Robert Eno: The Confucian Creation of Heaven

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Demonstrating that the relation between practice and theory in early Confucianism is highly systematic, the author suggests that Confucianism represents a species of synthetic philosophy, distinct from the analytical traditions of the West but equally rigorous in its attempt to disclose the foundations of understanding. He illustrates how theory served as an ancillary activity, expressing ethical insights derived from the systematic structure of core ritual practice, and legitimizing those insights in terms of teleological model of their efficacy in creating a divinely ordained political utopia. The central agenda of the early Confucians is pictured as the preservation and promotion of ritual skills and the aesthetic social perspectives they generate. Metaphysical and political theory serve as practical vehicles mediating between the skill-based philosophy of the early Confucian community and the changing features of the intellectual, social, and political environments in which that community had to survive."

Transcript of Robert Eno: The Confucian Creation of Heaven

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    TheConfucianCreationofHeaven

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    SUNYSeriesinChinesePhilosophyandCultureDavidL.HallandRogerT.Ames,Editors

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    TheConfucianCreationofHeavenPhilosophyandtheDefenseofRitualMastery

    RobertEno

    StateUniversityofNewYorkPress

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    PublishedbyStateUniversityofNewYorkPress,Albany

    1990StateUniversityofNewYork

    Allrightsreserved

    PrintedintheUnitedStatesofAmerica

    Nopartofthisbookmaybeusedorreproducedinanymannerwhatsoeverwithoutwrittenpermissionexceptinthecaseofbriefquotationsembodiedincriticalarticlesandreviews.

    Forinformation,addressStateUniversityofNewYorkPress,StateUniversityPlaza,Albany,N.Y.,12246

    LibraryofCongressCataloginginPublicationDataEno,Robert,1949TheConfuciancreationofheaven:philosophyandthedefenseofritualmastery/RobertEno.p.cm.(SUNYseriesinChinesephilosophyandculture)Bibliography:p.Includesindex.ISBN0791401901.ISBN079140191X(pbk.)1.Philosophy,ConfucianChinaHistory.2.ConfucianismChinaHistory.3.HeavenConfucianismHistoryofdoctrines.4.ConfucianismChinaRitualsHistoryofdoctrines.1.Title.II.Series.B127.C65E561990181'.112dc20 8931194

    CIP

    10987654321

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    toDick,myfirstteacher

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    CONTENTS

    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi

    INTRODUCTION 1

    PARTONE:SETTINGTHERITUALSTAGE

    ChapterIPreConfucianHeaven 19

    1.TheRitualAntecedentsofRuism 19

    1.1.TheThreePillarsoftheWesternChou

    1.2.ThePatterningofChouSociety

    2.T'ienastheKing'sGod 23

    2.1.T'ienasaRoyalAdversary

    2.2.TheInjusticeofT'ien

    2.3.CreatingaNewT'ien

    ChapterIIMastersoftheDance 30

    1.TheRitualBasisofRuism 32

    1.1.RationalesforRitual

    1.2.TheDeclineofRitual

    1.3.Confucius'Career

    1.4.LegitimizingLi

    2.ThePoliticalRoleofRuism 42

    2.1.TheBifurcatedDoctrineofRuism

    2.2.TheMissingHistoryoftheRu

    2.3.TheTextualImperativeofWithdrawal

    3.TheCommunityofRu 52

    3.1.TheRuistStudyGroup

    3.2.TheRuistSyllabus

    3.3.PhilosophersandFuneralDirectors

    ChapterIIITheSageandtheSelf 64

    1.PracticalTotalism:TheRuistDoctrineofSagehood 64

    1.1.JenasaTotalism

    1.2.TheSingleThread

    1.3.TheRitualPath

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    2.SagehoodandtheSelf 69

    2.1.ThePublicSelf

    2.2.TheSocialSelf

    PARTTWO:THECONFUCIANCREATIONOFHEAVEN

    ChapterIVTwoLevelsofMeaningTheRoleofT'ienintheAnalects

    79

    1.TheNatureoftheText 80

    2.TheImplicitTheoryofT'ienintheAnalects 81

    2.1.ThePrescriptiveRoleofT'ien

    2.2.TheDescriptiveRoleofT'ien

    3.Confucius'DoctrinalSilence 94

    ChapterVTacticsofMetaphysicsTheRoleofT'ienintheMencius

    99

    1.TheNatureoftheText 99

    2.TheRoleofT'ieninMencius'PoliticalDoctrinesandCareer 101

    3.TheMencianTheoryofT'ien:HumanNatureandthepersonalDecree 106

    3.1.MenciusandLi

    3.2.TheMencianTheoryofHumanNature

    3.3.HsingandMing:TheInterfaceofthePrescriptiveandDescriptiveDimensionsofT'ien

    ChapterVIRitualasaNaturalArtTheRoleofT'ienintheHsunTzu

    131

    1.TheNatureoftheText 134

    2.TheChallengeofNaturalism 138

    2.1.LateWarringStatesNaturalism

    3.TheThematicUnityoftheHsunTzu 144

    3.1.TheWorldofThingasaTaxonomy

    3.2.TheNaturalLogicofSocialForms

    3.3.TheCardinalValuelessnessofHumanNature

    3.4.EducatingtheSage

    3.5.Man'sCosmicRole

    4.TheHsunTzu'sTheoriesofT'ien:the"TreatiseonT'ien" 154

    4.1.ThePortraitofT'ienasNonpurposiveNature

    4.2.T'ienasPrescriptivePsychology

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    4.3.FormingaTrinitywithHeavenandEarth

    4.4.T'ienasaHistoricalForce

    4.5.MiscellaneousT'iens

    CONCLUSION:SAGEHOODANDPHILOSOPHY 171

    APPENDIXA.THEORIGINSOFTHETERM"T'IEN" 181

    APPENDIXB.ATHEORYOFTHEORIGINSOFTHETERM"JU" 190

    APPENDIXC.HSUNTZU,"TREATISEONT'IEN" 198

    NOTES 205

    GLOSSARY 299

    ABBREVIATIONS 317

    BIBLIOGRAPHY 321

    INDEX 339

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    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

    LiketheearlyConfucianswhoseghostsinhabitthesepagesIfeelverykeenlythedebtIowetomyteachers.Formorethanadecade,DonaldMunroguidedmystudieswithgenerosityandgreatliberality,andIamdelightedwheneverIamidentifiedashisstudent.MyspecificfocusonearlyConfucianismreflectstheinfluenceofMr.LiuYyun,withwhomIstudiedforseveralyearsinTaiwan.Mr.Liutaughtmetoreadthetextsandtotakethemseriouslyastheartifactsofcriticaldecisionsthatpeoplehavebeenforcedtomake,ratherthanasstaticmodelsoftheoryorpuzzlesinphilology.

    SeveralpeoplewereinstrumentalinensuringthesuccessofresearchforthisbookinTaiwanandJapan.IwouldliketothankinparticularProfessorsWejenChangandTingPanghsinoftheInstituteofHistoryandPhilologyatAcademiaSinicainTaiwan,andProfessorKanayaOsamuandthemembersoftheChinesePhilosophySectionatTohoku*UniversityinSendai,Japan.PortionsoftheresearchforthisbookweresupportedthroughgrantsfromtheSocialScienceResearchCouncilandtheFulbrightFellowshipProgram,forwhichIammostgrateful.

    Anumberofscholarshavereadportionsofthisbookatvariousstagestheyhavebeengenerousintheircommentsandcorrections.IwouldliketothankIreneBloom,KennethDeWoskin,GeorgeElison,AlbertFeuerwerker,LuisGomez,A.C.Graham,ChadHansen,CharlesHucker,VirginiaKane,andJackMeiland.Ihavebenefitedgreatlyfromtheirsuggestionstheerrorsthatremainaremyown.YanShouchenghaskindlyprovidedtheelegantChinesecharactersforthisbook.AspecialdebtofthanksisduetomyformercolleagueElsieOrbforhermanyeditorialcorrections.

    Finally,IwouldliketothankCandiceandJaredandDanielforbeingapatientfamilyandmakingthisworthwhile.

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    INTRODUCTION

    ThefigureswhosewordsandactionsstandatthecenterofthisbookarethefirstConfucians,menwholivedbetweenthesixthandthirdcenturiesB.C.,famousfortheirausterehumanistethicsandpuristicpoliticalzealotry.Longaftertheirdeaths,theirmovementgrewintothedominantphilosophicalschooloftraditionalChinaaphilosophybymeansofwhichanimperialbureaucracy,withincreasinglyinfrequentinterruptions,sustaineditselfandconstrainedtheparametersofsocialactionanddialoguethroughouttwomillenniaofculturalcohesion.ThisposterityhasformedathicklensthroughwhichweseethesemenasaparticulararchetypalcompanythefirstMandarinsthefoundersofsocialorthodoxy.Greatmen,greatmodelsperhapsalittledull.

    Norisdullnesstheonlyfailingtobeseenintheirtraditionalportrait.Theshapeoftheirphilosophy,asinterpretedbygenerationsoflaterConfucians,appearstothecriticalWesterneyetobelittlebetterthanacollectionofreceiveddogmalooselylinkedbyadhocrationalizationmoreanideologythanaphilosophy.WhenJohnPassmoreremarkedthatChinesethoughtconsistedof''pronouncements"ratherthan"philosophy,"hesurelyhadclassicalConfuciansinmind(1967:217218).

    Butthesesamemenwillappeardifferentlyhere.Inourportraittheyaredressedincolorfulrobes,playingzithersorbeatingdrums,chanting,dancing,andlivingtheirlivesthroughaneccentricformofritualplayactingsuggestive,perhaps,ofnothingasmuchasPekingOpera.TheyperformedthisintricatechoreographysurroundedbythescornofasocietythatviewedthemashopelesslyoutofstepwiththetimesbutforthesefirstConfucians,theirdancewaspartofaneternalpatternitwasthetimesthatwereoutofstep.

    Austeretheirethicsmayhavebeen,buttheywerenotdull.Asforthepoliticalactivismthatsopervadesthetraditionalimageofthesemen,itwillnotbecentraltoourportrait.TousitwillappearthattheextremityofConfucianpurismperformedtheinversefunctionofisolatingtheritualcommunityofearlyConfuciansfromthepoliticalhazardsofachaoticeraandendowedastyleofsocialwithdrawalwiththeethicalstatusofconscientiousobjection.

    Forus,then,theearlyConfucianwillappearverydifferentfromhislaterdescendants(sodifferentthat,beforewehavegoneveryfar,wewillfeeltheneedtoabandontheterm"Confucian"itself,withallofitstraditional

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    associations).Acomprehensiveritualchoreographystandsatthefocusofhisportrait:hisparadigmaticroleisnottherighteouspolitician,butthemasterofdance.RitualandpoliticalfacetsofthefirstConfucianswillbesplitinanasymmetricaldisjunction,withrighteouszealotrystiflingpoliticaldeedsandfosteringincreasinglycomplexritualactivity.

    WewillillustratethestructureofthisdisjunctioninConfucianismbyexploringthecomplexwayinwhichConfuciansemployedatermderivedfrompreConfucianreligiouspractice,awordusuallyrenderedinEnglishas"Heaven."Thisterm,whichboreanunmatchedethicalauthorityintherhetoricofearlyChinesetraditions,hadbeencutfreefromitsoriginalmooringsofmeaningbyabruptsocialandintellectualchangespredatingthebirthofConfucius,changesthathadbroughtintoquestiontheadequacyoftraditionalideasaboutHeaven.TheproblematicstatusofHeavenduringthisperiodoftransitionprovidedConfucianswithanunusualdegreeoffreedomtorecreateHeavenintheimageoftheirnewphilosophy.

    AswepursueaninitialinquiryintothesenseinwhichConfuciansconceivedofHeaven,wewillseethattheycreatedaHeavenessentiallyvoidofconsistentfeatures,andsofreetoreflectthegrowingimageoftheirnewphilosophyandtheiruniquelifestyle.Everyattempttoanchorthemeaningoftheterminastaticconceptorsetofimagesfails.ThisnewConfucianHeavenwasultimatelythemovingreflectionofapatternedchoreography,elaboratedbygroupsofmastersanddisciplesincreasinglyalienatedfromasocietyindisruption.

    MostsurprisinginthispictureofearlyConfucianismisthatdespitetheintellectuallyunlikelyprojectofplacingritualpracticeatthecenterofphilosophy,earlyConfucianismappearsfromthisperspectivefullyphilosophical,possessingcoherenceandintellectualdiscipline.However,thestyleofthisphilosophyisfundamentallydifferentfromthatwehavegrowntoexpectfromtheanalyticschoolsofWesterntradition.Itwasnotanalytic,anditmadenocategoricaldistinctionbetweenthespheresoftheoryandpractice.

    Todrawaportraitthatrevealsthecoherenceandinterestofthisphilosophy,wewillfollowaninterpretiveapproachthatreflectstheConfuciannotionthatacompleteintellectualenterpriseinvolvesanessentialintegrationoftheoryandpractice.TheideasoftheearlyConfucianschoolcannotbecapturedexclusivelyintermsofconceptualarchitecture.Byexploringtheroleof