Papers on Philosophy II

Medieval to Ming
Wednesday
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room 5

  • Olga Bonch-Osmolovskaia, “Classical Scholarship in the Three Kingdoms Period: Exegetical Methods and Commentarial Types”
  • Sophia Katz, “The Scholarship of Chen Xianzhang 陳獻章 (1428–1500) and Confucian Sub-Traditions”
  • Immanuel Spaar, “Confucian Education Under the Influence Of Wang Shouren: Cultivation Of The Elite And Instruction Of The Populace”
  • Nikolai Rudenko, “Allusions in Chinese Philosophical Texts: Problems of Detection Method and Interpretation”

Olga Bonch-Osmolovskaia, “Classical Scholarship in the Three Kingdoms Period: Exegetical Methods and Commentarial Types”

The objective of this paper is to analyse the process of the development of Early Medieval Confucian commentary as one of the most important forms of the existence of exegetical tradition and to identify the basic laws and generalising factors of its dynamic development. The historical scope of the study is confined mainly to the Three Kingdoms period since it was in precisely this time that after the fall of Han dynasty Confucian exegetics had undergone serious structural and ideological changes, as well as the emergence (or rise of popularity) of new types of commentary and shaping of new scholarly and intellectual ideals, which to a large extent determined the course of exegetical thought development in subsequent eras, took place. The paper is based on detailed analysis of commentarial works themselves (when not survived, then reconstructed, mentioned, or cited in other historical sources) and accounts from official dynastic histories, especially their biographical and bibliographical chapters. This material allows to identify particular characteristics of each commentarial type frequently used by medieval exegetes (for example, nan 難, bo 駁, wen 問, ping 評, yin 音, lun 論, yi 議, zhu 注, jie 解, etc.), systematically analyse and compare them, correlate their functions, popularity/unpopularity with the changing trends in Confucian exegetical thought, and, therefore, identify the main factors of its development.

Sophia Katz, “The Scholarship of Chen Xianzhang 陳獻章 (1428–1500) and Confucian Sub-Traditions”

This paper focuses on the interpretations of the scholarship of Chen Xianzhang 陳獻章 (Baisha 白沙, 1428–1500), an influential yet controversial figure, whose role in shaping the Neo-Confucian tradition was evaluated differently by Ming and post-Ming intellectuals. Whereas Huang Zongxi 黃宗羲 (1610–1695), as many scholars after him, considered the teaching of Chen Xianzhang as “extremely close” to that of Wang Shouren 王守仁 (1472–1529), the views of Chinese literati who lived and worked during the earlier part of the Ming dynasty were contrary to Huang’s later assessment. Zhan Ruoshui 湛若水 (1466–1560), Chen’s immediate disciple and influential scholar in his day, placed Chen within the line of orthodox transmitters of the Way while presenting an alternative understanding with regard to the essence of this transmission. Another Ming dynasty scholar, Gao Panlong 高攀龍 (1562–1626), claimed that the scholarship of Chen Xianzhang was not connected intellectually to the views expressed by Lu and Wang, but rather to those of Shao Yong 邵雍 (1012–1077). Evaluating different assessments of Chen Xianzhang’s scholarship, his own thought and his philosophical influences, this paper exposes a diversity of Neo-Confucian sub-traditions during the Ming Dynasty.

Immanuel Spaar, “Confucian Education Under the Influence Of Wang Shouren: Cultivation Of The Elite And Instruction Of The Populace”

Educational matters were formally monopolised in the early Ming dynasty (1368–1644), when the court established community schools and defined an educational common ground. But soon the influence of the court on what in modern terms is understood as education diminished. One attempt to gradually popularise a Confucian understanding of learning and education has started with Wang Shouren (1472–1528). Despite his disagreement with official interpretations of key passages in the Confucian canon, what Wang practised was still deeply informed by Confucian ideas gleaned from the canonised writings. My presentation uses Wang Shouren’s dispatchment to Jiangxi between 1517 and 1521 as a perspective on educational policies that were implemented by the scholarly elite. It will work out a focused theoretical background regarding teaching and learning concepts from the Confucian canon. This leads to a judgement of Wang Shouren’s legacy in Jiangxi in terms of educational measures. The solutions he proposed were a reaction to local politics. They combined Confucian-educational ideas with administrative-political reality. I will rely on source texts from the complete works of Wang Shouren in order to present his communication to officials and to ordinary households. After Wang’s death, people from Jiangxi were decisive in forming new learning curriculums. They gradually took over educational matters formerly belonging to the central court of the Ming. Therefore, despite intellectual discussions and factional strife, I tend to see Wang and his school in a larger developmental process of the late Ming, with potential inclination to the education of commoners.

Nikolai Rudenko, “Allusions in Chinese Philosophical Texts: Problems of Detection Method and Interpretation”

One of the most difficult but crucially important operations a researcher needs to carry out during the translation of Chinese philosophical texts is the detection and correct interpretation of allusions and references to other texts—mostly to philosophical and historical Classics and famous poetry. In particular, the essays of A Book to Burn (Fen shu 焚書), the opus magnum of late Ming thinker Li Zhi (李贄, 1527–1602), are flooded with different kinds of allusions, dealing with which inevitably becomes an issue of vital importance to any researcher who tries to reconstruct its core philosophical ideas.
On the basis of my previous research of A Book to Burn I would like to share my experience concerning the stated problem and overview the main instruments for detecting allusions I use as well as to offer a draft typology of allusions based on their function (e.g. appellation to authority, implicit irony, and critique, increase of expressiveness, construction of multi-level philosophical concepts etc.). During the presentation, several cases of these allusions’ detection and interpretation will also be demonstrated. The presented method has already shown relatively high efficiency: for example, in Li Zhi’s autobiographical essay An Outline of Zhuowu in [the Form of] Discourse (Zhuowu lun lüe 卓吾論略) 19 allusions have been detected, while infamous previous translations of this essay into English (Pauline C. Lee), German (Ph. Grimberg), French (J.F. Billeter) and Modern Chinese (Zhang Jianye) together only 6 of them were discovered.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room 5
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Medieval to Ming