East Asian Languages and Cultures | Readings in Chinese Philosophical Texts I
C571 | 24231 | Eno


Topic:  Methodological Issues in the Study of Early Confucian Texts

This course will explore methodologies for philological
interpretation of pre-Imperial Chinese philosophical texts.  We will
begin by focusing on the Confucian Analects, a text that presents a
rich set of critical challenges concerning dating and hermeneutic
strategies.  We will employ three types of material, apart from
reading very closely in the Analects itself: (1) ancillary ancient
texts, such as Sima Qian's accounts of Confucius and his group in
the Shiji; (2) texts from the commentarial tradition, especially the
earliest commentary, collected in He Yen's 3rd century A.D. Lunyu
jijie; (3) philological studies of the Analects, such the recently
published study by Bruce and Taeko Brooks, The Original Analects.

We will then spend some time exploring more generally the
scholarship of hermeneutics to enrich our approach to the Analects
and to probe other early Chinese texts.  We will discuss analyses of
hermeneutic (text-interpretive) techniques, both theoretical
studies, such as Richard Palmer's Hermeneutics, and examples of the
very developed tradition of synoptic gospel philology, such as
Rudolf Bultmann's The History of the Synoptic Tradition, and E.P.
Sanders’ formulations of text-critical rules.

Finally, we will explore some newly unearthed manuscript (bamboo
strip) materials, dating from the late fourth century B.C., to
explore new light they shed on received texts and to observe the
initial interpretive strategies used by paleographers.

Basic knowledge of literary Chinese will be necessary, but no prior
experience in text criticism or paleography is assumed.  During the
initial weeks, students will read broadly on pre-Imperial Chinese
history and thought to assure a common basis of knowledge.