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The Diversity of Eastern Zhou Views on Deities and The Divine Insight of Spirits and Gods

  • Zhongjiang Wang

Abstract

Compared to the long arguments that the Mozi 《墨子》 presents concerning absolute faith in the gods in its “Shedding Light on Spirits” 《明鬼》 chapter, the discussion in the Shanghai Museum’s The Divine Insight of Spirits and Gods 《鬼神之明》 Guishen zhi ming on whether or not spirits and gods are insightful and powerful seems quite brief. 1 Nonetheless, this newly excavated text reveals an unusual conception of the divine that diverges from those of both Mozi and Confucius. This perspective affirms the existence of spirits and gods, while simultaneously asserting that these beings are inconsistent when bestowing rewards and punishments. This adds an extra layer of doubt to the Mohist and Confucian belief that spirits reliably “bless the good and curse the evil,” instead presenting what we might call an ambiguous view of spirits and gods. The discovery of this text thus add a fresh layer of color to the Eastern Zhou masters’ conceptions of spirits, expanding our understanding of the diversity and plurality of the religious beliefs in that period. In particular, it reveals the nuance of the complex religious transformations that occurred between the “Three Dynasties” and the Eastern Zhou. Here, we intend to focus on the unique vision of the divine in The Divine Insight of Spirits and Gods and its position in the religious world of the Eastern Zhou.

Keywords

Ritual Propriety Shang Dynasty Fair Interaction Feudal Lord Intellectual Strength 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    As another explanation of “spirits,” the Mohist Zi Chan 子產 explains in the Zuozhuan that Boyou 伯有 became a spirit because of his violent death. See Mozi jiangu, 249; Yang Bojun 杨伯峻, Chunqiu zuozhuan zhu 春秋左传注 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1981), 1291–1293.Google Scholar
  2. 14.
    For more on the religious beliefs and religious life of the Three Dynasties, see Yu Dunkang 余敦康, Zongjiao • zhexue • lunli 宗教 • 哲 学 • 伦理 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 2005)Google Scholar
  3. Chen Lai 陈来, Gudai zongjiao yu lunli—Rujia sixiang de genyuan 古代宗 教与伦理──儒家思想的根源 (Beijing: Sanlian shudian, 1996).Google Scholar
  4. 69.
    Cao Jinyan 曹锦炎, “Guishen zhi ming” 鬼神之明 in Shanghai Bowuguan cang Zhanguo Chu zhushu (wu) 上海博物馆藏战国楚 竹书 (五), ed. Ma Chengyuan (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2005), 307–308.Google Scholar
  5. 71.
    Ding Sixin 丁四新, “Lun Chujian Guishen pian de guishenguan ji qi xuepai guishu” 论楚简《鬼神》篇的鬼神观及其学派归属, in Guo Qiyong 郭齐勇 ed. Rujia Wenhua yanjiu 儒家文化研究 1 (2007): 400–408.Google Scholar

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  • Zhongjiang Wang

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