AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 592

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Session 592: Dynastic Histories I

The Three Hall System and the “Localist Turn” in the Twelfth-Century China
Yongguang Hu, James Madison University, USA

This paper examines China’s early twelfth-century Three Hall System (sanshefa), the world’s first statewide government school system. By mainly utilizing tomb inscriptions and local histories, it identifies several hundred students coming from this system and traces their life changes in the later period. It aims to investigate the possible connections between a wider educated public shaped by this new educational policy and the rise of localism in the twelfth century. It also shows that at least in some regions, this institution enlarged the size of educated elites, stimulating interests among them on the Learning of the Way and other philosophical schools. These elites gained cultural capitals from school and served as catalysts for social and intellectual changes in the Southern Song dynasty.

Impersonating a Policeman in Qing China
Mark McNicholas, Penn State Altoona, USA

“Impersonating a Policeman in Qing China” This paper explores the world of phony policemen at the height of China’s Qing period (1644-1911). While not so common as theft, homicide, and adultery, police impersonation was nonetheless a perennial feature of the Qing criminal landscape. How and why was this so, and what can it tell us about late imperial state and society? Examination of archival case records reveals criminal motives and methods, and also points to institutional and cultural spaces in which these deceptions could occur. Local policing generally operated on two legs: the neighborhood surveillance system (baojia) and the magistrate’s constables or “arresting runners” (buyi), lowly yamen runners deputed to conduct patrols and arrest criminals. A sampling from Qing archives reveals dozens of cases in which shady characters posed as constables to extort innocent victims. Comparison of motives and methods points to several factors inspiring and facilitating impersonation: First, constables were notorious for their extortionate behavior. Second, their ranks were swelled by informally recruited “assistants” who were not registered at the local yamen. Third, the basic accouterments signifying constable status were easily acquired. Fourth, many people did not seem to know that a warrant was required to make an arrest. And finally, fear of the justice system made innocent victims submit to extortion to avoid its dangers (jailing, shame, and judicial torture). Thus, the structure and nature of local government itself was conducive to imposture even at the height of Qing administrative efficiency in the eighteenth century.

The Individual in Early Chinese Cosmology
Abraham De Jesus, University of British Columbia, Canada

Early Chinese cosmology is widely interpreted as having a predominately holistic view of the world. The holistic interpretation also applies to the religious concepts of Heaven, the Way, and Nature, as well as the relation of these concepts to people. Human beings, under the holistic interpretation, are one part of a larger cosmological whole. The holistic thesis is simultaneously a theory of Chinese cosmology and an interpretive methodology for understanding Chinese philosophy, their religious thought, political organization, and social practices. Accounts of Confucianism, for example, generally describe normative social roles in terms of relationships: to family members, political authority, or Heaven. This has resulted in some scholars, for instance Roger Ames, postulating that Chinese cosmology has no counterpart to the Western notion of the ‘self’. This paper proposes to study the background ontology of the cosmology that informs Warring States philosophy and religious thought. It will examine the linguistic theories of Chad Hansen using relevant evidence from research in Cognitive Science to re-evaluate the holistic interpretation of Chinese cosmology. Hansen’s theory of Chinese linguistics is one of the more extreme applications of the holistic methodology and the relevant research is on the cognition of categories and nouns. This paper’s re-evaluation of Chinese cosmology will conclude that it is not exclusively devoted to a holistic view of the world and, in light of this new interpretation, discuss the implications for our understanding of ‘the self’ and ‘the individual’ in Chinese cosmological thought.

Su Shi’s Last Word on Immortality
Stephane Feuillas, Universite Paris Diderot, France

The aim of the paper is, through a close reading of a commentary on one text of the Zhuangzi written by Su Shi at the very end of his life, to evaluate his final word on the issue of immortal life. Well known is Su Shi’s familiarity with Daoist practices of extending one’s life. From the end of the 1070th until his death in 1101, Su Shi showed himself very curious of various so-called “techniques of the self” such as concentrative meditation, drug taking, breath’s improvement, visualization, or alchemical (especially neidan oriented) researches, but less has been said on his theoretical apprehension of immortality in itself. This philosophical approach can be found in two different texts: the first is constituted by a string of thirteen poems written after the reading of Ge hong’s Baopuzi and harmonizing the rhymes of Tao Yuanming; composed in 1096 during his exile in Huizhou, those poems develop a rich and complex idea of the Immortal, using at the very end of the series a term borrowed from the Zhuangzi, the jiren “the strange man” to describe this ideal type. In other words, the religious aspect of immortality is reinterpreted in a secular way. Essentially, immortality is characterized by a certain way to be in this world. Somehow dissatisfied with this conception, Su Shi wrote in 1101 a textual commentary (the only one he wrote through his entire life on this book) of the famous dialogue in the Zhuangzi ( XI, 3) between the Yellow Sovereign Huangdi and Master Broad-and-perfect Guangcheng zi. Later inserted in the Daoist Canon, this commentary would be read through three main lines of interpretation. First, a careful reading of the way Guangcheng zi instructs his royal student in the art of immortality leaves space for a general hermeneutics of the Zhuangzi. Second, the most striking bias of this reading is the somehow provocative statement that immortality is a basic and intrinsic quality of all sentient and living beings. This idea is expressed several times in the course of the commentary and is developed in a coherent philosophy of nature. Finally, according to Su Shi, by achieving immortality, Guangcheng zi is rejoining and discovering his “true self” (zhenwo). The study will thus focus on the new relationship between immortality and subjectivity. Although mainly philosophical, our reading will also develop certain isues related to Guangcheng zi (especially the various traditions which associate this master and the techniques of breathing) and to Quanzhen Daoism.

Zhuangzi's Teacher: A Case for Reading Zhuangzi as a Disenchanted Confucian
Jung H. Lee, Northeastern University, USA

This paper examines the intellectual roots of the “Inner Chapters” of the Zhuangzi and suggests that rather than seeing the author as a proto-Daoist or lapsed Yangist we can find textual evidence in the “Inner Chapters” for reading Zhuangzi as a disenchanted Confucian struggling to distance himself from the influence of the “Master.” Beyond explicit passages in Chapter 4 (人間世) where the author endorses some of the core values of Confucianism- viz. filial piety and duties to the state, the author, in what has been read as putative criticisms of Confucius, seems much more conflicted about the value of the Master’s teachings. Rather than reading the passages invoking Confucius as straight forward dismissals of Confucian values, this paper will suggest that there seems to be an anxiety of influence that informs the author’s views, particularly in the passages where Confucius assumes the role of Daoist spokesperson, and that it may be helpful to view Zhuangzi’s relationship with Confucianism as a productive one rather than being strictly agonistic. Bringing into relief the often ambiguous and complicated relationship that Zhuangzi had with Confucianism should also help us steer clear of simplistic dichotomies of Daoism and Confucianism that have tended to color how we view the intellectual landscape of Warring States China.

On the Ito Jinsai's Research for Public Theory through the reorganization of Confucianism in Tokugawa Japan
Hee-Tak Koh, Yonsei University, South Korea

This proposal is to pay attention to the Ito Jinsai's proposition "the way of public in the world" and consider the contemporary significance included in his orthodox Neo-Confucianism criticism and reorganization of Confucianism composition by "the study of the Classics". For this, first, this explains the meaning of "the way of public in the world", especially focusing the intention to try to combine 'publicity' which means 'something public' with the adverb phrase of the meaning of 'with everyone'. Second, this explains why his orthodox Neo-Confucianism criticism is concentrated on the problem of its adherence of "reason" which brings a rigorism and the rediscovery of the idealism of "Meng-zi" for the justice theory beyond the elitism. Third, this analyzes the meaning of his reorganization of Confucianism by "the study of the Classics" which try to re-fix that politics is prescribed as a artificial activity for public welfare by the emphasis of "the way of the King" and even so why his idea is not anything to result in political reformation theory. In conclusion, this paper insists his idea indicated an epitome of the search for public theory which is connected something local with something universal putting a root in the living world in Tokugawa Japan.