Current Research

The Terracotta Warriors

Our area of primary interest is the land of Confucius, and our original and lasting focus is on him and the other philosophers of the classical period. That period (the "Warring States," the 05th through 03rd centuries) is represented by some twenty major texts, many of them "school" texts which accumulated over decades or longer. Some have continuations under the Empire, when some classical texts, especially military and governmental ones, were still further extended, to address ongoing needs of state.

In addition to their individual compositional histories, the classical texts also interacted with each other: The period may be thought of as one long public debate on what government should be like, how it could best achieve its purposes - and even, at the radical fringes, what those purposes should be. The resulting tumult has been disdainfully called by Sywndz the "Hundred Schools." It is more justly seen as the Golden Age of Chinese thought.

Our studies of one key text were published as The Original Analects (Columbia 1998). That book seeks not only to restore the original order of chapters, but to identify the interpolations which most chapters contain, by which the text proprietors sought to minimize the difference between old and new doctrines. The result reveals the long history of the Confucian movement over more than two centuries, including a drastic change of leadership, the abandonment of one primary value (public service) for another (ritual propriety), and an initial enthusiasm and later rejection of meditation as a way of knowledge. We are pleased to report that this study has now been translated into Chinese - in effect, returning the Analects to its home country.

Current research focuses especially on the Mencius and on texts which interact with it, including the late Analects, but also the Dau/Dv Jing, the Dzwo Jwan, the military texts Sundz and Wudz, the statecraft compilation Gwandz, the sub-elite Mwodz, Sywndz, and Jwangdz. Ongoing discussions of these and other matters are hosted on the Project's dedicated E-list Menciana, with publication possibilities in our journal Warring States Papers. Interested persons are welcome to join in.

Here are a few topics which seem to us to offer attractive possibilities for future study.

Sinological Topics

  • The Dzwo Jwan in Chi
  • The Audience of the Gwo Yw
  • The Anti-Meditative Da Sywe
  • Military Escalation
  • Sophistication of Argument
  • The Art of Definition
  • The Late 04c Invention of Philosophy
  • The Expedient Career of Sywndz
  • The Negative Jwang Jou
  • The Formation of Chu Literature
  • Han Extensions of the Classical Texts
  • Shr Interpretation in Han

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