Confucian “Theory of Shendu,” “Moral Study for Oneself,” and “Public Concern”
- I. “Du” as Inner Moral Nature
- II. The Levels of “Shen” and “Shendu”
- III. The “Ideology of Being at Ease in Morality”: The “Theory of Shendu” and the “Moral Study for Oneself”
- IV. “Public Concern”: The “Theory of Shendu” and “Inner Sage and Outer King”
- 5 The Confucians’ Theory of Moral Autonomy, View on Circumstance, and Qiongda yi Shi
- I. The Similarities and Differences Between Records in Qiongda yi Shi and Transmitted Texts
- II. Qiongda yi Shi and the Confucians’ “View on Circumstance”
- III. Moral “Autonomy” and “Reflection”
- 6 The Origin of the Confucian Hermeneutics of the Classics
- Introduction: Civilizations, Traditions, and Classical Texts
- I. The Formation and Convergence of the “Six Types” of Texts
- II. The Legitimization and Canonization of the “Six Types” of Texts
- III. Understanding and Interpretation: A Summarization of the Entire Meaning of the Classics
- IV. Texts to Compare the “Classics” with—“Descriptions,” “Interpretations,” “Commentaries,” and “Explanations”
- 7 A New Understanding of the Shanghai Museum’s Shizhuan and the Confucian Education of the Shi
- I. The Author of the Shanghai Museums Shi Commentary
- II. “Chapter Names” and the Order of the “Feng”, “Ya”, and “Song”
- III. The Confucian Study of the Shi and the Shizhuan
- IV. “Virtue,” “Kings,” and “Mandates”
- V. “Human Nature,” “Emotions,” and “Intentions”
- 8 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”
- I. Why Kongzi Delighted in the Yijing Late in Life
- II. The Total Characteristic of the Yijing, “Virtue and Meaning,” and the “Way and Meaning”
- III. The “Virtue and Meaning” of the Hexagram Statements of the Yijing
- IV. The “Virtue and Meaning” of the Line Statements of the Yijing
- 9 Tang Yu zhi Dao and the Multifaceted Transference of Kingly Power
- I. The Division and Compromise between “Abdication” and “Transmission”
- II. Consultations, Nominations, and Trials
- III. Political Succession and Fate
- IV. Abdication, Retirement, and Caring for Life
- 10 The Shuihudi Qin Bamboo Manuscript Weili zhi Dao and the Confucian Style Political Ethics in the State of Qin
- I. “Taking Officials as Teachers,” the “Way of Officials,” and the Political Ethics of the State of Qin
- II. “Being an Official,” the “Heart of the People,” and “Exemplary Models”
- III. Leniency, Justice, and Tolerance
- IV. Respect, Vigilance, and Dedication
- V. Benevolence and Filial Reverence
Just as history is constantly being created anew, intellectual history, as a part of history, is also being portrayed anew by new methods. There are different factors which encourage the emergence of such results: the adoption of new methods, perspectives which alter observations, attention laid on different facts, the discovery of new texts, and so on, all of these bring new transformations in how intellectual history is written, and among all of these, the discovery of excavated texts is most capable of breaking new grounds. Ever since the 1970s and especially the 1990s, there has been a large quantity of early texts which have been discovered, and again seen the light of day, they offer a new opportunity to portray anew the intellectual history of that time. The research in this book is just one part of this; moreover, it is only one part of Confucian thought.
There are a great number of excavated texts which have to do with Confucian thought. This is without a doubt. It is precisely these texts which allow us to know some never before known stories about the Confucians. We can generally discuss these stories from two large aspects. One of these large aspects is that these excavated texts greatly increased the number of Confucian texts. To differentiate them regarding the tombs in which they were found, the Hubei Jingmen Guodian bamboo slips (excavated in 1993), the Shanghai Museum Zhanguo Chu bamboo books (purchased in 1994), the Tsinghua University Zhanguo ←ix | x→bamboo slips (purchased in 2008), etc., are all from tombs of the Warring States period. The Hubei Jiangling Wangjiatai Qin bamboo slips (excavated in 1993), the Hubei Yunmeng Shuihudi Qin bamboo slips (1975), the Yuelü Shuyuancang Qin bamboo slips (purchased in 2007), etc., are all from tombs of the state of Qin period. The Gansu Wuwei Han bamboo slips (excavated in 1959), the Shandong Linyi Yinqueshan Han bamboo slips (1972), the Hebei Dingzhou Bajiaoguo Han bamboo slips (1972), the Hunan Changsha Mawangdui Han tomb silk manuscripts (1973), the Anhui Fuyang Shuanggudui Han bamboo slips (1977), and the Peking University Xihan bamboo manuscripts (purchased in 2009) are all from tombs of the Western Han period. The date of the tomb in which the bamboo and silk texts were found is basically the latest date of these bamboo and silk texts, but is not the date which they were written. Other than this, the date which these texts were copied is not the same as the date which they were written. There are many of these bamboo and silk texts excavated from tombs which are early Confucian works.
Differentiating them from the relationship between the excavated texts and the transmitted texts, there are some texts related to Confucian thought and some of them which were not recorded or transmitted and are the “missing thousand ancient texts.” These unrecorded texts can been seen as one category, and of these, there is the Dingzhou bamboo book of Rujiazhe Yan (the transmitted text Kongzi Jiayu contains similar content); there are the Mawangdui silk books of Desheng, Ersanziwen, Zhong, Yao, Zhaoli, Miuhe and more; there is the Guodian bamboo manuscripts of Lumugong Wen Zisi, Qiongda yi Shi, Tang Yu zhi Dao, Zhongxin zhi Dao, Chengzhi Wenzhi, Zun De Yi, Xing zi Ming Chu (this is also seen in the Shanghai Museum texts, there titled Qingxing Lun), Liu De and the Yucong (1, 2, 3, and 4), and so on; the Shanghai Museum has the Kongzi Shilun, Min zhi Fumu (its content is seen in the Kongzi Xianju chapter of the Liji and the Lunli chapter of the Kongzi Jiayu, but there are some differences), Zi Gao, Lubang Dahan, Congzheng, Rongchengshi, Zhonggong, Jingjian Neizhi, Jikangzi Wen yu Kongzi, Junzi Wei Li, Dizi Wen, Neili, and Xiangbang zhi Dao; the Tsinghua bamboo books include the Xin shi Wei Zhong, Bangjia zhi Zheng, Bangjia Chuwei, and more; there is the Weili zhi Dao and more of the Shuihudi Qin bamboo texts (which is also seen in the Yuelü Qin texts). There is another category of texts which have been recorded in the historical records but which were not transmitted. This category primarily includes the fragments of the Wangjiatai Qin tomb text Guicang and the silk version of the Mawangdui’s Wuxing (this is also seen in the Guodian texts, but without the “explanation”). There is also another kind which is recorded in the historical texts but is a different version from that ←x | xi→of the transmitted text. The most important of these includes the Guodian’s Zi Yi (also seen in the Shanghai Museum texts), the Yanzi of the Yinqueshan Han bamboo manuscripts, the Lunyu from the Dingzhou Bajiaokuo Han bamboo slips, the Zhouyi from the Shanghai Museum, the Zhouyi and the Xici from the Mawangdui tombs, the Wuwei Han bamboo manuscript of the Liyi, and more.
The discovery of these Confucian bamboo and silk texts (especially those of the first and second kind) makes us acknowledge that early Confucian thought is more profuse and complicated. For example, not only are there a great number of Confucian texts among the Guodian and Shanghai Museum bamboo manuscripts, but most of these were heretofore unknown. The discovery of both the silk and bamboo versions of the Wuxing not only allows us to know that there was such a Confucian text called the Wuxing, moreover, it lets us know what the “wu xing” (five actions) of the “Si-Meng” school of thought which the Xunzi criticizes really are. Previously, many scholars were heavily influenced by an argument from silence that says if it is not seen then it does not exist. Obviously, this is not true. The discovery of the Guodian and Shanghai Museum bamboo slips also forcefully negates the effectiveness of this kind of method. Other than this, those who once used a method of doubt to cast a doubting gaze on very many transmitted Confucian texts and related records also made many mistakes. If we continue to see the Liji as a Han text and not a text of Kongzi (often Latinized to “Confucius”) and his later disciples like those before us, then this greatly reduces the range of Confucian texts. The Hanshu “Yiwenzhi” records that the Liji is “the record of the later 70 disciples”: “The 301 chapters of the Liji are the record of the later 70 disciples.” It also records that at the time of Emperor Wu, King Gong of Lu discovered a great number of ancient texts in a house Kongzi once lived in, the Liji was among them. The discovery of the ancient pre-Qin bamboo manuscripts from Guodian, the Shanghai Museum and elsewhere allows us to see chapters and texts such as the Zi Yi, Aigong Wen Wuyi, and the Neili which are similar to the transmitted texts and which allow us to see even more lost texts from the later Confucians, for example, the Wuxing, the Xing zi Ming Chu, the Qiongda yi Shi, the Tang Yu zhi Dao, the Liu De, the Zun De Yi, and more.
The great number of excavated texts not only changed our view of the early Confucian textual world, moreover, it also changed our understanding of the early Confucian intellectual world. Regarding this, we have done much research allowing a new appearance to the Confucians to emerge which has some differences with that of the past. Regarding our research, the transformation of the Confucian portrait brought about by the excavated texts is embodied in different aspects. First, the later Confucians have a complex pedigree and diverse ←xi | xii→origins. During the development of the early Confucians, there is one line that goes from Kongzi to Mengzi and again to Xunzi. The Shiji “Rulinzhuan” says of Mengzi and Xunzi that they “respected and followed the achievements of Kongzi and made them shine brightly and thus exposed the teachings of the Master to the world of their time,” confirming the position of Mengzi and Xunzi within the development of later Confucian thought. However, the details and evolution of the early Confucian pedigree between Kongzi and Mengzi and Kongzi and Xunzi have always been relatively unclear. According to a record in Hanfezi “Xianxue”, after Kongzi, “the Confucians split into eight groups” (i.e., Zi Zhang, Zi Si, Yan, Meng, Qidiao, Zhongliang, Sun, and Lezheng). Other than those of Mengzi and Xunzi, most of these eight are the disciples of Kongzi or the disciples of these disciples; however, this still does not easily reflect the full diversity and complexity of the later Confucians. Most of the disciples of the “four categories” recorded in Lunyu 11.3 are not included in the pedigree of these eight branches.1 The “four categories” of the Confucians also do not include Zengzi. It is generally thought that he was the main developer of Kongzi’s concept of “filial reverence” (xiao 孝). Kongzi had more than seventy famous disciples. Looking at it this way, that the expression of the later Confucians was even more complex and diverse is natural. Some people consider the entirety of the Guodian corpus to be the work of the Si-Meng school of thought, but this is not tenable. Even though we cannot determine from which one of the later Confucians’ hands each and every one of the Guodian and Shanghai Museum texts came from, the content which these texts deal with is broad, and divergences in thought between them are relatively large. They are obviously not the work of a single person. This accords with the diversity of Kongzi’s disciples. There is more on this topic throughout the chapters of this book.
Secondly, the moral capability and internal nature which Kongzi and his disciples loved to discuss, the moral subjectivity and self-sovereignty they emphasized, and even human nature were all given interpretations. From the religious belief and tradition of ritual and music of the “three dynasties” to the rise of the study of the masters in the Eastern Zhou, early thought in ancient China went through an important transformation. The Confucians, as one of the many “studies” of the masters, on the one hand, worked hard to succeed the tradition of the “three dynasties” and especially that of the Western Zhou’s religious belief and tradition of ritual and music. On the other hand, they transformed and altered the tradition of the “three dynasties,” developing a humanism with “humans” at the center and a new anthropocentric system. For the most part, the tradition of the “three dynasties” centered around religious belief and made ←xii | xiii→spirits the standards of the human world, regulating human ethical and moral behavior through the justice of spirits, turning human beings into a passive existence. Different from this was Kongzi and his disciples who saw “human beings” as ethical and moral subjects, saying that “It is man who is able to expand the Way, not the Way that is able to expand man” (Lunyu 15.29) and “I desire benevolence and here benevolence arrives” (Lunyu 7.30). They believed that human beings possessed the ability and the independent consciousness to pursue ethical values, that they are able to cultivate, perfect, and complete themselves in different circumstances. Humans are able to live good individual and social lives through their own efforts.
However, is the moral capability of human beings developed later or do humans possess this kind of capability within themselves naturally? What is the relationship between the mind and human nature? These are the important questions the early Confucians pursued. Kongzi’s famous explanation is that “the natures of people are close but they are far apart in their customs” (Lunyu 17.2). According to the excavated texts, Kongzi’s disciples developed the question of human beings’ moral subjectivity into a question of human nature and the mind, they explored the internal foundation of human beings’ moral conduct, and connected all of these questions together. It can be seen from the Wuxing, the Lumugong Wen Zisi, and other rediscovered texts that the later Confucians transformed the Confucian moral regulations of ritual into a study of the heart-mind and nature internal to the self. The “classic” of the Wuxing clearly differentiates “behavior” (xing 行) into “inner” and “outer,” emphasizing the individual “moral circumspection” (shendu 慎独); the “explanation” turns “moral circumspection” into a method for concentrating and focusing one’s mind and internal personal integrity. Regarding their exploration into internal human nature, the Guodian bamboo Xing zi Ming Chu (this also appears as the Shanghai Museum’s Xingqing Lun) is even more classical. There is a high possibility that its author is Gongsun Nizi. The Liji “Yueji” has also been considered to be written by him. Comparing the “Yueji” and the Xing zi Ming Chu, they certainly both have similarities in their view on “human nature” (xing 性) and “human emotions” (qing 情). According to a record in Wang Chong’s Lunheng, Shi Shuo, Mi Zijian, Qi Diaokai, and others all discussed the problem of human nature and human emotions. Their basic view was that human nature has both good and bad; their theory can be called a “dualistic human nature.” It can be confirmed that after Kongzi, the problem of human nature and human emotions received the attention of the later Confucians. Because things are like this, there is a new starting point to understanding Mengzi’s and Xunzi’s theories of human nature.←xiii | xiv→
There are five chapters regarding this aspect (the first to the fifth). The discussion in the first chapter explores the Confucian “mind-body unity” as well as the structure of Confucian benevolence through the character “renb” () composed of “body and heart-mind” of the Guodian bamboo slips. It attempts to alter the general way of thinking which understands Confucian benevolence established in the character composed of “person and two” (rena 仁). The second chapter discusses the meaning of the various concepts of “human nature” (xing 性), “human emotions” (qing 情), “heart-mind” (xin 心), and “dao 道,” raising determinative cases regarding doubts and difficulties within the Xing zi Ming Chu. The third chapter mainly explores the basic structure of the concept of “deb 惪” in the Wuxing, attempting to wholly comprehend its special characteristics and meaning. The fourth chapter mainly discusses the concepts of the “theory of moral circumspection,” “study for oneself,” and “public concern,” attempting to provide a new meaning for “moral circumspection,” thinking that “moral circumspection” does not mean vigilance in one’s solitude, but instead is “guarding oneself” and “concentrating the heart-mind.” The fifth chapter mainly revolves around the Qiongda yi Shi to discuss the theory of moral self-sovereignty and view on circumstance of the Confucians through a comparison between textual records across the transmitted texts, emphasizing that the Confucians have a complicated reaction to and interpretation of the event of the “trouble in Chen and Cai” and that Kongzi has a strong position of free will and autonomy regarding morality.
Thirdly, the early Confucians studied, interpreted, and transmitted the “six classics”; believed in the “six classics”; and established a hermeneutics of the classical texts. Great civilizations from different parts of the ancient world all shared a common feature in that they established classical texts and promoted the continual creation of humanity’s spiritual life and civilization through them. Regarding this aspect, the culture represented by the Confucians is very prominent. According to a record in the Shiji, on the whole, the “six classics” (the Shi, the Shu, the Li, the Yue, the Yijing, and the Chunqiu) were compiled and edited by Kongzi.2 According to a saying in the Hanshu “Yiwenzhi”, the Confucians “fully concentrated on the six classics and paid careful attention to boundaries of benevolence and appropriateness.” On the whole, the “six classics” which the Confucians believed in, especially the Shu, the Yi, the Shi, the Li, etc., had a long history of transformations and transmissions. However, in the past century, the academic world did not accept that the Confucian “six classics” and their interpretations originated in the pre-Qin era, pushing the formation and hermeneutical study of the “six classics” as far as back as the Han dynasty, thus emptying out the classical foundation of early Confucian theories and thought ←xiv | xv→as well as the tradition of “transmission.” The excavated texts prove that this “theory of late appearance” is not tenable. The Guodian Xing zi Ming Chu lists four of the classics and even provides a summarization of their main characteristics, and in Yucong 1 of the Guodian manuscripts, we can see a summarization of the “six classics.” The Zi Yi already uses the sentence structure of “the Shi says” (Shi yun) to quote large amounts from the Shi. This shows that the six classics were already formed and widely studied, read, and recited. The discovery of the Shanghai Museum Yijing (the Book of Changes) proved that this text had already been formed and was a transmitted text at that time. The Mawangdui’s Ersanziwen, Zhong, and especially the Yao give evidence for the fact that Kongzi delighted in studying the Yijing late in his life. Kongzi’s interest in the Yijing was not in divination, but instead in understanding virtue and meaning through an explication of its hexagrams and accompanying line statements. This is precisely what the Xunzi “Dalüe” meant by “being good at the Yijing without divining.” This encourages us to take another look at the relationship between Kongzi and the later Confucians and the “commentaries of the Yijing” (the “ten wings”).
There are three chapters which are about this topic (the sixth to the eighth). The sixth chapter mainly discusses the origins of classical Confucian hermeneutics as well as its manifestation thinking that it appeared before the Han dynasty during the Eastern Zhou. The seventh chapter mainly discusses the pedigree between the Shanghai Museum’s Shizhuan and the Confucian Shi (the Odes) thinking that it came from the hands of the later Confucians, that is, it is a text of Kongzi’s disciples which explains the Shi and reflects the early interpretative tradition of the Shi and which moreover embodies the penetrating value of education in the Shi. The eighth chapter mainly explores why Kongzi produced a strong interest in the Yijing in his old age, thinking that the content quoted via the phrase “the Master said” (zi yue) in the “commentaries to the Yijing” is more or less the words of Kongzi which fully express why Kongzi “was fond of the Yijing,” explained the Yijing and his search for the values for “virtue and meaning.”
Finally, the rich early Confucian political philosophy also had different degrees of influence on political life. The Confucians had as their goal a peaceful world and the establishment of a good political order. Regarding this, the Confucians had done much thinking and had abundant knowledge, among which is included how political actors should obtain and use political power. According to Confucian political thinking, those who have virtue and ability are best suited for political positions. Kongzi’s followers believed that the method which the ancients adopted for the highest levels for the transfer of political ←xv | xvi→power was “abdication,” or the practice of “choosing worthies and raising up those capable.” The rediscovered text of Tang Yu zhi Dao gives us a better understanding of the Confucian concept of abdication and their consciousness thereof.
There was a tension between Confucians and the Eastern Zhou in their attempt to adapt to competition and seek power due to their passionate idealism and principledness. From Kongzi to Mengzi and Xunzi, none of them were able to display important use in political practice; however, the moral values and governance which they pursued were still influential during the Eastern Zhou period. For example, other than the political order promoted by Huang-Lao thought, they also absorbed Confucian moral measures. The transmitted text of the Guanzi embodies this point and the excavated Huangdi Sijing realizes it even further. Another important example is that the state of Qin did not simply rely on laws to rule, but they also had a side of moral governance. There are quite a few texts regarding Qin law among the newly excavated texts from the Shuihudi bamboo manuscripts, and this clearly shows that law was very important in the state of Qin. However, it was not the only thing within Qin political life. The Shuihuidi bamboo manuscript of the Weili zhi Dao provides evidence for how political ethics was expressed in the state of Qin. This text was a soft regulation and ethical compass for the bureaucrats in the government of the state of Qin and even though it merged elements of Daoist, Legalist, and Mohist thought together, its main element was Confucian, making it, on the whole, a Confucian style political ethics. This can be confirmed. There are two chapters which discuss this aspect (chapters nine and ten). Chapter nine mainly discusses the Tang Yu zhi Dao, exploring its ideas on the concept of “abdication” and the transference of kingly power, thinking that abdication is not as simple as it would first seem, but instead has a complex sequence and many other requirements. The tenth chapter primarily revolves around the Shuihudi text of the Weili zhi Dao and shows through internal textual evidence how it is threaded through by a Confucian style political ethics and how it is a classic case of the influence Confucian ethics had on political life in the state of Qin.
On the whole, the changes that the excavated texts bring regarding the appearance of the early Confucians are diverse. We can no longer rely on certain fixed impressions of the past of the early Confucians. We must adapt to these changes and fully utilize these excavated texts to openly face the early Confucians and their tradition, to strive to present a new image of the early Confucians which possesses “commensurability.”←xvi | xvii→
1According to the records in Lunyu 11, different aspects have different classical models. There is Yan Yuan, Min Ziqian, Ran Boniu, and Zhong Gong for virtuous conduct; there is Zai Wo and Zi Gong for speech; there is Ran You and Ji Lu for undertaking political affairs; and there is Zi You and Zi Xia for cultural learning.
2The Shiji records: “Kongzi was not a scholar-official, he retired and edited the Shijing, the Shang Shu, the Yili, and the Yue. His disciples were numerous and spread throughout the world, yet none of them found official employment” (Kongzi Shijia). “From the Son of Heaven to the feudal lords and all those under them, it was the words of Master Kong which were taken as the standard meaning of the six classics within the middle kingdoms, this can be called reaching sagehood!” (ibid.).←xvii | xviii→
- XVIII, 390
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Hardcover)
- Publication date
- 2021 (August)
- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. XVIII, 390 pp., 2 tables.