Knowing the Philosophers

Wm Theodore de Bary et al. Sources of Chinese Tradition. 2ed Columbia 1999

Both editors of this work, and many of its contributors, are personal friends. It is therefore with sorrow that certain shortcomings are noted for the guidance of the survey course teachers of the 21st century. But a higher duty requires that these shortcomings be noted. We focus here on Part 1, and within that, chiefly on sections 3 through 9, the period of the classical philosophers, this being a portion which is of special interest to the Project, and likely to be heavily used by survey courses.

Sources 2ed

This work is a two-volume revision of a single volume with the same title, issued by Columbia in 1960. The expansion in the portion represented by Part 1 amounts to 649 > 943 pages, an increase of 45%. As its dedication acknowledges, both versions derive from a characteristic Columbia concern for the enrichment of the undergraduate curriculum. Among questions that will occur to the teacher considering it for course use are: (1) How does the 2nd edition differ from the first, (2) How are students expected to react to the material, and (3) Is the revision current with scholarly progress made since 1960? The short answers are: (1) Larger but narrower, (2) More passively than before, and (3) No.


As others have pointed out, the second edition of Sources is even more singlemindedly Neo-Confucian in outlook than the first. That is, it continues to define "Chinese Tradition" as the intellectual content of the late Imperial examination system, plus the Buddhist tradition of postclassical times. And that late tradition is seen as fundamentally "spiritual." Political, material, and economic history are either ignored or treated as ancillary. There are exceptions, but some of the exceptions don't blend well with the book's own mainstream. Thus, Sources begins with a new section on the Shang oracle bones, but this is a part of the Chinese remote past that the Chinese of the classical past did not themselves know. It represents instead a wider modern understanding of China. Other inclusions from modern knowledge, such as the Mawangdwei silk manuscripts, were also forgotten in the later Empire. What at Mawangdwei really broadens our previous understanding of the mind of Han times is the medical texts, the practical realia of the time. These materials, like the legal documents found at Baushan (high Warring States) and Shweihudi (the years before and after the Chin unification), give us a previously unavailable look at the life and perceptions of the classical period. Or they would if they were represented in Sources. But they are not represented in Sources.

Only the elite intellectual tradition, and that only from a depoliticized Sung Dynasty perspective, is seriously acknowledged in Sources. Of texts relevant to classical philosophy, two additions to the first edition are the Dzwo Jwan and the Sundz Art of War. The latter in particular will appeal to students, many of whom will already know this widely popular text.

The Critical Mind

The 1960 edition, to its credit, did include a few pages from which students could learn that not every modern scholar agrees on the nature of the ancient texts, and that not everything in the ancient texts passed without criticism from other ancient texts; in short, that there is room in this material for the exercise of judgement, and that the ancients themselves sometimes exercised their judgement on it. In the earlier edition, we were given paragraphs where the Shr Ji authors show how they dealt with conflicting traditions, and a quote from Ban Gu disapproving of the Shr Ji itself. We had a sample of Mician logic, a way of establishing valid definitions of terms and of making tenable propositions about those terms. We had a sample of the paradoxes of Hwei Shr, the kind of conundrum which careful logical statement was designed to prevent or unravel. We got a taste of Dzou Yen, whose naturalism was in its time a serious challenge to the moralistic view of history. All this material is excised in the new edition. All of it.

In 1960, we were told about the historical Confucius,

"There is a large body of literature in Chinese, of varying degrees of reliability, on the life and teachings of Confucius. Among this the most important work is [the Analects]." (1ed p21)

but the counterpart statement in the revised Sources reads much more positively:

"The Analects is the single most important source for understanding the thought of Confucius and the traditions to which he subscribed" (2ed p42)

The hint about unreliability is gone. The more specific hint of critical mind inherent in the quote from Tswei Shu (1740-1816) is retained in the 2nd edition, but it is located in Part 2, a different volume, where the students whose classroom experience we are considering either will not see it, or will see it only months later, when it can no longer affect their idea of the classical texts. Tswei Shu's most cogent example of an early authenticity dispute, the rejection of a Shu document as inauthentic in Mencius 7B3, did not find a place in the 10 pages allotted to Mencius selections in the 1st edition, nor is it included in the 42 pages (a 320% increase) given to Mencius in the 2nd edition of Sources.

In short, readers of the new edition are systematically given, not the opportunity for thought, but instead the result of thought. How individual teachers view these changes will depend on their concept of education. It comes to this: Is the student there to think, or to memorize?

William Theodore de Bary

The Classical Philosophers

In what follows, we confine ourselves to a sample of the philosophers presented in Sources, and ask: what sense do student readers get of them, and how might a more modern estimate differ? The short answer is, Students are told that the texts consistently reflect a single personality, and contain no problems of interpretation. Unfortunately, modern opinion suggests that most of the texts contain internal differences, arising from the fact that nearly all of them are accretional: they were compiled over a considerable period of time, and they respond to a series of challenges which were not anticipated in the experience of the founding figure. On this issue, Sources retains the older static view of the texts, where modern critical scholarship increasingly accepts a dynamic model. Herewith some examples.

The Analects

Sources: "There are enough differences in the way Confucius' teaching is described in the twenty chapters of the received text of the Analects to suggest that there must have been multiple recorders or compilers, and it seems clear that these chapters must have been incorporated into the text at different times. Without attempting to reconstruct the historical strata of the work, we offer the following selections in an order that follows the arrangement of the received text as it has been known over the course of centuries in China and in East Asia as a whole. For a cogent attempt to reconstruct the text chronologically, see Brooks and Brooks, The Original Analects. For those who prefer a topical arrangement, the following numbered items in our text may serve as a guide to some of the major themes." (p44)

Comment: The point is not that the different chapters entered the text at different times, but that they were composed at different times, and thus reflect different stages in the evolution of Confucian doctrine. The Han commentators attributed such differences to the filtering of the same teaching through the eyes of different disciples, making them in the end all true of the historical Confucius. This explanation has its limits. One student might have selectively remembered ritual maxims (and recorded them in the present LY 3), and another might have focused on statecraft sayings (and recorded them in the present LY 12-13). These are the areas where the Han explanation sort of works. But other contrasts unavoidably imply a conflict of viewpoint and thus of time. These include the violently incompatible opinions about the ability of certain disciples between LY 4-5 and LY 11, the presence of rvn "otherness" as the chief virtue in LY 4-9 contrasted with the prominence of ritual as the core value in LY 10-15; the absence in the LY 4-9 series, and the presence in the LY 10-15 series, of quotations from the Shr or Poetry classic, the emphasis in the former on thought and in the latter on memory, implying the transition from oral to written culture of which there are other signs as well. There are also themes which mutate, from chapter to chapter, in a way suggestive of gradual legendary growth. One of the most obvious of these is the implied portrait of Confucius, who in the early chapters is a none too successful courtier from an impoverished background, but who in the middle chapters is sought after by the rulers of various states, and who looms at the end of the book as an omniscient sage, residing in a palace that dwarfs that of the ruler of Lu. Engagement with early Gwandz statecraft in the middle Analects chapters, and comments on the Mencius/Sywndz human nature controversy in the late chapters (details which were already pointed out by Tswei Shu, in the 18th century) are another giveaway that the text reflects experiences over something like two centuries.

The implication is that, besides Confucius, the Analects contains evidence for the history of the Confucian movement in Lu between his death and the end of Lu itself in 0249. Which, when you think about it, is an interesting matter in its own right. How did Confucianism change, between the death of Confucius and the beginning of Han? Such questions are not permitted to arise in the Sources treatment, which sees Confucius and Confucianism as indistinguishable. Except for the notorious LY 9:1, the only Analects passage to elicit a comment from the compilers, Sources excludes all Analects material which might suggest otherwise. The result is a highly spiritualized Confucius. His own early struggles, the text's later arguments with the Jwangdz over the issue of accepting political office, and many other humanly interesting and historically pertinent things, are excluded from Sources.

A student of the Analects might have fun picking out the signs of the aggrandization of the Confucius persona in successive chapters of the Analects; here is a cultural myth in the process of constructing itself. Given the rigorous exclusion of most of the relevant material, the student of the Sources selection from the Analects is denied this opportunity for mental effort.

The Mwodz

Sources: "Some of the chapters of the Mozi are believed to represent the view of his later followers, whose utilitarian aims inevitably led them into the study of more basic questions of both a philosophical and a technical character. Thus, for instance, their evangelistic approach and readiness to discuss or debate with anyone may explain why the later Mohist canon is so much concerned with logic and dialectic. Yet even in the portions believed to represent Mozi's original teaching, there is a laborious, even tedious attention to step-by-step argumentation. For this reason, perhaps, Mozi has been much less admired for his literary style, or even for his ideas, than for the nobility of spirit that he revealed in his life of service to others." (p65f)

Comment: Of Mwodz's life nothing whatever is known, so one is free to imagine him spending it in "service to others" if it suits the other evidence, of which there is exactly none. While waiting for it to turn up, we may note that the Mician writings contain many ideological inconsistencies; clear signs of evolution of policy, and updating of text. They imply a Mician school that continually adjusted its political posture over a period that starts in the early 04th century and reaches to the middle 03rd. The ethical triplets in particular (such as MZ 17-19 "Against War") are not "parts" of one discourse, as they are labeled in Sources, they are successive revisions of a position statement. In MZ 17 we probably hear the actual Mwo Di, damning the Confucian elite of his time for their warmaking, and recommending peace as better for business and the common man. By MZ 19, at the end of that series, someone writing under "Master Mwo's" name is allowing that, well, there may be a place for war after all, as long as it is in a good cause. This is a major departure from previous doctrine. It is expedient in a way that would be intelligible in a group seeking a position in government. In support of this thought, there are signs that the Micians at this time were indeed getting into government. They proclaimed an ethic of subordination to authority which may have made them more employable by authority, but may disappoint those who found in earlier Mician documents not only a protest against war, but the world's oldest design for a society based on peace.

The Laudz

Sources: "The name Laozi simply means "the old master." Who the philosopher known as Laozi was, when he lived, and what his connection was with the text that has come down to us, are questions which have been debated for centuries. There have also been lively controversies about when the text was compiled and whether it actually appeared any earlier than the third century BCE. Contemporary scholars are generally inclined to agree that the book known as the Laozi or Daodejing was likely the work of more than one author, writing over a period of time, and that it contains different textual strata. Still, the compiler or compilers of the work seem to have had a rather consistent integrative vision, and despite - or perhaps because of - its brevity the document that has come down to us is one of the most provocative and inspired works in all Chinese literature.. . . But such is the vagueness and ambiguity of the Laozi text and the subtlety of its thought that it may yield different interpretations and be approached on very different levels. At times in Chinese history, notably at the beginning of the Han dynasty, a political interpretation of the text has been highlighted and attempts have been made to translate the doctrines of the Laozi into action through government policies embodying an extreme laissez-faire attitude. But the teaching of the Laozi may also be understood as the philosophy of the recluse, the person of superior wisdom and insight who, instead of taking part in society, chooses to retire from public life to perfect a personal purity and intelligence and to seek harmony with the world of nature. It is this interpretation of the Laozi that has often prevailed in later Chinese thought." (p78f)

Comment: The highlighted passages in the above quote are those which are new in the 2nd edition of Sources. They amount to an acknowledgement of scholarly doubt about the integrity of the text. But these are accompanied, and canceled out, by a refusal to consider the implications of the scholarly doubt. Sources in the end reverts to speaking of the work as reflecting a single mind, and explaining any impressions to the contrary as due to the work's "ambiguous and subtle" character. But the Dau/Dv Jing is nowhere as ambiguous as is sometimes said. Any given statement in it is reasonably straightforward. The complexities come when we try to reconcile all its statements as reflecting one person, or one view of life. If we let the sayings alone, we find (as people have always found) that the meditational portions are heavy toward the beginning of the text, and the statecraft portions equally predominate at the end. These distributional statements, with their clear implications about the formation of the text, are not the sort of data in which Sources deals. If we choose to notice them, they suggest that the DDJ might be the text of a group which began as a self-cultivation movement, soon moved into exploiting its insights as devices of statecraft, and ended by devoting itself solely to the art of rule. From the text which results, the final Laudz, both recluse and ruler can easily pick out passages which suit their interests, and claim to be supported by the text. This is not ambiguity, it is diversity. Sources is not big on diversity.

An enterprising student might have fun considering the shift in DDJ inclusion between the 1st and 2nd edition of Sources. Some chapters been added to the DDJ roster (DDJ 2, 6, 9, 11-13, the end of 17, 22, 29, 36, 38, 39, 47, 56-57, 60-61, 66, 70, 74, 81) but others have been subtracted (DDJ 8, 14, 16, 21, 25, 32, 34, 51, 78). What ideological tendency is at work here? That student will need a full translation, but used copies of competent translations are available for as little as $2.

The Jwangdz

Sources: "While it is now generally accepted that the author and teacher known as Laozi "the old master" was not a single person, Zhuang Zhou, though biographical detail concerning his life is scant, has been recognized as a distinct individual. The Han dynasty historian Sima Qian (145?-86? BCE) records that he was a native of a place called Meng, where he once served as "an official in the lacquer garden," and that he lived during the times of King Hui of Liang (370-319 BCE) and King Xuan of Qi (319-301 BCE). The location of Meng is still uncertain, but it may well have been the feudal state of Song, where hundreds of years earlier the vestiges of the Shang royal family had been enfeoffed. The years of Zhuang Zhou's life are also not reliably known, but if Sima Qian's chronology is even approximately correct, Zhuang Zhou would have been a contemporary of Mencius.

Following the fourth-century commentator Guo Xiang (d 312 BCE), scholars generally attribute to this presumably historical Zhuang Zhou the first seven chapters of the Zhuangzi, which have become known as the Inner Chapters. . . The rest of the Zhuangzi was divided into fifteen Outer Chapters and eleven Miscellaneous Chapters, which are generally acknowledged to have been the work of other, later hands. Given the subtlety and ambiguity of the thought encountered in the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi, it is difficult to characterize it in broad strokes . . ." (p93)

Comment: This statement is an advance on that in the 1st edition, but it still does not fully acknowledge the fact that the Inner Chapters were recognized as a special authorial area only by Gwo Syang and his immediate predecessors in the Six Dynasties, and that no text or library catalogue from the classical or early Imperial periods recognizes such a division, or privileges the first seven chapters in any way (the Shr Ji notice, for example, lists four chapters as certainly by Jwangdz; none of them is from the "Inner" group). Their claim to represent "Jwang Jou" is thus weak. It is also less than obvious that those chapters come from the same hand. Here, as with the Dau/Dv Jing, we find "ambiguity and subtlety" urged by Sources in defense of single authorship in a case where the material of itself does not suggest single authorship. But as with Laudz above, no single Jwangdz passage is all that ambiguous; it is only the Inner Chapter passages taken together that are heterogeneous. And if they were by a single author, that author would probably not be Jwangdz, if only because Jwangdz figures in the butterfly story of JZ 2 (Sources p103) not as insightful, but as puzzled between the competing realities of dream and waking. The whole question of consistency in the text needs to be approached de novo, and areas not at war with each other identified, without the intrusion of such late notions as still limit the view of Sources. That survey would probably include the Wildcat story from JZ 1 (Sources p98) in the pro-Jwangdz pile, and the Butterfly story from JZ 2 in the anti-Jwangdz pile. It would then probably reject both of them as being by Jwangdz, since it is uncharacteristic of Warring States personalities to tell stories of themselves in the third person. The idea of a third-person self-description, like the "Inner Chapters" delusion, is first exemplified by portions of the autobiographical Shr Ji 130, and first fully carried out in the Six Dynasties, in the amusing third-person autobiographical sketch by Rwan Ji. We conclude that the Jwangdz picture presented by Sources owes much to Six Dynasties sensibilities, but is tenuously grounded in the classical period.

The Mencius

Sources: "Mencius traveled from one feudal state to another, speaking to rulers about government, deploring the effects of warfare on the people, and pleading the case for the practicality of humaneness. . . The Mencius is a record of conversations between Mencius and rulers of the contenting feudal states, disciples, and philosophical adversaries. It also includes pronouncements by Mencius on a variety of subjects, especially government and human nature. We find in it not an authorial presence providing form, structure, and coherence to the work but rather a more disparate, even fragmented collection of exchanges that occurred at various times and places and were recorded after the fact."

Comment: This humanistic picture of Mencius (all but the first thirteen words of which are new in the 2nd edition of Sources) may appeal to modern pacifists, but it is not supported by the text. Mencius, in speaking to the rulers of his time, advocated Confucian principles not as a substitute for war, but as leading to efficiency in war. He talked with the ruler of mighty Ngwei about the methods of unification; that is, the conquest and subjection of all the other states. He advised the ruler of great Chi to annex occupied Yen. He counseled the ruler of insignificant Tvng that he could at least die honorably, fighting on the walls against the stronger invaders next door, and that in time, among his descendants, there might arise someone of equal valor but with greater opportunities to convert valor into dominion. This is not exactly what the naive reader will understand by the phrase "pleading the case for the practicality of humaneness."

The Sywndz

Sources: "Xun Kuang . . . was born about 310 BCE. He lived a very long life, during which he may have witnessed the final demise of the Zhou dynasty, which Mencius had anticipated but had not lived to see. In all probability, he was still alive in 219 BCE, and perhaps for several years thereafter, which would mean that he endured through not only the final conquest in 221 BCE by the state of Qin of all of the surviving feudal states but also through at least the initial stages of the formation under the Qin dynasty (221-207 BCE) of the first unified empire. . . The work that bears Xunzi's name, having been compiled and edited more than a century after his time, has not come down to us in its original form. . . Xunzi's work is distinguished from the Analects and the Mencius by the fact that it is not a record of conversations but a work composed primarily of essays."

Comment: For this "century" estimate of Sywndz's age there is not the slightest support in the text. The year of birth here suggested is about right, but Sywndz probably did not long outlive the fall of his Chu patron in 0238; a death in c0235 (aet 75) will adequately cover the situation. If so, then the situation with the next generation is well explained: considerable signs of Sywndzian influence, but no evidence of an ongoing Sywndz school.

The remark about the literary character of Sywndz's writings, however, is both true and important. With Sywndz, we are for the most part in the presence of an actual author, not of a series of anonymous proprietors extending a tradition by writing new material in the name of an aegis figure. This is a new thing in the Warring States, and it was to be highly influential in Han. Not all our present Sywndz is actually by Sywn Ching, however, a matter which needs to be faced before the literary versatility of Sywndz can be appraised at its correct value.

The Sundz

Sources: "According to his biography in the Records of the Grand Historian, Sunzi, or Master Sun, was a contemporary of Confucius who served the state of Wu in its battles with rival states in the late Spring and Autumn period. There is, however, no historical evidence for this patriarch of East Asian strategy in any records before the third century BCE, and the text that bears his name was probably compiled from oral traditions in the second half of the fourth century BCE. The intellectual world of the Warring States period was characterized not only by bitter debate but also by the broad sharing of ideas; through both of these means the Sunzi is conceptually related to many of its contemporaries. One of its more unexpected kinships is with the Laozi, which also eschews conventional morality, emphasizes reversal, and views all things in terms of their relationships." (p214f)

Comment: The Shr Ji "biography" is entirely worthless. Not only is Sun Wu not attested in the classical texts where we would expect to find him (as in the Dzwo Jwan, with its detailed treatment of Wu at the period in question), but all specific references to the authorship of the Sundz, in the Warring States and down into early Han, without exception, associate it not with any Sun Wu, but with Sun Bin, the Chi general who was victorious in the first known clash of modern armies, in 0343. Apart from this positive counterevidence, there is the tremendous fact that the kind of armies envisioned in the Sundz text did not exist in the 06c because the social infrastructure which was prerequisite for them, the centralized economy and the bureaucratic state, had not yet evolved at that time. The notion that the Sundz somehow descends from a remote 06c ancestor must thus be given up in its entirety. That done, we can see that the affinities with the also 04c Dau/Dv Jing, to which Sources properly points, are simply the result of two contemporary texts being in contact, and influencing each other.

Depending on temperament, one either smiles or weeps to imagine how the survey course innocents will be pronouncing the name of the Sundz's first commentator, spelled by Sources with pinyin piety as "Cao Cao." Why this deservedly famous warrior and thinker about war was brought in, if not to convince the students of their inability to pronounce the material, is unclear. Neither he nor his militarily insightful remarks figure in the following snippets of translation.

The translation, though not so credited, is by the Denma Group, all but one of whom know no Chinese. It aims at a cryptic quality, and in that aim it often succeeds. It also aims at a pacifistic understanding of the text, in effect taking the War out of the Warring States. In Denma hands, the book teaches us, not to conduct war, but "to work more effectively with conflict." This is probably as close to the "spiritual" emphasis of Sources as it is possible to get, in dealing with the Sundz. The translation itself contains a few howlers, which it would probably be thought unkind to point out here.

The Han Feidz

Sources: "Han Fei (d 233 BCE) was said to have been a student of Xunzi, but turned away from the latter's emphasis on Confucian self-cultivation and practice of rites to become a synthesizer of several strains of Daoist and Legalist thought. This synthesis involved a Daoist-type mystique of the ruler, now envisioned as presiding over a perfectly defined system of laws and institutions, using techniques of statecraft developed by another Legalist thinker, Shen Buhai (d 337 BCE). For a time Han Fei enjoyed the favor of the Qin state, but he eventually met a violent death through the machinations of the prime minister of the Qin, Li Si (d 208 BCE), a former fellow student under Xunzi. A quarter century later, Li Si himself met a similar fate." (p199)

Comment: The Han Feidz text is the joker in this list. It is often read as an example of Warring States Legalism, but most of it is of Han date, and was written by theorists operating under the safe aegis of Han Fei, perceived as a victim of Chin, rather than under any such hated name as that of Li Sz, the chief architect of Chin policy. Save for a few preliminaries, the Han Feidz text turns out to be a snake with a Dauist head and a Legalist tail. Its early chapters, including two commentaries on the Dau/Dv Jing, suit the early Han vogue for Dauism, a vogue which reached its height at the court of Wvn-di (r 0179-0157). Its later chapters, by contrast, mirror the more draconic centralization and expansion policies of the next two reigns, down to the adoption of Confucianism as the official orthodoxy of state in 0136, at which point the writing of texts reflecting rival views (such as the Han Feidz) instantly ceased. Just as the Analects suggests the growth and mutation of pre-Imperial Confucianism, so does the Han Feidz reflect the rise and angry eclipse of Han Legalism, from an early period where Confucianism was still officially suppressed and the Legalists had things largely their own way, to a later period where a renascent Confucianism inspired ever sharper tirades from the "Han Fei" group. Can the reader of Sources detect at least this development? Of the vast Han Feidz corpus, only two chapters, HFZ 49-50 (further reduced from the already abridged versions in the 1st edition), are included in Sources. They reflect the bitter anti-Confucian end of the text. The lack of early chapters makes the Sources comment about Dauist leanings impossible to understand. Perhaps the anthology should at least have been adjusted to its own introductory material?

So much for the text. The information given by Sources about Han Fei the person is indeed "traditional," but the tradition is shaky. There is no evidence that Han Fei was ever a student at the Sywndz enterprise (though Li Sz definitely was).. There is no evidence that Li Sz brought about Han Fei's suicide in a Chin prison; on the contrary, the earliest tradition is that Han Fei was executed in Chin for falsely slandering a fellow courtier. All the nonfacts in the Shr Ji account were invented to create an image of betrayal by a former friend, to cast Li Sz in an even worse light than his actual deeds justified. The real betrayal here is not of Han Fei by Li Sz, but of the truth about Li Sz by the determinedly hostile Szma Chyen.

In any case, those wanting a sense of Warring States rather than Han Legalism will do better to turn to the Gwandz for eastern thought, and to Shang-jywn Shu or Book of Lord Shang for western. Snippets of both are included in Sources, but a more adequate view, especially of the former, will be obtained by going to the full translations of Rickett and Duyvendak, respectively, and picking one's own material. The earliest chapters of the Shang-jywn Shu (the military series SJS 10-12), that is, the part likely to be closest to the historical Lord Shang, are not included in Sources. As for the Gwandz, whether "much of it is Confucian in tone" (Sources p192) is one of those statements that need to be checked on a wider sample than the lonesome extract from GZ 4, amounting not even to the whole of one of the GZ 4 subsections, which Sources has found room for in its essentially Confucian tour of ancient thought.

The dramatic interplay between early eastern Legalism (the Gwandz, originating in Chi) and the later but more successful western Legalism (the Shang-jywn Shu, representing Chin) is one of the Warring States confrontations for ringside seats to which knowledgeable persons would willingly pay large sums. Its drama was already clear to Reischauer, contemporary with Sources 1ed, but it still eludes the compilers of Sources 2ed. Perhaps next time.

The Smug Confucius


It thus seems that much of the dynamism, the liveliness, the intellect, and the contentiousness, of the classical period has been sanitized out in the Sources treatment. What is left?

For one thing, a recurring emphasis on the jywndz, the morally superior being, as the ideal of antiquity. It is no doubt the ideal of Sung Neo-Confucianism, and of its self-satisfied heirs in the present day. Moral superiority, always assuming that readers are invited to include themselves in it, is an easy sell, especially in the academic world. The present reviewer happens to be a little weary of moral superiority. Whether the great public feels likewise, the sales figures for Sources 2ed will presumably tell.

E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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