Response To
Mansvelt Beck

The IIAS Newsletter review of December 1998, signed by B H Mansvelt Beck, makes statements which may represent widespread impressions, and asks questions which may occur to other readers as well. We don't mind answering them.

Mansvelt Beck. "It is widely recognized that classical philosophical texts, often attributed to and named after an individual, may in fact be the result of an accretion process around an older nucleus."

Brooks. If so, it is hard to understand the outrage with which our suggestion that the Analects is an example of this pattern arouses later in this review. But in fact, we have never encountered such a recognition. Disharmonious elements in early Chinese texts are usually explained away by a harmonizing exegesis, or more rarely as interpolations (see Waley's treatment of the "Dauist" stories in LY 18:5-7, or Makeham's handling of the Sywndzian "rectification of names" passage, LY *13:3). They have never been recognized in recent scholarship as evidence of a text formation process. The most extensive working-out known to us, of the idea that parts of an early Chinese text may be of different date, is Rickett's study of Gwandz, and even this does not give a scenario for the institutional continuity which, we feel, must be presumed to lie behind the Gwandz, or any other text, if its survival over time is to be explained. For the Analects, it is true that some scholars "acknowledge" Tswei Shu's demonstration that LY 16-20 as a whole are later than LY 1-15 (developing Ito Jinsai's earlier view that LY 11-20 are later than LY 1-10). But to our knowledge, no commentator has ever made consistent use of those conclusions in explaining Analects passages. Such "acknowledgement" is far from "recognition." It is indistinguishable from denial.

In any case, our book goes far beyond the point reached in this matter by Jang Sywe-chvng, or even by Tswei Shu. We claim to have developed the Ito/Tswei hypothesis (as further refined by Pokora and others) to the point where it constitutes an internally consistent theory of the Analects. This new and more complete hypothesis may perhaps be less easy for future scholars to ignore.

Mansvelt Beck. "Are mere 'inconsistencies' . . ."

Brooks. Inconsistencies are not "mere." They are serious. They are an implicit challenge to the idea that a text represents the thought of one person at one time.

Mansvelt Beck. " . . . proof of an accretion process?"

BrooksNo. They are evidence that the text is not monolithic. They may, for example, be interpolations, things requiring to be discarded before the text can be read as intended. In an accretional text, the inconsistencies are recognized as part of the process that produced the text: they are not discarded, but incorporated into a text-growth theory, which makes them after all harmonious in immediate context.

An accretion hypothesis, to be successful, must show that the inconsistencies are such as can be resolved by positing an order of addition of the material which has these properties: (1) The addition process is physically plausible. (2) It accounts without contradiction for any apparent contemporary references and any relations of synchronicity or dialogue with other texts, and (3) It does not introduce new inconsistencies in the course of resolving the old ones. Finally, (4), the divided or reordered text as a whole must be historically plausible: implied developments must proceed in the direction attested by external evidence, and no implied development may proceed in an opposite direction.

These more stringent requirements are met in The Original Analects, as outlined in Appendices 1-3 and as demonstrated in extenso in the translation. This does not mean that our hypothesis is final. It does mean that our hypothesis is tenable.

Mansvelt Beck: "Do philosophical schools change their values as soon as the going gets tough?"

Brooks: Philosophical schools do whatever they may be observed to do; there can hardly be an a priori rule. But it seems to us intrinsically likely that philosophical schools, if they survive at all, will tend to adapt their position to changing situations. All documented or presently observable philosophical and political position groups do so. Whether a given adaptation amounts to a "change of values" (insofar as this is not merely an emotional question) would need to be examined case by case. It is, however, among the possibilities: changes of values not infrequently occur in the history of intellectual movements, as witness the reversal of early Christianity's stance toward Judaism. Han Confucianism certainly adapted its standpoint, and among other things changed the ranking of its favored canonical texts, in the course of meeting the new challenges and opportunities offered by successive Han imperial reigns. We feel that such institutional alertness to change is likely for Warring States Confucianism, faced as it was by the diversity of opinion and brilliance of advocacy which are known to later ages as the Hundred Schools.

We find one major shift of values within the Analects. It occurs between the 05th century rvn-based chapters, and the 04th century and later li-based chapters. This amounts to a ritualization process, a shift from the ethos of the individual warrior (or courtier) to the proprieties of the more public bureaucratic state. That shift is contemporary with the emergence of the first philosophy of the new-type state, which is in the earliest (04th century) portions of the Gwandz. That shift, from the small and highly personalized state to the large and militarily more efficient state, is probably the single most consequential historial event between the fall of Jou and the unification of the Sinitic states by Chin. The Analects school might have ignored it. But if instead they chose to take note of it, and to shape their public policy in terms better suited to it, who are we to raise an eyebrow?

Mansvelt Beck. "Do they announce their new stance by forging 'words from the Master' which they then pass off as genuine?"

Brooks: Whether the new sayings were intentional impostures in the minds of those who wrote them, as the ugly word "forging" would imply, or were pious additions in good faith, in the manner of the Christian preacher who addresses a contemporary problem with the formula "What would Jesus say?" cannot be known from the available evidence. We do know from the text itself that, at least at the end of its history, in the vicinity of LY 20, new sayings were composed and entered in the school record before being given out for memorization. We also know from quotations in the Mencius that Analects sayings both early and late were equally accepted as canonical by the Mencians. Beyond that lies psychological speculation, from which we prefer to refrain.

Mansvelt Beck: "Why do they keep the old offending verses?"

Brooks: The old passages, sometimes inoffending but often situationally inadequate, constituted an institutional identity. The adversarial quotation of Analects sayings by the Mician school show that the public image of the Lu Confucian school during its lifetime consisted in part of those sayings, and that the Lu Confucian school identified itself to its world, and to its rivals, in those terms. The school must thus have based its claim to distinctiveness, both at the Lu court and in the wider discourse field, not solely by its doctrines, but in some degree by its monopoly of the persona of Confucius, as articulated by supposed sayings of Confucius. To jettison its publicly known archive, or any part of it, or to abandon the "Confucius said" rhetorical device, might well have amounted to abandoning or compromising that claim.

The behavior of text-based institutions over time (churches with their scriptures; states with their constitutions) is that for the most part they adjust the text base by addition or amendment, not by deletion. In the case of amendments which eliminate the force of the original clauses, those clauses, though operationally neutralized, are textually retained. There are exceptions to this tendency, but we see no evidence in the Analects to suggest that the Lu Confucians were exceptional in this regard.

Mansvelt Beck. "If the answer is 'veneration for the old text,' this leads to the question: Why did they rape the old text by interpolating into it?"

Brooks: "Rape" is a rather hysterical way of putting it, but interpolations in earlier chapters (as distinct from the addition of new chapter modules) do to some extent spoil the careful and beautiful design of those chapters as originally constructed, the chief feature of which is a multi-layered formal parallelism. We have noted, at various points in our commentary, efforts by individual interpolators to insert pairs of sayings, or to place single sayings next to original ones with which they might be seen to have a thematic link, perhaps to avoid that effect of intrusiveness. These seem to show a concern to minimize the formal damage.

The motive for interpolations, as distinct from additions, was presumably to achieve greater consistency in the text as a whole, and not to let any shifts of position emerge too obviously on a consecutive reading of the whole. The celebrated case of LY *9:1, added (we conclude) in a later li-based period to neutralize the manifest emphasis of the earlier rvn-based period, is perhaps the clearest example of an attempt to change by a single addition the import of earlier text layers. The exceptional preposing (rather than, as was normal, the postposing) of the li-based LY 3 is, we feel, another gesture in the same direction. We can only conclude that for a sufficient philosophical end, the text proprietors were willing to accept some loss of literary elegance.

This amounts to saying that the Analects is more a philosophically concerned than a literarily driven text. We doubt that this estimate will occasion much surprise among reflective Sinologists.

Mansvelt Beck: "And perhaps most of all: Do the authors really want to say that ninety-five percent of what 'the Master said' is not what the Master said?"

Brooks: The exact figure is 97%, but the answer to the question is Yes. We want to say that the words of Confucius were preserved across the pre-Imperial centuries, not in a vacuum, or merely for the sake of preserving them, but by a sustained and engaged philosophical and political effort which is represented by the rest of the text. As a parallel, the Christian Gospels do not consist solely or even chiefly of logia of Jesus (as only LY 4 consists of uncontexted logia of Confucius). Rather, they are largely made up of narrative frameworks for those sayings, and of new or revised narratives, and they are supported in the New Testament by documents from Paul, or Peter, or other heroes of the early Church. Some of those heroes are mentioned by name, others contribute anonymously or pseudepigraphically. Much the same seems to have been true of the growing Analects tradition. One named hero of the Analects is Dzvngdz of Wu-chvng, whose death (an event, by the way, which Confucius could not have witnessed) is recorded in LY 8:3. In our commentary we suggest that this dying self-estimate be compared to that of his Christian counterpart, Paul of Tarsus, in 2 Timothy 4:7. The latter reads: "I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished the race." An effort to preserve the content, and the momentum, of a received tradition is manifest in both passages.

The influence of Dzvngdz on later Confucianism, and the influence of Paul on later Christianity, have sometimes been deplored by historians. Their influence, for better or worse, was probably the price of their positive contribution in sustaining those traditions over difficult, and indeed critical, periods. We would suggest that both Confucius and Jesus are historically fortunate to have found successors and champions who could preserve their message, amplify it, and maintain it in a vitally relevant form, which of necessity was also an evolved form, across the many vicissitudes of time and chance.

And on the evidence of the many moments of eloquence to be found in Analects layers which by position must have been added after the death of Dzvngdz, we would have to add, not Dzvngdz only, but a whole line of not unworthy stewards of the Confucian heritage (the large-hearted final remark in LY 18:6 is as eloquent, albeit in a lost cause, as anything in the book). We think Confucius would have approved, and we think that Jesus would also have approved, of the further enrichment of their heritage by those to whom it had been entrusted.

As to how such founders might have regarded one who instead kept the original heritage inviolate, protecting it from further growth, we cite the words of the Lord from Matthew 25 (slightly abridged). The Lord is here talking about whether people will go to Heaven or to Hell:

For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one. . . Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So too he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master came and settled accounts with them. He who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more. His master said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much. . . And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, Master, you delivered to me two talents, here I have made two talents more. His master said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much . .

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you did not winnow, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours. But his master answered him, You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. . . And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness, there men will weep and gnash their teeth.

So, what additional interest have the Analects proprietors gained over the years, by investing their capital of Confucian sayings abroad in the world of intellectual commerce? Were there any returns from that larger world? Consider the "father be a father" line from Gwandz, which for many now typifies the social essence of Confucianism. Consider the "rvn is love of others" line from the Micians, which inaugurates the third or Mencian populist period of Confucianism, transfiguring an original virtue of selflessness into a policy of social concern. Consider the "recitification of names" notion from Sywndz, which underlies the orthodox theory of Confucian exegesis of all the classical writings, as well as giving advice to the architects of the new bureaucratic state. So yes, it may be thought that there were benefits. Not merely a greater chance of survival into the future, but a wider opportunity of usefulness in that future.

Stewards of wealth in times of inflation and economic expansion need to bestir themselves to keep ahead of the market, to keep their heritage from dwindling to nothingness. Confucianism as a whole had entirely transformed itself by Han, annexing the technique of adjudication from the Legalists, stealing the literal thunder from the Cosmologists, and muscling the Dauists out of their tradmark populism, which they in turn had previously taken over from the Micians. Confucianism won by changing; it became the official ideology of Empire by successfully absorbing what their rivals had to offer (the late Confucian Sywndz makes no secret of his eclectic appropriation of the best his rivals had to offer, berating them as he did so for being stewards of an incomplete truth). In this tremendous historical context, our suggestion about the Analects boils down to just this: its proprietors were part of a long process of adaptive transformation, and carried it a long way, until the destruction of Lu brought their contribution to an end. The process was then carried on by others. But those others might well be grateful to their predecessors who, in the two centuries after Confucius, had kept Confucianism alive and growing, current with the expanding times, and had passed to them, not a scroll of quaint sayings, but a living heritage, capable of further growth and final victory.

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