and Culture Review
VOLUME 8 ·Number ·September 2021
·Creative Evolution and Development of Chinese Culture·
Transforming and Boosting Traditional Chinese Culture in a Creative Way 4
The Fundamental Policy of Preserving and Developing Excellent Traditional Chinese Culture in the New Era 10
How to Improve the Understanding and Interpretation of the Confucian Classics 17
·SPECIAL THEME: Classical Aesthetics of China·
An Overview of Contemporary Aesthetic Studies on Song–Ming Lixue 24
Leopard Change: The Evolution of the Junzi Personality Aesthetic from the Han to the Northen and Southern Dynasties 40
The Possibility and Method of Implanting Aesthetic Autonomy into Confucian Aesthetics: The Case of Helian Bobo 51
One Thread of Sima Guang’s Aesthetics of Ritual and Music: On Sacred Time, the Temporal System of Ritual Customs, and the Appropriate Time and Frequency of Ritual and Musical Activities 63
Reexamining the Classification of The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons in Terms of the Traditional Learning–Knowledge Categorization 75
Su Shi’s Lifetime Merits and Writings in Adversity: On the Cause of Su Shi’s Poetic Resonance with Tao Yuanming and His Late-Year State of Mind 87
Confucius, Mencius, and Xunzi on Yu: Differential Confucian Theories of Yu in Light of the Desire Theory in Contemporary Western Ethics 96
On the Political Characteristics of the Neo-Confucian Party in the Southern Song Dynasty 107
On the Creative Evolution and Development of Chinese Culture
Editor’s note: In his “Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the International Conference Commemorating the 2565th Anniversary of Confucius’s Birth and the Fifth Congress of the International Confucian Association” in September 2014, President Xi Jinping proposed to “promote the creative evolution and development of fine traditional Chinese culture,” and has reiterated the proposal several times since then. The “Two Creatives” were also officially included in the political report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and other major documents. In May 2021 when Xi wrote back to the entire editorial staff of the Journal of Literature, History and Philosophy, he put forward that “philosophers and social scientists should work together to promote the creative evolution and development of fine traditional Chinese culture in the current context.” The “Two Creatives” policy is fundamental for the preservation and development of traditional Chinese culture in the new era. Then how should the Chinese people understand the relevance of the “Two Creatives” to contemporary China? How should they answer the question of our times on how to treat traditional Chinese culture? How should they integrate Marxism with Chinese cultural traditions? And how should they draw upon and carry forward the ideas and guiding principles of Confucianism? To this end, Confucian Academy launched a column on the “Two Creatives” in this new issue. We solicited contributions from three well-known scholars on the orientation of “Two Creatives” in the new era. For the benefit of our readers, we are now pleased to publish their discussions in writing.
Keywords: new era, traditional Chinese culture, “Two Creatives,” Confucianism
Transforming and Boosting Traditional Chinese Culture in a Creative Way
Translated by Tong XiaohuaT
The Fundamental Policy of Preserving and Developing Excellent Traditional Chinese Culture in the New Era
Translated by Tong XiaohuaT
How to Improve the Understanding and Interpretation of the Confucian Classics
Translated by Hou Jian
An Overview of Contemporary Aesthetic Studies on Song–Ming Lixue
Abstract: Neo-Confucian thought in the Song and Ming dynasties was the dominant philosophy and ideological trend in the late period of China’s feudal society. Its aesthetic implications have long been ignored or even negated. In the new age, growing attention is gradually being paid to the aesthetics of Song–Ming Lixue, from individual thinkers to major schools, from categories to propositions, and from its aesthetic connotations to its influence. These studies chiefly explore the aesthetic import of Neo-Confucian categories, the aesthetic thought of the major schools and their leading exponents, and the theoretical character of the aesthetics of Song–Ming Lixue. Although these studies are far from thorough and systematic, leaving much room for improvement, they have important theoretical value and practical significance.
Keywords: Song–Ming Lixue, Neo-Confucianism, aesthetic thinking, aesthetic history, overview
Translated by Hou Jian
Leopard Change: The Evolution of the Junzi Personality Aesthetic from the Han to the Northern and Southern Dynasties
Abstract: The junzi personality is an aesthetic exemplar of traditional Chinese culture, especially the Confucian culture, and the discrimination between the junzi and petty person is a persisting topic. The Book of Changes concludes that “whereas the noble man (junzi) would change like the leopard changes its spots, the petty man should radically change his countenance.” In the historical period spanning from the pre-Qin period, through the Han, Wei, Jin, down to the Northern and Southern dynasties, the personality of junzi has undergone certain changes, where this originally Confucian paradigm merged into Lao–Zhuang Daoism and the Dark Learning, and finally sent its repercussions as far as literary aesthetics, as illustrated in the work of literary theory, the Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons.
Keywords: aesthetic of personality, junzi personality, leopard change, literary criticism
Translated by Liu HuawenT
The Possibility and Method of Implanting Aesthetic Autonomy into Confucian Aesthetics: The Case of Helian Bobo
Abstract: Chinese Confucian aesthetics takes aesthetic moralism as its priority, and yet it also presupposes aesthetic autonomy. The ancients applied a double standard to evaluate the tyrant Helian Bobo, from both the aesthetic and moral perspectives, revealing a possibility that aesthetic pleasure is independent of moral feeling. Modern Chinese scholars have been theoretically aware of aesthetic autonomy but they refuse to accept it in practice. This paper attempts to start from the “music of the rain altar” and the “realm of refreshing breeze and the bright moon” to implant aesthetic autonomy into Confucian aesthetics in order to gain independence and dignity of aesthetic perception and arts in Chinese culture and therefore be free from the traditions of aesthetic moralism and artistic utilitarianism.
Keywords: Helian Bobo, Confucian aesthetics, aesthetic autonomy
Translated by Zhu YuanT
One Thread of Sima Guang’s Aesthetics of Ritual and Music: On Sacred Time, the Temporal System of Ritual Customs, and the Appropriate Time and Frequency of Ritual and Musical Activities
Abstract: Sima Guang’s aesthetics of ritual and music was centered on creating and maintaining the system of ritual and music at the state level. He expounded on how to customize the state system of ritual and music in a top-down manner, so as to bring about changes in social customs, and how to ensure ritual and musical activities be carried out at the appropriate time. First, in order to cope with the drastic unfairness and class difference in the distribution of aesthetic perception and wealth as well as the crisis in filiality and thus also in loyalty caused by the broken ties of blood relations, Sima spared no effort to embellish and deify the Heavenly mandate of the sovereign in the state system, to endow the sovereign with an absolute and atemporal form of supreme authority. By making time divine and sacred, he hoped to consolidate the temporal system of ritual and music. Second, aiming to develop the system of ritual and music into a form of autonomy and habituation among the ordinary people, Sima tried to change social customs and morals by virtue of the authoritative state system of ritual and music centralized on the sovereign and placing an emphasis on ritual propriety and music in the selection of imperial officials. Third, in Sima’s aesthetics of ritual and music, when zhonghe (appropriateness and harmony) was concerned, zhong referred to the appropriate time in relation to the ritual life of the community, in other words, that a community sharing a common ritual life could act and stop at the appropriate time while its members could communicate smoothly, while he meant both or many sides synchronically recognizing and performing their differences. As for the concept of zhongyong (appropriateness and constancy), yong denoted the temporal frequency of appropriate ritual life, such that if ritual life was performed appropriately, it would have a quality of constancy and high frequency.
Keywords: Sima Guang, aesthetics of ritual and music, sacred time, temporal system of ritual customs, appropriate time of zhonghe, temporal frequency of zhongyong
Translated by Wang LumanT and Chi ZhenTT
Reexamining the Classification of The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons in Terms of the Traditional Learning–Knowledge Categorization
Abstract: In traditional book catalogues, it poses no great problem to classify The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons as a work of literary criticism under the literature category. From the perspective of traditional learning–knowledge categorization, however, it can also be regarded as a piece of writing modeled on the Confucian classics. If we approach the study of the classics as an extension to that of masters and philosophers, then The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons falls under the new category of masters, compiled from the Wei–Jin period onward that approach the Way and manifest his will, make an eclectic study of various texts, and offer literary theory and some metaphysical ideas. This paper is a reflective examination on the four-category bibliographic system (namely, categories of Confucian classics, history, masters, and literature) by the Catalogue of the Complete Library in Four Categories of Literature, not so much to overturn its principles of division, but to rediscover the internal creativity in the traditional study of Confucian classics and to offer a remedy to overly rigid impressions of the Chinese classics.
Keywords: The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons, Catalogue of the Complete Library in Four Categories of Literature, learning–knowledge, study of Confucian classics, study of masters and philosophers
Translated by Wang KeyouT
Su Shi’s Lifetime Merits and Writings in Adversity: On the Cause of Su Shi’s Poetic Resonance with Tao Yuanming and His Late-Year State of Mind
Abstract: This paper examines Su Shi’s “Self-Inscription of the Portrait in Jinshan Temple,” his three texts on the Confucian classics, his poems in resonance with Tao Yuanming, as well as his state of mind in later years. After being banished from the court, Su Shi’s writings in adversity were mainly about the Confucian classics and literary creation, intended to pay tribute to sages and worthies, fashion his personality, overcome his misfortunes, and transcend the political system, ultimately aiming at self-redemption and the completion of his own literary style and personality. Su venerated two persons in his life: Confucius and Tao Yuanming. His three texts on the Confucian classics were composed in deference to the sage Confucius, and he spent nearly ten years composing more than a hundred poems in resonance with Tao Yuanming, intending to emulate Tao, a worthy man. In this sense, Su Shi’s lifetime merits were focused on personality. His detachment from and defiance of worldly fame and political honor reflects the sagely commitments that cohered throughout his life. Especially when negotiating his way through the late-year adversities, he consciously isolated himself from the powerful political forces. Otherwise, he subscribed to the Confucian orthodoxy, that is, a path from outer kingliness to inner sageliness. Su Shi’s behavior in his last days shows that, despite being well-versed in Buddhism and Daoism, he grounded his ideas and personality securely in the Confucian sagely Way.
Keywords: Su Shi, writing in adversity, life-time merits, poems in resonance with Tao Yuanming, late-year state of mind
Translated by Liu HuawenT
Confucius, Mencius, and Xunzi on Yu: Differential Confucian Theories of Yu
in Light of the Desire Theory in
Contemporary Western Ethics
Abstract: In the terms of Western categorizations of desire, Confucius’s theory of yu (desire) accounts for both its subjective and objective, constituting an integral structure of “desiring benevolence and attaining it,” without a clear choice between good and evil. Mencius’s theory of yu, stressing “completing the mind to know one’s nature,” is more inclined toward the objective implications of desire. It concerns motivated desire and aims to provide reason for moral actions toward goodness. Xunzi argues that “human nature can be improved through such moral means as ritual,” and his theory basically focuses on subjective and unmotivated desires. Though common human desires are associated with evil, people can be enculturated to good effect by external transformation through ritual and the mind’s faculty of inclining to goodness. From these different theories there emerge two tendencies: Mencius’s top-down model of “good mind—good nature—good emotions,” and Xunzi’s bottom-up model of “evil emotions—evil nature—good mind.” Early Confucian theories of yu reflect a Chinese “emotion–reason structure,” which trascends the dichotomy of subjective and objective desires and resolves the contradiction between emotionalism and rationalism as well, thus making it possible to return to roots and open a new, integrated approach to such fundamental issues as desire.
Keywords: yu, desire benevolence and attain it, who commands desire is good, human desire shared by all alike
Translated by Wang XiaonongT
On the Political Characteristics of the Neo-Confucian Party in the Southern Song Dynasty
Abstract: Neo-Confucianism flourished during the Qiandao and Chunxi periods of Emperor Xiaozong of the Southern Song. In the long process of intellectual exchanges and discussions with other academic schools and their struggles against sycophantic officials, the Neo-Confucian scholar-officials and their like-minded friends formed a party. The Neo-Confucian party represents the peak of the Song scholar-official group, which is not a clique in the traditional sense but possesses the characteristics of a political party. These characteristics are manifested in their common political platform, distinct collectivization, particular organization, and goal of taking power. Due to these political characteristics, the development of the party threatened the imperial power, and thus was put down by the non-Neo-Confucian party, resulting in a ban on the Neo-Confucian party during the Qingyuan period.
Keywords: Neo-Confucian party, clique, political party, characteristics, Zhu Xi, Qingyuan ban on the Neo-Confucian party
Translated by Zhu YuanT