China's Studies of Masters in 2009

Studies of Confucianism in China are divided into four parts, they are classics, histories, masters and anthologies. This summary outlines what were achieved in 2009 in China in the studies of ancient masters.

China’s Studies of Ancient Masters in 2009
For “Annual China Studies 2009” under the pen of Song Hongbing for the compilation group, published on “Guangming Daily” on February 22, 2010, paraphrased by Beijing Budding Flower International Cultural Promotions Co., Ltd.
The studies of masters we talk about today, aside from the studies of the Five Classics of the Prior-Qin Period, refer basically to what Feng Zhen (冯振1897.5.10.—1983.3.13) said that “study of masters is study of connotations and reason” (“Prelude to the Twenty Six Dissertations of Masters” Item 1, Volume 1 of “Special Monthly on China Studies”). Therefore, any efforts intended to explore the purport of the Confucianism, Confucius and Mencius can all be considered as studies of masters, which is in line with Zhang Taiyan’s (章太炎) “A Brief Review of Masters”. We should make it clear, while centering around masters in the prior Qin Periods, masters in the later periods are also included in the studies. China’s studies of ancient masters in 2009 are an extension and deepening of studies before and a specific feature of the revival of China Studies as well.
The platform for studies of masters has been enlarged, there have been more and more columns on the studies of masters in various academic journals  “Journal of China Studies” run by the Institute of China Studies of the People’s University has obtained a formal publication and distribution number, in its second issue, “The Social and Individual Features and the Concept of Convergence of Heaven and Man in the Humanitarian Thinking of Confucianism” by Du Weiming (杜维明), “The Consciousness of ‘Social Player’ of Earlier Confucian Scholars” by Wang Zhongjiang (王中江) and “On the Mode of Chinese Culture and Confucianism with Rite as an Example” by Fang Zhaohui (方朝晖) are articles on Confucian thinking from the triangle of sociology. (The 2nd issue of) “Journal of the Masters” run by the Research Center of Prior Qin Masters of East China Normal University gathered the research results from the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, and scholars in Singapore, these researches, a high light in 2009, touched upon Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism, Moism and military Strategist thinking. More attention should be paid to the academic value of these studies. The journal of “Confucius Studies” has kept its characteristics and opened from time to time the column on “Xunzi Studies”, and in its first issue “New Interpretation on Xunzi’s ‘Calm Observation with a Modest and Concentrated Heart’” by Liao Mingchun (廖名春) and “The Nature and Feature of Fu Shan’s Comments on Xunzi” by Zhang Liwen (张立文) were published. In the column of “Chinese Philosophy” in “Studies of Philosophy” a group of articles about Legalists was published with an “Editor’s Note” in order to push forward studies of Legalists.
More and More Attention Has Been Directed to the Studies of the “Pre-Axis Times”  The Studies of masters only flourished in modern times, with the unique model for studying the history of philosophy proposed by Hu Shi and Feng Youlan (胡适、冯友兰) and with the introduction of Karl Jasper’s theory of “Axis Times”, so much importance has been attached to the studies of the times of prior Qin masters, such as Confucius and Lao Zi, which has been considered as the pregnancy period of Chinese philosophy, that scholars who study prior Qin masters today all regard the “Axis Times” theory as the criterion. Different from the practice of the “Axis Times” which focuses on ruptures and breakthroughs, Zhang Guangzhi, Yu Shiying, Chen Lai, Zou Changlin (张光直、余英时、陈来、邹昌林)and other contemporary scholars spent more efforts in the “Pre-Axis Times” and the linkage between the “Pre-Axis Times and the Axis Times”. Some lessons and references are provided to the study of the background and historical origin of the thoughts of Pre-Qin Masters by “Between Virtue and Rites: the History of Thought of the Period before the Masters” (by Zheng Kai (郑开published by the SDX Joint Publishing Company 2009), which centered on the birth and evolution of the systems of virtue and rites, analyzed the characteristics of the thoughts between Western Zhou and Spring and Autumn periods in a varied angles. “Visions of Nature and Men: Studies of the Embryology of Pre-Qin Scholars” (People’s Publishing House 2009) by Liu Xuyi (刘绪义) examined the historical link between the history of witch and rites and music in both the Pre-Qin period and the Period before the Masters, it concluded that the birth of the theories of the masters owes to the cultural consciousness of men. Such an opinion echoes to that the characteristics of the “Pre-Axis Times” was not a breakthrough in surpassing, but rather “a change of direction of humanities”, which was emphasized in “Ancient Religion and Ethnics” (the SDX Joint Publishing Company 1996) by Chen Lai (陈来). While reflecting on Jasper’s “Axis Times”, Liang Tao () stressed in his “Return to Zi Si—Review and re-Structuring Confucian Orthodoxy” (2nd issue of “Academic Journal”, 2009) that each leap of Chinese culture had not only to return to the “Axis times”, but also to the Pre-Axis Times, and that being the mainstream of Chinese culture, Confucianism was a product of the Axis Times, it was a full heres of the civilization of the Pre-Axis Times as well.
A New Direction in Studies of Masters Was an Effort to Surpass the Predecessors by Summing up their Methods and Viewpoints  Through his analysis of the route, with which Xu Fuguan (徐复观1903-1982)interpreted “Analects of Confucius”, Liu Yiqing (刘毅青) concluded that the innate system of the thinking of Confucius was different from the strict formal logic system in western philosophy, he held that only by grasping firmly the definition and features of logic can modern interpretation be as close to original meaning of Confucius as possible (No. 3 issue of “Studies of Confucius”). The reflections on Xu Fuguan’s studies presented a haunting issue in the academic circle, that is how to surpass the views of western centralism and return to the traditional context. “Beyond the Mountain—Studies of Confucius in the UK and USA since the 70s of the 20th Century” (Issue No. 2, “Studies of Confucius” 2009) by He Tian (何恬) highlighted the basic attributes of studies of Confucius in Europe and the USA, which took western values as the basic ground in judging the thoughts of Confucius. This article also analyzed the researches made by American scholars such as H. Fingarette, B.I. Schwartz, David L. Hall, Roger T. Ames and Angus Graham since the 70s of the 20th century. The attitude of Chen Duxiu may provide some food for thoughts when we come to assess traditional Confucius thinking. “The Tensility between Tradition and the Present—On Chen Duxiu’s Criticism of Confucius Thinking” by Hu Jun (胡军) (the 4th issue of “Journal of Beijing University”) pointed out the direct object of Chen’s criticism was not Confucius, not the Confucian thinking, but all activities of restoring imperialist system under the name of Confucianism. Chen’s criticism embodied the reflection of the New Cultural Movement on Traditional Culture, which serves as a reminder to us as to how would traditional Confucian thinking could be modernized under the present circumstances. “Another Comments on Wang Anshi’s ‘Annotation of Lao Zi’” by Li Xinfu and Ji Yan (李欣复、纪燕) (2nd issue of “China’s History of Philosophy” illustrated features of Wang Anshi’s studies of Lao Zi, pointed out Wang’s one-sided opinions and deficits, and what Wang accomplished most was his annotatio0n of the first chapter and important characters and phrases of Lao Zi. “Kang Youwei’s Positioning of Zhuang Zi and Zhuang Zi in the Vision of Modern Philosophical Circle” by Wei Yixia (魏义霞) (the 3rd issue of “China’s History of Philosophy”) held that Kang’s positioning of Zhuang Zi and his expounding of Zhuang Zi’s thinking were confined by his Confucian concepts, yet, Kang’s efforts promoted the shift of Confucian studies to modern times, he played a leading role in the studying of Zhuang Zi.
The Unearthed Documentation and the Deepening of the Studies of Masters  By and Large, the unearthed bamboo slips at Guodian were most closely related to the studies of masters while the bamboo slips collected by Shanghai Museum and Qinghua University were related to studies of classics and history. As far as Guodian bamboo slips are concerned, the scholars paid a lot of attention to how they are related to the studies of Lao Zi, the relationship and the evolution between the schools of Zi Si and Mencius as one side and the studies of Confucius and Mencius as the other. One striking feature of the studies of masters in 2009 was explore the internal relations between the Guodian bamboo slips and the studies of Xun Zi, and further, to have reflected on the value and positions of the thinking of Xun Zi in both ancient thoughts and culture and contemporary restoration of traditional culture. Yan Binggang’s (颜炳罡) efforts were in such a direction, his “’Life decides Disposition’ in the Chu Bamboo slips Unearthed in Guodian and Xun Zi’s Philosophy of Characters” (1st issue of “China’s History of Philosophy”) held that “Life decides disposition” was mainly a philosophical explanation of character and disposition, and it is crucial to get a clear definition of what “disposition” is. As various proof reveals, the disposition here is not in the category of virtue or reason in the school of Zi Si and Mencius, since it is active, reversible, cultivating and growing, it is entirely compatible to Xun Zi’s concept of transformation and accumulation of good deeds. It is therefore concluded that the direct source of Xun Zi’s philosophy of character might be this document. The academic tradition of Xun Zi is a successor of Confucius and Zhong Gong (仲弓, a disciple of Confucius), so this article might have been written by Zhong Gong or his students. Li Meiyan (李美燕), a scholar in Taiwan took “emotion” in Confucian music studies as an object of study, he thought “On Music by Xun Zi”, “Record of Music in the Records of Rites” and “On Music” in “Life Decides Disposition” all agreed that music studies are an extension of “emotions”, but the latter is different from the former two in connotation and function value, the latter held that sad music is a perfect form of man’s emotions and the former aimed at educating common folks by composing joyful music for the kings (the second volume of “Journal of Studies of Masters”). The relevance between the bamboo slips of Guodian and studies of Xun Zi has become more and more a new focus in present studies of masters. There has also been some studies of unearthed documents and studies of Mo Zi. “The Clear Sight of Ghost and Deities in Volume 5 of Bamboo slips Collected by Shanghai Museum and ‘Clear Mind Ghost by Mo Zi’” by Huang Rener (黄人二) (second volume of “Journal of Studies of Masters”) made some revisions and supplemented the opinions held by the Japanese scholar Iwanami Shoten (浅野裕一) and the Chinese scholar Ding Sixin (丁四新) the ideas contained in the bamboo slips are different from those in ‘Clear Mind Ghost by Mo Zi’, under the skin of Mo Zi, the bamboo slips have the bones of Confucianism. This reveals that there were not only conflicts between followers of Mo Zi and the school of Zi Si and Mencius, but also peaceful academic exchanges.
Research Method and Self-Conscious of Standpoint   One important achievement in the studies of masters was the publication of “Annotation and Orientation—Exploring Research Method of Chinese Philosophy” by Professor Liu Xiaogan (刘笑敢) (Commercial Printing House 2009). Having reviewed the three identifications of Chinese philosophy—“academic research”, “national spirit” and “concern of life”, the author held that for Chinese philosophy to become one of the modern disciplines, it must make a distinction among the three identifications, not to down grade the academic thinking because of belief in values or national emotions, and that annotation of traditions and exploring of research method of Chinese philosophy should be based on individual cases. As far as the standpoint of Confucian studies is concerned, the author pointed out, “The more the objective, calm and penetrating pure academic studies, the more the life resources will be for the development of Confucianism, the better the elevation of one’s belief and the more the contribution to the renewal and upgrading of Confucianism. How could those who are busy with giving statements and denouncing extreme defenders make a contribution in theory to the renewal and upgrading of Confucianism? Their contribution in practice, which is done without sincerity, is also doubtful, disgusting.” The book is considered to have some enlightening significance in methodology of studying masters and indicating approaches in studying Taoism and Confucianism. In his article “The Lengthening of the Studies of Mo Zi: Commemorating the 100th Birthday of Shen Youding (沈有鼎)” (1st issue of “Zhongzhou Journal” 2009), Sun Zhongyuan (孙中原) confirmed Shen Youding’s remarkable achievement in studies of Mo Zi’s logic by borrowing Kuhn’s paradigm, Hilbert’s concept of layers in research and Fu Weixun’s viewpoint and method in creative annotations. Sun pointed out the annotation of “The Classic of Mo Zi” in China’s circle of logic studies has not gone beyond the first two stages outlined by Fu Weixun—“the actual meaning” and “the indicative meaning”. There are still much to be desired in even these two stages, not alone the other three stages, which are “the understated meaning”, “the true meaning” and “the creative meaning”, which are ideal and perfect stages in the studies of Mo Zi. These reflections on methodology are advantageous to the creativeness of the studies of masters.
Attention is still paid to the contemporary value of the studies of the masters, something new in viewpoints and ways of thinking occurred
In his “Ten Expounding of Confucianism and Five Other Articles”, Tang Yijie (), aside from stating the important concepts of Confucianism such as “Convergence of Heaven and Man”, “Convergence of Knowledge and Practice”, “Being together with difference” and “Being a King in Appearance and a Saint inside Self”, he devoted a special chapter on “the restoration of Confucianism”. He dealt with the necessities of the restoration in three layers—heaven and man, human relations and body and mind. “Confucianism and the Cultural Roots for the Two Sides of the Strait” compiled by the Taiwan Institute of Beijing Union University (Taihai Publishing House, 2009) sited specific examples of the actual function of Confucianism in cultural exchanges and consolidation of national identification of the two sides. The tapping of the resources of “public philosophy” contained in Chinese culture and Confucianism, the difference and similarity in the concept of justice, selfish and public outlook with the western thinking is something new in the discussions of Confucianism, which is closely related to modernization. “Selfish and Public Outlook in Confucianism and Ethics of Public Affairs” by Guo Qiyong and Chen Qiaojian (郭齐勇与陈乔见, 1st issue, 2009 “China’s Social Sciences”) and “Social Justice Appeal by Prior-Qin Confucianism” by Guo Qiyong (Jiefang Daily Jan. 11, 2009) pointed out there were profound resources of justice in the selfish and public outlook in the Prior-Qin Confucianism. In the duty ethics, such as devotion, loyalty, cleanness and credibility that were emphasized by Confucius, Mencius and Xun Zi, you can find seeds of distinction of post and right and obligations and mutual constraining, respect of will of the people, stress of investigation and report, distinction between official duties and responsibility for speech, all these were not only sense of public duty, but also the rudiment of separation of power. The Chinese society has long been soaked in the humanitarian values of Prior-Qin Confucianism, which has been transformed into political and legal systems constantly. These are the important resources and references of systems of China’s present day modernization. “Old Society with a New Life: The Classic Confucian Political Philosophy” by Bai Tongdong (白彤东) (Beijing University Press, 2009) tried to construct the political values of Confucianism, demonstrated in logic the thinking of Prior-Qin Confucianism is compatible with the western concept of freedom, rule by law, democracy and human rights, it also possesses something unique—it could overcome the “sixth fact” (those who fail to vote because of lack of knowledge or information) problems, which were unable to be solved by western liberalists, Confucianism is still alive in system designs. The value of Taoist concept of life is worth of probing. “The Features of Thinking of Taoist Concept of Life and Its Modern Significance” by Zhu Xiaopeng (朱晓鹏) (second volume of “Journal of Studies of Masters”) pointed out that the Taoist concept of life regards life and death as an objective and nature process, as an individual life, one should not be too joyful for being alive, and too worried of death, rather, one should face death with ease. Guo Qiyong’s “The Spirit of China’s Confucianism”, Zhan Shichuang’s (詹石窗) “The Spirit of China’s Taoism” and Hong Xiuping’s (洪修平) “The Spirit of China’s Buddhims” (all Fudan University Press 2009) all exhibited excellent ideas in probing into basic spirits of China’s Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism and in developing China’s ancient fine culture.
Progress was also made in studies of masters of military strategy and logicians   For instance “Nature of Prior Qin Masters of Military Strategies, Features of their Schools and Basic Categories” by Li Guisheng (李桂生) (second volume of “Journal of Studies of Masters”) and Huang Kejian’s (黄克剑) “Probing into Gongsun Long’s Separation of Firmness and Whiteness” (6th issue of “Philosophy Studies” 2009) were all remarkable papers.
It should be noted that a majority of papers were of little value in 2009; studies of Yin and Yang masters, of masters of political strategies were found lacking in 2009. The applicability of contemporary value of studies of masters is still a question to be answered.
We wish to expect that future studies of masters could be more penetrating, more powerful in their demonstration, more varied in form and more fruitful in achievement, so that we could contribute more to the restoration of China studies and creativeness of national culture.