Week 3: Wed. Sept. 11 and Fri. Sept. 13

Assignments: check you have done all the steps in [this document] by 6pm, Tue Sep. 10.

Wed. Sept. 11: Spring and Autumn period (770 BCE-481BCE)

Please use the Pad to share your thoughts, ideas, questions before, during and after class.

  • Textbook: Hansen, Valerie. The Open Empire: A History of China to 1800. Chapter 2: “The Age of the Warrior and the Thinker: Double Ears and Confucius (770-221 B.C.E.)”
    • Pp. 56-68.
  • Primary source: Selection of stories from the Zuozhuan (Commentary of Mr. Zuo). In Owen, Stephen. An Anthology of Chinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997. (PDF)

Compare this source with the previous types of information we have encountered in this course. What function may this text have served? Think about the motivations of the writer to put pen to paper; who were his intended readers? How can this type of source be useful for us, and which caveats should we observe when using this text?

  • OPTIONAL EXTRAS: Some important texts that were known and consulted during this period, but shed light on the Western Zhou (check with your textbook, chapter 1)
    • Cai, Zhongqi. How to Read Chinese Poetry: A Guided Anthology. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. [e-book Trexler]
      • “Chapter 1: Tetrasyllabic Shi poetry: The Book of Poetry (Shijing)”.
  • Lynn, Richard John, and Bi Wang. The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching As Interpreted by Wang Bi. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. [e-book Trexler]
  • “Chinese Heroes, Kings and Destroyers” Great Mythologies of the World. Directed by Kathryn McClymond, Julius Bailey, Robert André LaFleur, Grant L Voth, and Teaching Company. Great Courses, 2015. DVD. (Video on Canvas)
    • This is a half hour exploration of some of the key figures in early Chinese mythology, including Yu the Great and some of the “evil last kings”. These are staple figures of Chinese culture, even if from a modern historian’s point of view they are more myth than history.
  • Slides (Gdrive link)

Fri. Sept. 13: Confucius and his time, and early Warring States thinkers (6th C. – 3d C. BCE)

  1. We will look more closely at the Zuozhuan text (Primary source from Friday)
  2. A closer look at the most important thinkers of the pre-Qin intellectual world:

“I fear that students of Chinese thought will be condemned to perpetual reinvention of the Sinological wheel unless they accept as a given the reality that the Classics are not absolute texts, but texts which exist as functions of different historical contexts – contexts indicated by the commentaries. In other words, no text exists qua text, independent of its particular intellectual milieu and specific audience. All too often in deciphering a text, we identify a quotation from, say, the Analects, rush to the Harvard-Yenching index series to locate chapter and verse, then rest content with the translation hazarded by Legge or Waley. We would do well to heed the words of the scholar Ku Chieh-kang 顧頡剛 (1893-1980) [Gu Jiegang], who warned us to ‘take one Confucius at a time.'”

Michael Nylan, _The Shifting Center: The Original “Great Plan” and Later Readings_. Monumenta Serica Monograph Series, 24. (Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica, 1992), 10-11.

It is difficult to over-estimate the significance of Confucius to the history of traditional ànd modern China. Let’s take “one Confucius at a time” and start at the beginning, with the Master’s own words, and compare his ideas with a few of the other masters who helped shape the world of ideas in early China.

Please use the Pad to share your thoughts, ideas, questions before, during and after class.

  • Textbook: Hansen, Valerie. The Open Empire: A History of China to 1800. Chapter 2: “The Age of the Warrior and the Thinker: Double Ears and Confucius (770-221 B.C.E.)”
    • pp. 68-89 provides background for the primary sources.
  • Primary sources:
    • Selection from Analects. In Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1: From Earliest Times to 1600. Edited by Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1999. (PDF)
    • Selection from Mencius. Translated by D.C. Lau. Penguin Classics, 1970. (PDF)
    • Excerpt from Xunzi, Vol. 1, books 1-6. Translated by John. Knoblockx. Stanford Univ. Press, 1988. (PDF)
    • Selection from Mozi: The Complete Translation. Translated by Ian Johnston. Hong Kong: Chinese Univ. Press, 2010. “Universal Love 1” (or “Impartial Care”) (PDF)
    • Selection from Laozi.Translated by D.C. Lau. Penguin Classics, 1963. (PDF)
    • Selection from The Complete Works of Zhuangzi. Translated by Burton Watson. New York: Columbia Univ. Press. Chapter 17: “The Autumn Floods.” (PDF)

Questions to ponder: what makes each of these thinkers different from (or linked to) the others? What are their thoughts about “a good human”? And about “a good ruler”? Do they offer solutions to the political instability of the time? Does any of this speak to you, living in the 21st century?