Original Analects Supplement
LY 20

Passages: 3

Prefatory Note. Our present LY 20 is really two chapters. One is a composition in the style of an ancient Shu document (LY 20:1), which, whatever its original purpose may have been, was not meant to be an Analects chapter. It was probably bundled with the Analects text when it was hastily hidden in the wall of Confucian Headquarters in the year 0249. In TOA, we have treated this extraneous piece as an interpolation in LY 19 (see p192). Here, for simplicity of reference, it and the following LY 20:2-3 are brought together. The Analects text, as later recovered from the Headquarters wall, did begin a new chapter at our LY 20:2, and thus, counting 20:1 as a separate unit, had 21 rather than 20 chapters. This distinction is important for the history of the text, though it is something of a problem for a smooth translation of the text. The other is the few remaining passages, our 20:2-3, which were the beginning, albeit the abortive beginning, of a chapter which the School did not last long enough to see realized.

20:3. This passage was added to the school text (and hence was found in that text when it was recovered in Han from the wall of the Analects Headquarters in Lu), but it had not been memorized by the school's students (and hence was not included in the Analects as taken down from the memory of one of those students in early Han). These, then, were the last moments in the life of the Confucian School of Lu. How shall we imagine these last lines to have been written? The acceptance of Fate might be a realization of how constrained were the possibilities of the Analects group under imminent threat of extinction, along with Lu itself, by Chu armies. The emphasis on li could be an accommodation to life as it would have to be lived under the Age of Sywndz, the philosopher of li, an age which even before the final conquest was already upon them. But the final clause, about interactions among colleagues, seems to suggest that we have here just one more guideline for the standard virtues in standard situations. We should probably conclude, then, that Confucian thought ended not with a bang of new ideas, whether efficacious or not, but with a whimper of reiteration. Our original note pointed to the degree of advancement over the position taken in the earliest Confucius saying, LY 4:1. We now ask about its adequacy to the challenge of the year 0249. It was not enough; nothing would have been enough. But the end might have had more intellectual distinction than we feel safe in attributing to this saying.

This Supplement is Copyright © 2001- by E Bruce and A Taeko Brooks

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