Leiden 2003 (#1)
A personal impression of WSWG 17
17-18 September 2003 / Leiden University
[In the opinion of participants, WSWG 17, the first Warring States Project Conference to be held on the continent of Europe, was a great success. To the permanent record of the proceedings, we here add some informal impressions by way of supplement]
WSWG 17, a public lecture followed by a conference on the plan which the Warring States Project (located at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst) has made familiar in the United States, took place in Leiden, Netherlands on 17-18 Sept 2003. Leiden University was the host, with funding provided by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) and the University's Center for Non-Western Studies (CNWS). The Conference featured 22 papers by participants from the US, Mexico, and eight European countries (Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy). It also served as a workshop for Leiden's advanced students in Sinology. The coordinator for Leiden University as host institution was Professor Barend ter Haar, and local arrangements were made by graduate student Paul van Els. Netherlands weather contributed an unseasonably sunny two days to the occasion, a farewell gift from Europe's hottest recorded summer. In the opinion of all who attended, including the indirectly reported opinions in which one somehow reposes greater confidence, the occasion was a great success.
WSWG Conferences do not usually open with a lecture, but this occasion was special in some ways, one being that the eventual Conference plan was built around an original lecture invitation. The lecture, "Philology in an Old Key: Lord Shang Revisited," was delivered by Warring States Project Director E Bruce Brooks. It was offered in homage to Leiden University philologist Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540-1609), the star of the Leiden University faculty in its early days, and sought to vindicate and extend the work of another Leiden professor: J J L Duyvendak's 1928 study of the neglected but central Legalist text Shang-jywn Shu (SJS).
Briefly, it was argued that Duyvendak had successfully shown that the SJS is a growth text, and must be dated later than Lord Shang, with whom it is traditionally associated. It was also argued that traditional philology is not well equipped to deal with text growth (as distinct from text corruption), and that its techniques must be extended (among other ways, by developing a unified methodology for directionality problems) if it is to operate successfully in this area. It was noted that New Testament philology is also beginning to be aware of a problem with its working concept of "original text." An example (the rabbit story) which occurs in SJS, LSC, the Yin Wvndz, and the Shvn Dau fragments, was analyzed to show the limitations of traditional Western text criticism (as employed in Paul Thompson's 1970 and 1979 reconstructions of those fragments) in dealing with growth problems as distinct from corruption problems. An alternative analysis was offered, based on methodology perhaps more appropriate for this situation; it suggested that the rabbit story had become worn down in literary usage to a mere mnemonic of itself, over the Chin and Han dynasties, and was embodied in that worn-down form in the "Shvn Dau" compilation put together sometime in Han and duly recorded in HS 30. The claim of the Chywn-shu Jr-yau extracts (made in 631) to represent the Han Shvn Dau has been well argued by Thompson, but his further claim that this story in particular represents the historical Shvn Dau is not well grounded, and comparison of his modest 1970 and more drastic 1979 treatments of the rabbit story will show a straining after that stronger conclusion. The stronger conclusion is, however, invalid.
Chapters 10 and 11 of SJS, its probable core, were shown to be statecraft essays later overlaid with military maxims, and provided with a new Chapter 12 to make a military group of three. The text proprietors evidently wished, at that point, to identify their corpus of statecraft essays as having military value, and quite possibly the internal association of the work with Lord Shang dates from that period. The probable period in question is likely to be the advent of the dominant figure Lw Buwei, who began his career with a military exploit in 0249 and continued as a senior minister and cultural impresario thereafter: Lord Shang, whose career was also seen as military in its essence in the late 04c and early 03c, would have been a tempting choice as a counterpart figure, of even greater standing in Chin memory.
SJS 4 was similarly shown to be a digest and joint update of the earlier Chapters 5 and 20A (Duyvendak had rightly insisted on the division of SJS 20 into two parts, as an independent stylistic analysis revealed); and Chapters 1 and 26 were recognized as final framing statements, which first *explicitly* associated the work with Lord Shang, and placed it in the larger history of Legalist thought. This process of continual internal updating and renewal was noted as typical for a Chinese advocacy text. The close interplay between SJS and other Chin intellectual influences (Fan Swei from c0265; Lw Bu-wei from c0250; Li Sz from shortly thereafter; the remnants of the Lw Bu-wei circle as the highly Confucian Chin Academy from 0221) was briefly suggested, as was the larger relation between the SJS as one monument of western statecraft thought, and the earlier Gwandz as the corresponding eastern monument. SJS proved to be indebted to Gwandz at the beginning and subsequently, but as it assumed a position of its own, there was also a reverse influence, and the SJS (by then textually fixed) continued to be drawn on by the Han continuation of the Gwandz. It was also excerpted in extenso in the final phase of the Han Feidz, which like the Han twilight of the Gwandz presumably came to an official end with Emperor Wu's decision in favor of Confucianism as a public ideology in 0136. These relationships invalidate some clichés of Legalist history, such as the tripartite origin theory offered at one point by the HFZ, which still turns up in such works as the Vandermeersch survey, and in Western scholarship generally, and reveals a somewhat different formation dynamic for Chinese statecraft thought, as a category of Chinese thought in general.
The lecture ended with a final reference to Scaliger.
The lively discussion following the lecture, at the standard distance of the "Leiden quarter of an hour," ranged over parallel situations in other Warring States texts, analogous ones in bodies of work attributed to the classical Greek philosophers, and the possibility of post-Karlgrenian tests of stylistic rather than linguistic similarity. The question of the Han Feidz was raised, and answered sufficiently for the purpose by citing the obvious posteriority of HFZ 12 to HFZ 3 (two treatments of the same theme, the first one clumsy), and of HFZ 53 to HFZ 27 (the former borrows from the latter without understanding its meaning); Hagop Sarkissian's work on HFZ 20-21 (which also cannot be by the same author, and which violate the Lyou Bang taboo which is largely respected by the rest of this giant work) was also noted. The general scholarly presumption in favor of the model of a great founding figure, with no or ineffective contributors to his later tradition, was debated on the territory of the Jwangdz, where (as verified by a show of hands) it is widely accepted that the so-called Inner Chapters (JZ 1-7) are the authorial territory of Jwang Jou, yet the HS 30 entry does not acknowledge this or any other division within the text, and no Han or earlier work citing or implying the Jwangdz either mentions as such, or implicitly privileges, those seven chapters. On the contrary, LSC focuses heavily on JZ 28, and the Shr Ji specifically attributes to Jwang Jou none of the Inner Chapters, and few of the Outer Chapters, but chiefly Miscellaneous Chapters. The supposed safe authorial territory of Jwang Jou gets less respect the close in time one moves toward the alleged Jwang Jou, and it would thus seem that the Great Founder pattern has thus been imposed on this text after the fact. The text is not after all an example of the pattern. Some heads nodded in agreement.
It was not felt necessary to add that in other traditions also, even if Great Founder idea is present as a paradigm, we do not actually treat most sequences in that way. Haydn is the acknowledged inventor of the symphony, and the arduous progress of that invention is painfully evident through the more than 100 examples in his gigantic corpus. Here is the symphony's fountainhead. But we do not customarily speak of Mozart as the symphony's wai-pyen, nor of Beethoven (Haydn's literal pupil) as its dza-pyen. Au contraire: we speak of a culmination and a developmental ascent. Haydn himself may be allowed to judge the general proposition, from the inside of one of this particular case. Said Haydn, "I am not the best of my school, though I was the first."
Duyvendak Memorial Banquet
Dinner, which followed at the student restaurant De Oude Harmonie, was all that could be imagined as to decor, and all that could be desired (with a little help from the Belgians on the beer side) as to menu. The place was noisy, but it was the noise of spirited conversation among two groups totaling some two dozen vocal Sinologists, and was as vivid as could have been wished, if only locally audible in detail. There is something to be said also for the audible panorama; the larger soundscape, as a testimony to general intellectual activity.
No fights broke out, no bottles were broken, no duels ensued, and all hands (plus a few late arrivals) were back at the Hotel De Doelen, picturesquely overlooking the Rapenburg Canal, for the first Conference session proper, at perhaps just a little after the prescribed hour of 19:30 (7:30 PM).
13 Oct 2003 / Contact The Project / Exit to News Page