The Establishment of the Zhong xin zhi dao as a Text

Dirk Meyer, Leiden University
WSWG 17, Leiden University, 18 September 2003


To read the various GD Tomb 1 manuscripts — here, the Zhong xin zhi dao — means to take up a challenge. The difficulties in reading this manuscript do not merely lie in the epigraphically very difficult Chinese characters. The Zhong xin zhi dao contains numerous opaque characters, and lacunæ that occur at vital locations in the manuscript. The essential problem of comprehending the Zhong sin zhi dao, however, lies beyond this demanding textual situation; it lies in its language itself. This calls for a new strategy of reading this somewhat chaotic and incomprehensible manuscript.

From this follows the main assignment of the interpreter: to create a "sensitivity" for the language of this manuscript. This in turn calls for an understanding of its "text-immanent" structure. Only then is the interpreter of the Zhong xin zhi dao able to establish this manuscript as a hermeneutical product (after the definition of Gadamer).

In this paper I claim that understanding the "text-immanent" structure of the Zhong xin zhi dao means to uncover parallel components. These components always occur in the structure of an A, B, and C-sentence, which is the elementary pattern of all sections within this manuscript. This essential structure is doubled in four sections, whereby an Overlapping of the C-component is achieved. The pattern then appears as an AB, AB, C-structure.

I will furthermore claim that this structure does not merely exist on the micro-level (section level), but is also inherent in the macro-level of this manuscript.

To become aware of this "text-immanent" structure does not merely mean to understand the Zhong xin zhi dao as highly crafted, cohesive, and stringent. I will moreover argue that to uncover its structure is a prerequisite of understanding its actual definitions of terms, such as junzi, zhong, and xin, inter alia.

This reading of the Zhong xin zhi dao through its "text-immanent" structure aims at establishing an approach through which the gap of an alienation of language (but not only of the Western reader with the language of the Zhong xin zhi dao) might be bridged. On this basis I hope to offer the key for reading and understanding this WS manuscript.


All lectures and abstracts posted on this site are Copyright © by their authors.

 Back to Conference Program

24 June 2003 / Contact The Project / Conferences Page