Original Analects Responses
The Postmodern Connection
Our book came out within months of Lionel Jensen's Manufacturing Confucianism. That coincidence has inspired some reviewers to link the two together, and to refute one by concentrating on the other.
This is about as funny as it gets, since the main Project web site spends much time (see, for instance, the Methodology page) ridiculing postmodernism, rebutting its claim to be a valid way of doing history, and instead advocating standard and even quantitative methods. We have openly announced our intention to continue in the tradition of classical Western text philology, and of such Chinese evidential historians as Tswei Shu (see the dedication page of TOA).
The attempt to establish a link between us and postmodernism is also wrongheaded. Lionel's book is not really concerned with the classical period of Chinese intellectual history. To the extent that it deals with that period, it suggests that there is no presently recoverable reality underneath the image processing of later Confucius proprietors ("the dubious historicity of Kongzi, that semifictional invention of the corporate compilers of the Lunyu" and "Kongzi, a mythical figure," his page 156). By the time with which Lionel centrally deals, namely the Ming dynasty, it seems to us perfectly reasonable to wonder what of the historical Confucius could still be recovered. Optimism before the fact is always dubious. But after careful scrutiny of the ancient evidence, and after dismissing most of it as worthless, we still find it valid to discuss, on the basis of what evidence is left, not only Confucius himself, but even some details about his followers (TOA p284). We are not in disagreement about the load of myth under which the historical Confucius had been buried by the late Empire period. We merely find, on inspection, that the sources closer and less close to the historical Confucius can be distinguished.
As some who work the Postmodern Connection gambit actually concede (see for example our responses to Li Dzv-hou and Liu Xiaogan), there is a certain contrast between Lionel's methods and conclusions, and our own. In all seriousness, and in all friendliness to Lionel, we think that this contrast needs to be respected. This can best be done by treating the two challenges separately, for what they are, and not for how some desperate reviewer finds it tactically advantageous to group them.
If TOA can't be refuted without resort to an imaginary Postmodern Connection, then it probably can't be refuted at all.
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