Ancient China in Context
Man, Myth, and Movement
A Taeko Brooks and E Bruce Brooks
This book starts with Confucius' father (a noted warrior), follows his teachings and those of his successors in the Analects school of Lu, and continues past the extinction of Lu in 0249 to track the Confucian movement: its prohibition in the Chin dynasrty and its official acceptance in Han. This portait contains much familiar material, but also several surprises.
Confucius in his youth had a modest position in the loyalist group around the exiled Lu Prince. He was used on one unofficial mission under the next Prince, and under his successor, A--gung, he was something of a senior statesman, without important position, but respected as a mentor to the next generation of young candidates for a place among the servine elite. In that role, he quietly revolutionized the ideology of that group, remodeling the old warrior ethic into a civilian one, which allowed the individual some leeway for individual discretion. These new individuals were loyal, not to the ruler, nor yet to the state, but to principle. It was at this point that China acquired something like a civic conscience.
Confucius died in 0479. His tradition was carried by a succession of disciples who headed the Confucian school of Lu, and who linked Confucian thought to the traditions of the unified Jou dynasty. By the end of the 05th century, the head of the Confucian school enjoyed a special relation with the ruler of Lu. Leadership of the school passed in the 04th century to members of the Kung family, whose emphasis was on ritual. All this time, by inventing sayings of Confucius to serve as authorities for their evolving practice, the Analects leaders added to their school text, which we now call the Analects.
At the end of the 04th century, the Analects proprietors adopted an antiwar stance, which soon led to their losing political influence. From that point on, the Analects plays something of a bystander role in the disputes between the various philosophers. It maintains a relationship with the separate school of Mencius, who had once been part of the Analects school, and indeed includes some material from the Mencian writings. Leadership in the Confucian movement had passed to other hands, not only Mencius, but the more abrasive Sywndz. The posthumous schools of both men continued to guide Confucian thought into a more rigid classicism which was at the same time receptive to Dauism. Emphasis on the memorization and teaching of texts made the Confucians seem useful to the unified government of the Empire, and after being suppressed under Chin, the Confucians gradually gained acceptance as teachers and public servants under the Han dynasty.
How much did the official Confucianism of Han resemble the first teachings of the historical Confucius? This perennial question is one that readers of this book will be able to decide for themselves. For an overview of the entire period, which puts Confucius and Confucianism in larger context of early Chinese thought, see The Emergence of China.
See the complete Table of Contents
Subject Categories: Confucius, Chinese Philosophy
A TAEKO BROOKS is Research Associate, and E BRUCE BROOKS is Research Professor of Chinese, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Confucius: Man, Myth, and Movement
224 pages, 8 illustrations, 6 x 9"
$46.95 cloth. ISBN 978-1-936166-25-1
$23.95 paper. ISBN 978-1-936166-65-7
$22.95 Ebook. ISBN 978-1-936166-85-7
Tentative Release Date: August 2018
When announced, this book may be ordered from the University Press of New England.
14 Jan 2014 / Contact The Project / Exit to Publications Page