Response to
Liu Xiaogan (2)

[We here resume our response to Xiaogan's Foreword]:

Liu. [xix] The Brookses believe they have established the "original" truth of the matter, while Jensen does not believe there is objective truth to discover; however, both of them acknowledge inspiration from Ts'ui Shu (1740-1816) and Ku Chieh-kang (1893-1980).

Brooks. The contrast as to "truth" is well taken. We do indeed differ with the postmoderns as to whether there is anything "back there" in history to talk about. The soundness of Xiaogan's statement thus rests on the "Tswei Shu" parallel. But that parallel turns out to be overdrawn. Lionel refers to Tswei Shu exactly twice in his book. One is at p23-24, where he says:

I should point out that I do not consider such fictiveness problematic in the way that, for example, Gu Jiegang (1893-1980) did seventy years ago, when he followed a path pioneered by Cui Shu (1740-1816) and discovered that Chinese antiquity was intricately and reiteratively layered by the inventions of later scholars.

Lionel here distinguishes his approach from that of Gu and Tswei. The mention second is at p172:

Beyond, and perhaps because of, this, even kaozheng [evidential research] scholars partial to the ru tradition like Jiang Yong (1681-1762), Duan Yucai (1735-1815) and Cui Shu (1740-1816) were not moved to query the term's meaning beyond that provided by these inherited glosses.

Lionel here points out a shortcoming of Tswei and company. He does not show a disposition to regard them, with or without Gu, as his own models in inquiry. The only model in inquiry whom Lionel acknowledges in his Introduction is Hans-Georg Gadamer (p28). On the other hand, our book is dedicated to Tswei Shu, for reasons set forth in the Afterword, and our analysis of the Analects begins, on p201, with the point reached by Tswei Shu, and it continues in the direction indicated by that result. Is there not a certain distinction between Lionel's stance and our own, in this matter? Xiaogan said as much in the remark quoted at the top of this page. We think he should take his own statement seriously.

The device of linking our work to Lionel's, despite an admitted contrast in both methods and conclusions, and then dismissing both as "postmodern," was tried by Li Dzv-hou in 1998. We thought our Response to that review had settled the matter. We regret that this second statement has turned out to be necessary. Lionel's work deserves to be judged on its own qualities. So does ours.

Liu. Ku was the leader of the "doubting antiquity" (i-ku) movement in the 1930's, and was in turn inspired by Ts'ui. The movement carried on the convention of textual analysis and was stimulated by Western scientism; in return it has influenced Western scholars. The doubting antiquity movement asserted a revolutionary and emancipatory force in the study of China's ancient history and of political progress in societies, but most of the arguments and conclusions inspired by its underlying ideology of skepticism have proved unsound because they were not based on new evidence, but rather on new presumptions and speculation.

Brooks. Xiaogan's button seems to have been pushed by his own mention of those cultural traitors, those intellectual pariahs, the "doubting antiquity" people. His attitude toward them is admittedly a very common one at the present time. That proves little. The present time, it may be remembered, is the one in which the Chinese government has intervened to make official pronouncements about the date of the Sya Dynasty. Doubt about the Sya Dynasty, or about anything else ancient, is not a good career move at the present time. Beyond the question of career moves, Xiaogan seems to feel that the papers in the seven volumes of Gu Shr Byen, the text of the Gu Jye-gang movement, are nothing but "presumption and speculation." That notion will not survive the reading of a few of those pages. We don't endorse any specific findings of the Gu Shr Byen group. We differ with many of them. But to dismiss their work as mere imagining, insults scholars to whose enterprise and example the mind of modern China, whether or not it cares to admit it, owes much.

Liu. [xx] The overall findings of archaeologists fell against the arguments and hypotheses of the skeptics, and there is a point in this for our present discussion. Here I would like to introduce information from the recent discovery of the Kuo-tien bamboo-slip texts that provides additional evidence for my contention about Munro's research, and the work of Jensen and the Brookses. [xxi] These discoveries reveal a simple truth: the extant texts we have today represent only a tiny part of the historical legacy of ancient China.

Brooks. No reader of the Han Palace Library catalogue (preserved in Han Shu 30), that is to say, no Sinologist of standing, ever doubted that much of the Warring States literature was lost before Han, and that much of what still survived in Han was lost afterward. To have "revealed" this "truth" is a zero result. Everybody knew it. It is intriguing, now, to have a glimpse at a few of those lost texts, but no "overall" point about text inventories has been established by the Gwodyen finds, or by all finds taken together.

Liu. Thus Ku's contention that the later the works, the more of them and the more likely they were to be forged, and the Brookses' "accretion" theory seem to fall short.

Brooks. Is it proper to point out that this drastically misstates Gu Jye-gang's position? His "reverse antiquity" principle (earlier discovered by Tswei Shu) points out that the supposedly earlier sage emperors first appear in successively later texts, over a time span including the Warring States and Han. Our researches by and large tend to confirm that result, in greater detail though also in slightly different terms. As for the classical texts themselves, we find that many of them were compiled gradually over that same time span. No archaeologically discovered text so far modifies either finding. On the contrary, all archaeologically discovered texts so far support both findings.

Calligraphic Separator

To see one instance of this, let's go back to Gwodyen for a minute (those who have heard this may skip to the end of the page by clicking here and take a look at what Tomb #1 actually contains. (You who are new to the issue, stick around; this is going to be sort of fun).

In May 1990, before the Gwodyen 1 tomb had been discovered, one of us lectured at a conference sponsored by Dartmouth College on an accretional theory of both the Analects and the Dau/Dv Jing. A sketch of this theory was later published in the Prospects paper, written in 1993 while the Gwodyen find had still not been made, and thus before its contents (released only in 1998) had a chance to influence us. It was published under a 1994 date. The "Prospects" theory was thus proposed in total ignorance of the future Gwodyen find.

That theory held that the DDJ was accretional, over the period from the mid 04th century to the mid 03rd century, and that during that period it was compiled in parallel with the middle and late Analects. The two texts, according to that theory, were occasionally in dialogue with each other during that time. One clear instance of the dialogue is seen at LY *14:34 (asterisked because we regard it as an interpolation in that chapter). That passage runs:

LY *14:34. Someone said, Requite malice with kindness: how about that? The Master said, With what then will you requite kindness? Requite malice with uprightness, requite kindness with kindness.

It's rather hard not to see that the unnamed "someone" in this cryptic passage is in fact stating the position of DDJ 63:

DDJ 63: Requite malice with kindness.

This dialogue links those portions of these texts as relatively close in time.

Our 1990 explanation of the DDJ/Analects relationship, as noted, involved an accretion theory for both texts. That theory was intrinsically risky. It had the consequence that if, by some chance, a text of the DDJ dating from the period of its supposed accumulation were ever to be discovered, that DDJ text should be, depending on its exact date, complete at its beginning but more or less lacking at its end. Any other result would be fatal for the theory.

As it happened, such a text was found.

And what did the archaeological facts show? The Gwodyen 1 tomb does date from within the period that would be critical for our theory if it contained a text of the DDJ. (The range of possible dates Xiaogan suggests are between 0316 and 0278, or on average, in the early 03c; our best guess is c0288). That tomb did contain three florilegia drawn from the DDJ. And the selections chosen by those florilegia from the DDJ did indeed show no knowledge of the latter portion of the DDJ text, exactly as we had predicted. Of 81 chapters in our present DDJ, the Gwodyen 1 florilegia include nothing higher than DDJ 63. They treat the last sixth of the text, that is, DDJ 67-81, as though it did not exist. Our theory had predicted that, as of that date, just about that extent of the text would not in fact exist.

The Gwodyen result thus closely confirms our entirely independent prediction of years earlier.

But, it can be objected, the Gwodyen Omission may be of no significance. It may be just a matter of chance. Well, there are ways of judging what is likely to occur by chance, and what is unlikely to occur by chance. In the Project's Newsletter #13 (1999), we explored the statistical situation. It turns out that there is less than one chance in 7,000 that such a lopsided selection from the full 81-chapter DDJ could have occurred by chance.

Statisticians find that an event of 5% probability (likely to occur only 5 times out of 100) is sufficient to raise doubt about the randomness of a procedure, and that an event of 1% probability is usually sufficient to disprove it. Some, working in very sensitive situations, hold to the extreme standard of 0·1% (1 chance in 1,000). The level of 1 in 7,000 (the Gwodyen level) is so extreme that it doesn't appear on any statistical table. As a degree of unlikeliness, it is literally off the map.

That is how strongly the Gwodyen material implies that something funny, something not due to chance, is happening with the last 15 chapters of the DDJ on which the Gwodyen text is presumably drawing. Our theory, proposed long before, explains what that something was. No other theory does so.

So thanks, Xiaogan, for bringing up the subject of the Gwodyen finds. It certainly does help to clarify the issues involved. And it illustrates the power of the accretional theory to explain textual relationships that are simply unintelligible if the texts are understood in the old way.

[The Response resumes on the following page]: 

To Response Part 3

22 December 2001 / Contact The Project / Return to Responses Page