When you teach the philosophy of Confucius, surely you use the Analects as a source–probably your main source, maybe your only source. What (if anything) else do you use as a primary source for the philosophy of Confucius (not of Confucianism), and why?
Two points of reference: 1) Mark Csikszentmihalyi’s entry on Confucius in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. With reference to the work of Zhu Weizheng and Michael Hunter, he says, “An attack on the authoritativeness of the Analects… broadens and diversifies the sources that may be used to reconstruct… the corpus of Confucius quotations and dialogues beyond the Analects.” Which sources? Specifically mentioned are the following:
- Records of Ritual, the Elder Dai’s Records of Ritual (DaDai Liji 大戴禮記)
- Family Discussions of Confucius (Kongzi jiayu 孔子家語)
- Zuo Commentary to the Spring and Autumn Annals
- Han’s Intertextual Commentary on the Odes (Han Shi waizhuan 韓詩外傳)
- Recently archaeologically recovered texts from the Han period and before
2) Michael Ing, in the Vulnerability of Integrity, adduces passages from the Kongzi jiayu and the Han shi waizhuan in claims about Confucius’ philosophical positions.
I’m sure there are other points of reference, but these should suffice to jump start a conversation.
Why do I ask? In the past, I have used only the Analects and haven’t felt any reason to reach beyond it. But Hunter’s work has made me re-think that, and like Csikszentmihalyi, I think that rather than foreclosing the Analects as a source of Confucius’ philosophy, Hunter’s work opens us to more possibilities. Plus, I find some of the sources above interesting and compelling.
Clarifications about this post:
A) Not interested here in how you expand on Confucius’ ideas via other texts, such as Mencius, Zhong yong, etc. Might be a good topic for another thread.
B) Not interested here in whether we can reconstruct a coherent philosophy of Confucius. This particular topic is only for those who teach the philosophy of Confucius and, at least provisionally, presuppose that we can discuss his philosophy in a coherent way. Perspectives on “whether” are a good topic for a different thread.