Advertisement

Zhu Xi’s Hermeneutics

  • On-cho NgEmail author
Chapter
  • 32 Downloads
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 13)

Abstract

Penning an essay on Zhu Xi’s thoughts in terms of hermeneutics implies a comparative agenda and perspective. While constructing the rationale and practice of Zhu’s exegesis of the classics by appealing to Western philosophies of reading, touching on such hermeneutic issues as original meaning, contemporary appropriation, authorial intent, and readerly contingency, I hope to throw into relief the cross-cultural consonance and dissonance discernible in the acts of interpretation. The aim is to shed some light on the attendant counterpoint engendered by divergent cultural assumptions, contrasting religio-philosophical values, varying epistemological stances, and different ontological conceptions of canonicity, authorship, and readership. To address comparatively reading matters East and West via Zhu Xi’s commentarial efforts, and to claim that reading is a universal imperative, is to posit that between commensurability and contravention, common paths of reading toward a deeper understanding of our diverse textual testaments may be paved. At the same time, I affirm the deeply ingrained contextual variances that inform our very own presentist hermeneutics of the projects of reading and interpreting. In studying Zhu’s readings of the Chinese classic, I am entering, as it were, an interpretive war zone between empirically recovering what he says and theoretically creating from it a twenty-first century account of his hermeneutic moves. The zone begins with the comparative and Confucian contexts in which we may properly locate Zhu’s exegetical endeavor and lucubration, followed by the lineaments of his hermeneutics as regards fundamental assumptions, strategies, and processes, while offering a few examples of his exegesis as illustrations. In the end, I argue that Zhu sees the reading of the classics as a charismatic and religious act, wherein the reader penetrates the minds of their sagely authors, thereby apprehending the universal truths vouchsafed by them. It is charismatic because the sagacious reader is endowed with the special gift to divine the minds of the sages; it is religious because the act of reading is entirely and ultimately committed to apprehending eternal truths that transcend the confines of time and space.

References

  1. Adler, Joseph A. 2014. Reconstructing the Confucian Dao: Zhu Xi’s Appropriation of Zhou Dunyi. Albany: State University of New York Press. (A meticulously researched study of Zhu Xi’s thoughts in terms of its relations to Zhou Dunyi’s teachings.)Google Scholar
  2. Cai, Fanglu 蔡方鹿. 1996. A History of the Development of the Chinese Thought on the Lineage of the Way 中華道統思想發展史. Taipei 臺北: Zhonghua daotong chubanshe 中華道統出版社. (A thorough exploration of Zhu Xi’s construction of a lineage of the Confucian Way.)Google Scholar
  3. ——— 蔡方鹿. 2004. Zhu Xi’s Classical Learning and the Study of the Classics in China 朱熹經學與中國經學. Beijing 北京: Renmin chubanshe 人民出版社. (A wide-ranging examination of Zhu Xi’s exegetical commentaries on the classics.)Google Scholar
  4. Chen, Xunwu. 2000. “A Hermeneutical Reading of Confucianism.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 27.1: 101–115. (A comparative contemplation on the nature of interpretation in Confucian terms.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen, Liangwu 陳良武. 2007. “The Way of the Zhongyong and Classical Exegesis: A Brief Examination of Zhu Xi’s Hermeneutic Thoughts Regarding Classical Exegesis.” 中庸之道與經典詮釋——朱熹經典詮釋思想述略. Journal of Daqing Normal University 大慶師範學院學報 27.6 (December 2007): 86–89. (A focused look at Zhu Xi’s interpretation of the Zhongyong in terms of his general exegetical stances.)Google Scholar
  6. Cheng, Chung-ying. 2003. “Inquiring into the Primary Model: Yijing and the Onto-hermeneutical Tradition.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 30: 289–312. (A reinterpretation of classical Confucian reading of the classics based on the original insights offered by the Yijing.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coetzee, J. M. 2001. “What Is a Classic?” In Stranger Shores. New York: Viking Penguin. (A general pondering of the nature of the sense of the classical.)Google Scholar
  8. Dai, Lianbian. 2016. “From Philology to Philosophy: Zhu Xi as Reader-Annotator.” In Anthony Grafton and Glenn W. Most, eds., Canonical Texts and Scholarly Practices: A Global Comparative Approach, 136–163. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (A technical analysis of the hermeneutic strategies and methods employed by Zhu Xi in his classical commentaries.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gadamer, Hans-Georg. 1976. Philosophical Hermeneutics, translated by David Linge. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Anthology of essays by Gadamer.)Google Scholar
  10. ———. 1994. Truth and Method, translated by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald Marshall. New York: Continuum. (Classic work by Gadamer that sums up his philosophy of interpretation.)Google Scholar
  11. ———. 2001. Reason in the Age of Science, translated by Frederick Lawrence. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (Anthology of essays by Gadamer, focusing on the importance of extra-scientific rationality.)Google Scholar
  12. Gardner, Daniel K. 1983. “Chu Hsi’s Reading of the Ta-hsueh: A Neo-Confucian’s Quest for Truth.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 10.3: 183–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. ———. 1986. Chu Hsi and the Ta-hsueh. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center. (A thorough study of Zhu Xi’s commentarial work on the Daxue.)Google Scholar
  14. ———. 1990. Learning to Be a Sage. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Selective translations, with commentaries, of passages from the Zhuzi yu lei.)Google Scholar
  15. ———. 1991. “Modes of Thinking and Modes of Discourse in the Sung: Some Thoughts on the Yü-lu (‘Recorded Conversations’) Texts.” Journal of Asian Studies 50.3: 574–603. (An interpretation of the genre of yulu as an exemplification of the readerly ability to penetrate the minds of the sagely authors of the classics.)Google Scholar
  16. ———. 1998. “Confucian Commentary and Chinese Intellectual History.” Journal of Asian Studies 57.2: 397–422. (A study of the nature of the Confucian classical commentaries.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gu, Ming Dong. 2005. Chinese Theories of Reading and Writing: A Route to Hermeneutics and Open Poetics. Albany: State University of New York Press. (A broad-based conceptualization of the methods of interpretation, with a focus on literary criticism.)Google Scholar
  18. Hansen, Chad. 1995. “Qing (Emotions) in Pre-Buddhist Chinese Thought.” In Joel Marks and Roger T. Ames, eds., Emotions in Asian Thought: A Dialogue in Comparative Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  19. Herman, Jonathan R. 2001. “Human Heart, Heavenly Heart: Mystical Dimensions of Chu Hsi’s Neo-Confucianism.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 69.1: 103–128. (A study of Zhu Xi’s hermeneutics from a religious point of view, with special reference to his sense of mystique, understood as the oneness of the knower and the known.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Karlgren, Bernhard. 1964. Grammata Serica Recensa. Stockholm: Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities.Google Scholar
  21. Kasulis, Thomas. 1992. “Philosophy as Metapraxis.” In Discourse and Practice, edited by Frank Reynolds and David Tracy. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kermode, Frank. 1979. The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (A classic study on biblical hermeneutics in terms of literary criticism.)Google Scholar
  23. Lao, Yueqiang 勞悅強. 2017. “To Verify the Inner with the Outer: Qi Diaokai and Master Zhu’s Moral hermeneutics.” 以表證里——漆雕開與朱子的道德詮釋學. The Journal of Chinese Philosophy and Culture 中國哲學與文化 14 (September 2017): 1–29. (A study showing how Zhu Xi invests his moral-ethical ideas in his commentary on a chapter of the Analects.)Google Scholar
  24. Lee, Kwai Sang. 2015. “Inborn Knowledge (Shengzhi) and Expressions of Modesty (Qianci) on Zhu Xi’s Sacred Image of Confucius and His Hermeneutical Strategies.” Monumenta Serica. Journal of Oriental Studies 63.1: 79–108. (An examination of Zhu Xi’s notion of sagehood as innate knowledge of the truths encased in the classics.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Levey, Matthew Arnold. 2000. “Chu Hsi Reading the Classics: Reading to Taste the Tao—‘This Is a Pipe,’ After All.” In Ching-I Tu, ed., Classics and Interpretations: The Hermeneutic Traditions in Chinese Culture. New York: Routledge. (An interpretation of Zhu Xi’s hermeneutics with comparisons to Foucault’s theory.)Google Scholar
  26. Lin, Weijie 林維杰. 2008. Zhu Xi and Classical Exegesis 朱熹與經典詮釋. Taipei 臺北: Taida chuban zhongxin 臺大出版中心. (A general and comprehensive study of Zhu Xi’s classical commentaries, with some reference to western hermeneutic theories.)Google Scholar
  27. Liu, Shu-hsien. 2001. “Philosophical Analysis and Hermeneutics: Reflections on Methodology via an Examination of the Evolution of My Understanding of Chinese Philosophy.” In Bo Mou, ed., Two Roads to Wisdom?: Chinese and Analytic Philosophical Traditions. Chicago: Open Court. (A study of the ways in which philosophical ruminations are ensconced in commentarial endeavors.)Google Scholar
  28. Makeham, John. 2004. Transmitters and Creators: Chinese Commentators and Commentaries on the Analects. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center. (A comprehensive look at the commentaries on the Analects in traditional China, with a special focus on the Song period.)Google Scholar
  29. Mazlish, Bruce. 1998. The Uncertain Sciences. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Ng, On-cho. 2003. “Chinese Philosophy, Hermeneutics, and Onto-Hermeneutics.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 30.3 & 4: 373–85. (A general contemplation on the relations between Western hermeneutic theories and Cheng Chung-ying’s onto-hermeneutic philosophy.)Google Scholar
  31. Qian, Mu 錢穆. 1986. New Intellectual Record of Master Zhu 朱子新學案. Chengdu 成都: Bashu shushe 巴蜀書社.Google Scholar
  32. Ricoeur, Paul. 1981. Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences: Essays on Language, Action, and Interpretation, edited and translated by John B. Thompson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Taylor, Rodney. 1990. The Religious Dimensions of Confucianism. Albany: State University of New York Press. (An anthology of the author’s essays that focus on Confucian religiosity.)Google Scholar
  34. Tillman, Hoyt C. 1992. Confucian Discourse and Chu Hsi’s Ascendancy. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. (A study of the development of Zhu Xi’s teachings and influences by locating it in the wider intellectual and political contexts.)Google Scholar
  35. Wachterhauser, Brice. 1994. “Introduction.” In Brice R. Wachterhauser, ed., Hermeneutics and Truth. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Wang, Maohong 王懋竑. 1982. A Biographical Annals of Master Zhu 朱子年譜. Taipei 臺北: Shangwu yinshuguan 商務印書館.Google Scholar
  37. Weinsheimer, Joel. 1985. Gadamer’s Hermeneutics: A Reading of Truth and Method. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Wilson, Thomas A. 1995. Genealogy of the Way: The Construction and Uses of the Confucian Tradition in Late Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Wu, Jianliang 吳展良. 2004. “The Sages’ Writings and the Universality of Heavenly Principle: On the Premise and Assumptions of Zhu Xi’s Classical Exegesis 聖人之書與天理的普遍性:論朱子的經典詮釋之前提假設.” Historical Inquiry 臺大歷史學報 33: 71–95. (An interpretation of the ontological basis of Zhu Xi’s commentarial endeavors.)Google Scholar
  40. Yü, Ying-shih. 2016. “Clio’s New Cultural Turn and the Rediscovery of Tradition in Asia.” In Chinese History and Culture, vol. 2: Seventeenth Century Through Twentieth Century. New York: Columbia University Press. (The essay contains arguments about the nature of Confucian classical commentaries.)Google Scholar
  41. Zhu, Xi 朱熹. 1970. Classified Sayings of Master Zhu 朱子語類. Taipei 臺北: Zhengzhong shuju 正中書局.Google Scholar
  42. ——— 朱熹. 1983. Anthologized Annotations of the Verses and Sentences of the Four Books 四書章句集注. Beijing 北京: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局.Google Scholar
  43. ——— 朱熹. 1986. Classified Sayings of Master Zhu 朱子語類. Beijing 北京: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局.Google Scholar
  44. ——— 朱熹. 2000. An Anthology of Master Zhu’s Writings 朱子文集. Taipei 臺北: Defu wenjiao jijinhui 德富文教基金會.Google Scholar
  45. ——— 朱熹. 2010. Answering Queries About the Four Books 四書或問. In Complete Works of Master Zhu 朱子全書. Shanghai 上海: Shanghai guji chubanshe 上海古籍出版社.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Asian StudiesPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations