The object of this homework is close reading an analysis. Below, you will see four consecutive entries from The Analects of Confucius; all concern filiality. The four passages may seem simply to say the same thing four times on first reading, but the editors of the Analects were sharper than that. In fact, the four passages each lay stress on a different aspect of filial conduct. We have already discussed passage 2.8 in class. Here, the distinctive message is this: The key to filiality does not lie in following rules of obedience, it lies in the manner in which you perform your role. We can understand this by analyzing the passage into its two parts and seeing that they work by contrast: the second part (rules like, "the young take on the heaviest physical labor, etc." are not what filiality is about) clarifies the first (filiality is all about the expression on your face as you act). Because readers probably initially did believe that the rules were the key, the passage has the force of surprise.
The other three passages all work in similar ways (although 2.6 does not actually have a contrasting part - we have to figure out what parents need not "be concerned" about).
Read passages 2.5, 2.6, and 2.7 closely, analyze how their component parts fit together, and write 1-2 sentences on each passage explaining the unique point of each passage. Your analysis should make it clear why these passages are, in fact, not simply delivering a single message three times.
Print out your responses and hand them in as hard copy (with your name indicated) at the start of class on Friday, September 14.
2.5 Meng Yizi asked about filiality. The Master said, "Never disobey." Fan Chi was driving the Master’s chariot, and the Master told him, "Meng Yizi asked me about filiality and I replied, ‘Never disobey.’" Fan Chi said, "What did you mean?" The Master said, "While they are alive, serve them according toli. When they are dead, bury them according to li; sacrifice to them according to li."
2.6 Meng Wubo asked about filiality. The Master said, "Let your mother and father need be concerned only for your health."
2.7 Ziyou asked about filiality. The Master said, "What is meant by filiality today is nothing but being able to take care of your parents. But even hounds and horses can require care. Without respectful vigilance, what is the difference?"
2.8 Zixia asked about filiality. The Master said, "It is the expression on the face that is difficult. That the young should shoulder the hardest chores or that the eldest are served food and wine first at meals – whenever was this what filiality meant?"