Category Archives: Confucius

New Book: Yong Huang, Confucius

It has just come to my attention that Yong HUANG’s book Confucius: A Guide for the Perplexed (Bloomsbury 2013) has recently been published [publisher’s site] [Amazon link]. I have only had a chance to take a quick look at it, but it looks to be philosophically sophisticated and yet engaging and accessible. Rather than a systematic overview of Confucius’s teachings, Huang tackles a series of questions that arise “in our everyday life or moral reflection,” and argues that Confucius’s answers are the best — or at least, better than available alternative answers in the Western tradition. Enjoy!

New Book on the Analects / Review Opportunity

Palgrave Macmillan has recently published A Reader’s Companion to the Confucian Analects by Henry Rosemont Jr. Further details can be found here.

Macmillan is interested in offering a free electronic version of this title to a scholar interested in posting a review of the book here on Warp, Weft, and Way. If you would like to pursue this, please contact Katie Gordon (Palgrave Macmillan Marketing Executive; and also let one of the blog administrators know. (If you’re not an official contributor, we can arrange to post the review as a guest post.)

Friday’s Neo-Confucianism Seminar at Columbia

The next session of the Columbia University Seminar on Neo-Confucian Studies will convene on Friday, March 1, 2013, from 3:30 to 5:30pm. We will meet in the Board Room on the first floor of the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University. Please note the earlier starting time.

Our presenter for this session is Deborah Sommer of the Department of Religious Studies at Gettysburg College. Her paper is titled “The Body of Confucius in Han Apocrypha.” The paper was originally scheduled for November 2012 but was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy. Please contact one of the organizers if you would like a copy.

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When Confucius criticizes Zhu Xi and more stories…

When Confucius criticizes Zhu Xi and more stories…


I have had the chance to come across fascinating interpretations of the Great Learning in a book titled Daxue zhengshi 大學證釋 (Evidential Interpretation of the Great Learning). To be more accurate, the striking part of the story lies less in the philosophical originality of the interpretations than in the identity of the commentators.

In this volume, the original Daxue text is commented upon by a series of sages (liesheng qishu 列聖齊述) including Confucius, Yan Hui, Zengzi and Mencius… Zhu Xi was also a contributor to this volume and wrote a nice self-criticism piece about his problematic Song-dynasty interpretations of the text. He finally admitted that he got it completely wrong with his former discussions on the “extension of knowledge lying in the investigation of things” (zhizhi zai gewu  致知在格物), etc…  Among the other contributions, the one of Confucius was interesting but I doubt that Zhu Xi enjoyed it much because it happens that he was wrong again ! Kongzi’s line of argument was the following: basing himself on Zhu Xi’s edited introductory sentence of the Daxue (大學之道,在明明德 , 在親民,在止於至善) he criticized Zhu’s replacement of the original 在親親 , 在新民 by 在親民  (understood as: 在新民). He posited that these changes did not reflect “the entirety of Confucian doctrine” (fei rujiao jiaoyi zhi quan yi 非儒教教義之全矣) and highlighted the fact that ideas such as “ruling the country primarily requires to regulate the family” (zhi guo bi xian qi jia 治國必先齊家) or “the foundations of the country lie in the family” (guo zhi ben zai jia 國之本在家) all originated from the “affection to the kindred” (親親), that is, from characters cut off  by Zhu Xi….

I will skip my comments on these comments and concentrate on some background information that might be more interesting. Continue reading →

Nov. 2 Neo-Confucianism Seminar

Our thoughts go out to those in the New York area recovering from Hurricane Sandy! Happily, the lights stayed on in Middletown where I live, though 650,000 people are without power in Connecticut and many more in New York, New Jersey, and beyond. 

Update, 10/31: The Nov. 2 Seminar has been cancelled, and will be re-scheduled at a later date.

The next session of the Columbia University Seminar on Neo-Confucian Studies will convene on Friday, November 2 from 3:30 to 5:30pm.  We will meet in the Common Room in the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University.  Please note the earlier starting time.

Our presenter for this session is Deborah Sommer.  Her paper is titled “The Body of Confucius in Han Apocrypha.”  A copy of her paper can be obtained from any of the Co-Chairs (see below).

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Successful 8th MCCT

Bloomington, Indiana was the site of the 8th Midwest Conference on Chinese Thought, which took place last Friday to Sunday. Our hosts at the University of Indiana (primarily Aaron Stalnaker, Maichel Ing, and Cheryl Cottine of the Religious Studies Department) organized things very well. The group was small enough that everyone was able to participate, but large enough that there was a critical mass to discuss a wide range of topics intelligently. As compared with the more narrowly philosophical conferences that I have mostly been attending, there was a refreshing dose of sinology (details of texts, less-well-known authors, etc.); too bad that the AAS doesn’t seem to be more open to broad discussions of Chinese thought, because it might then be more of a forum for conversations like this one. Two of my personal highlights were Esther Klein’s paper “Sima Qian’s Confucius and the Western Han Lunyu,” which both reviewed recent research on the possible Western Han composition of the Lunyu and presented her own research into citations of the Lunyu in Shiji; and Frank Perkins’s “The Mohist Daodejing,” which explored parallels between the last 16 chapters of the Daodejing (which are unattested in the Guodian texts) and Mohism. Both papers hint at further ways in which our understanding of early Chinese thought may continue to change in dramatic ways in years ahead!

NDPR Review of Amy Olbering's Moral Exemplars in the Analects

NDRP has just published a very nice, charitable-and-yet-challenging review of Amy Olberding’s recent book, Moral Exemplars in the Analects: The Good Person is That. Myeong-seok Kim lauds the subtle insight that Olberding is able to extract from her attention to the Analects‘s “narrative depictions of Confucius in diverse circumstances,” while raising questions about her framework of “exemplarism.” Highly recommended!

Moral Perfection in the Analects (and Beyond?)

As part of some commentary on Paul Goldin’s new book Confucianism, Bill Haines has noted the centrality of the idea of moral perfection in Goldin’s characterization of the basic convictions of the Confucian philosophical orientation. In a subsequent comment, he questions to what degree the ideal of moral perfection was actually held by Confucius. With Bill’s permission, I’m re-posting his comments on this latter subject here, because I think they deserve more attention than they may get buried deep in a comment string. Read on, and please direct your comments to Bill, the author of what follows. Continue reading →

Review Article on Several Books on Confucius

A recent article in T’oung Pao 97 (pp. 160-201) might be of interest to many readers of the blog. In “Recent Monographs on Confucius and Early Confucianism,” Oliver Weingarten of SOAS considers the following books:

  • Il confucianesimo: i fondamenti e i testi. By Maurizio Scarpari. Turin: Einaudi, 2010. vi + 300 pp.
  • Confucius: A Life of Thought and Politics. By Annping Chin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. xiv + 268 pp.
  • Confucius. By Rémi Mathieu. Sagesses éternelles. Paris: Entrelacs, 2006. 271 pp.
  • Lives of Confucius. By Michael Nylan and Thomas Wilson. New York: Doubleday, 2010. 304 pp.
  • Sang jia gou: wo du Lunyu. By Li Ling. Revised edition. Two volumes. Taiyuan: Shanxi renmin chubanshe, 2007. 2 + 11 + 390 + 120 pp.
  • Qu sheng nai de zhen Kongzi: Lunyu zongheng du. By Li Ling. Beijing: Sanlian shudian, 2008. 13 + 7 + 302 pp.
  • Confucius. Spiritualités vivantes, vol. 198. By Jean Levi. Paris: Albin Michel, 2003. 322 pp.

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