Directionality: Analects and Jung Yung
- To: NLN
Cc: WSW, Synoptic
On: Directionality Between Analects and Jung Yung
We had a question arise in the small discussion which brings up the question
of directionality judgements, whether they can be made, and if made, how
reliable they are, and if reliable, what they may mean for larger issues.
All this is fundamental to text philology in general, and as a sample of
fundamental issues, I venture to share my response outside the group as
In Jung Yung 20:9, we have:
and in Analects 16:9, we have:
The question was: which of these is later than the other, and, quote, "Can
this be demonstrated unambiguously?" I must say as usual that demonstrations
in the human sciences are not like the Pythagorean Theorem; they are most
probable conclusions from present evidence, always open to new evidence, or
to a more convincing reading of present evidence. Just like astrophysics.
With that qualification, I think that a most probable (least improbable)
result can be obtained in this case, and that the result once obtained is
useful beyond the problem which gave rise to it.
For the traditionally nurtured, the Analects reflects Confucius, and the
Jung Yung was written by Confucius's grandson and supposed linear
intellectual heir, Dz-sz. This being so, then any part of the Jung Yung must
be later than any part of the Analects (Lun Yw; LY), so the directionality
can only be
LY > JY
This is irrespective of the contents of either passage.
But it can easily be shown that the idea of Dz-sz as the lineal intellectual
heir of Confucius is chronologically untenable, so we need to go back to the
Since upon chronological scrutiny the real Dz-sz turns out to be much later
than the Dz-sz of pious traditional belief, it is all the more obvious that
JY is later than LY, and so, but now even more positively,
LY > JY,
whatever the content of the two passages.
The next problem is that it can easily be shown (to those who are accessible
to the evidence in the text, and admittedly we here come to a parting of the
ways within the Sinological field) that the Analects is not all of one date,
some of it (more precisely, LY 16-20, the part identified by Tswei Shu
centuries ago as the latest part) is even from the 03c. Then even if JY is
later than Confucius, it might still be earlier than *some parts* of LY, and
LY 16, the chapter here in question, is indeed from this latest portion of
the Analects. The question thus remains open and unsolved.
Another complication is that the JY is *also* not of one date; the
highest-numbered chapters contain clear references to the Chin
administrative system (the Chin empire dates from 0221), whereas the
lower-numbered chapters have echoes in texts from the first half of the 03c
(that is, from 0299-0250). JY 20 is not from the oldest layer of JY, nor yet
from the youngest and latest; its affinities are with texts from the middle
of the century (say 0250 plus or minus 10 years), whereas LY 16 mostly
predates 0285, and was interrupted in mid-composition precisely by an event
of 0285; the passage in question (LY 16:9) was part of the previous
material, and thus might be from any time in the vicinity of 0290 plus or
minus 5. On this clearer sense of the respective dates of the chapters in
question, we have
LY 16:9 > JY 20:9.
The Analects, in addition to its accretional structure, is known to contain
self-interpolations made at different times in order to bring a little more
retrospective homogeneity to the evolving text. The LY 6:29 reference to the
JY is precisely such a later interpolation. (Interestingly enough, the
*next* interpolation to that otherwise early = 05c chapter is 6:30, one of
several Analects formulations of the Golden Rule, this one a vertical one).
This being so, it is not out of the question that JY might also have such
interpolations. But since an interpolation cannot be earlier than the thing
into which it is interpolated, and the Jung Yung chapter in question is
already demonstrably later than LY 16, this possibility would not affect the
relative age of LY 16:9 and LY 20:9. The known complications at this point
therefore cease to impugn the solution previously reached, and we can say
with reasonable (operational) confidence that
LY 16:9 > JY 20:9.
But you never know, sometimes text relationships can be more complicated
than at first expected, and it will do no harm to look at the contents of
the two sections. They are similar in form, but drastically different in
import. LY 16:9 establishes a hierarchy of knowledge: the highest type is
innate knowledge, next is knowledge acquired by study (in this case, "study"
probably means book learning, which was not its content a century or so
previously), and next after that is study pursued under difficulty, and so
on. The JY passage recognizes three, not four, divisions, and far from
establishing or reaffirming a hierarchical order among them, it explicitly
seeks to equate them. It says that once you know something, you know it, and
all knowledge is identical. Your *route* to that knowledge does not matter.
This may remind some of the Parable of the Workers, whose analogical meaning
is, those who believed early are saved, and those who believed late are
saved, and all who are saved are saved; there is no distinction of early or
late. The Equality of all Belief in the one is matched by the Equality of
all Understanding in the other.
So there is a difference, but which way does it go? It might be thought
intrinsically likely that an obliteration of previous distinctions is more
likely than a differencing of a previous unity. Would the JY 20:9 passage
need to be the way it is, going to lengths to argue for the equality of
knowledge, without the previous differentiation of knowledge to react
against? I would say, not very likely. The argument seems to be
intrinsically reactive. Then if we had to make a decision based solely on
content, and without reference to any external facts about the respect texts
in which these passages occur, my judgement would be
LY 16:9 > JY 20:9.
One of my previous guidelines for interpolation noted that if a common
passage is well integrated in text A but not in text B, then it may be
intrusive (and thus interpolated, and thus late) within B. We do not have
that situation here. But it is still useful to see if the passage in
question has, or does not have, similar material elsewhere. In judging some
passages in Luke to be later than corresponding passages in Matthew (such as
the elaborate and reverential Annunciation to Mary, vs Matthew's much more
perfunctory and less reverential Annunciation to Joseph), it helps the
judgement, or supports it once made on other grounds, to note that the
Annunciation to Mary and in particular her response (the Magnificat)
strongly articulates the theme of the hatred of the poor for the rich, a
motif which finds wide expression in Luke (nowhere more radically than in
the uniquely Lukan Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, in which wealth
itself is a sin deserving of eternal damnation), whereas it is muted or
absent in the corresponding parts of Matthew (eg, the respective Beatitudes,
which are proletarian and gritty in Luke but spiritualized and vague in
In the present case, there are other homogenizations and equivalences in JY
20. One very striking one is the claim, in the very next sentence of JY
20:9, that "some do it spontaneously, some with a view to advantage, and
some with extreme effort, but once they have done it, their achievement is
the same." Neither motive nor method matters; the only thing that matters is
to do it, and once you have done it, it is done.
Of course the equation between doing it out of inner impulse and doing it
for reasons of advantage would be anathema to Analects readers, for whom
(see LY 4:2) only the "savvy" person (pejorative) acts out of advantage.
Here again, JY is concerned to eliminate hierarchical differences that are
established, or respected, in LY.
LY 4:2 is an actual saying of Confucius, remembered and recorded by one of
his disciples as part of the core of what later was expanded to make our
present canonical Analects. The reversal of that difference in the unifying
JY is certainly outrageous. Can there be any impudence that exceeds it?
Yes, and it comes in the next paragraph, JY 20:10, where Confucius himself
is brought on to refute himself. He is made to say this: "To love study is
to be near to wisdom; to act energetically is to be near to benevolence, to
feel shame is to be near to courage." That is, the first prompting is
equivalent to the achievement to which that prompting might eventually lead
in practice. (Or might not, as many passages in the Analects are there to
remind us). Here again is a unification which reverses the whole tone of
thought in the Analects. It rewards intention equally with achievement.
On the whole, then, it seems reasonable to say that the general thrust of JY
20:9 is consistent with other statements in that chapter, and that (1) we
have not misinterpreted the passage in question, always a good thing to
know, and that (2) the meaning of that passage is not eccentric, but
typical, in this part of JY.
It seems to follow, not only that the directionality
LY 16:9 > JY 20:9
is confirmed, but that it has a larger implication: JY at this point is
consistently seeking to reverse hierarchies and differentials that were
important to Confucius (LY 4:2) and to his Analects tradition down to the
early 03c (LY 16:9), and to establish instead a much greater equality of
knowledge and effort.
Besides the Analects, the other strong point of contact with JY in general
is with the northern Mencians (the splinter group whose text is MC 4-7), and
it would now be interesting to examine the tenor and temperature of that
relationship in more detail; it should catch JY at an earlier stage of its
growth process. That task is here deferred. I note instead some similarities
of origin: The Analects was for long the mainstream and authoritative
tradition of Confucius, but beginning in the late 04c, that tradition began
to divide itself into several independent and sometimes mutually critical
streams. The historical Mencius probably defined the first departure (in
0320, for a public career beginning in Lyang and peaking in Chi). The
splitting of the Mencian school not long after the death of Mencius is a
further event of similar type. The appearance of the Jung Yung, whose first
echoes outside itself are precisely in the earliest of the splinter Mencian
writings (MC 4), is yet another event of the same kind. The rise of Sywndz,
who never was a part of the Analects school but came to Confucianism via a
quite different route, makes a fourth stream, the most contentious of all
(he hated the Mencians, and he had no use for Dz-sz (by which he probably
meant the Analects tradition) either. Not only were these people diverging,
they were contesting the leadership among themselves. Who, in the rapidly
evolving world of the 03c, with only decades to run until the politically
unified Empire was in fact achieved, had the right to speak for Confucius
and for the tradition associated with him? That was the underlying question.
It adds about a quart of acid to the arguments over mere philosophical
principles, whose point is that they are foci of the larger political
In this larger light, the evolution of the Jung Yung from a mildly
compatible if daringly meditation-prone sect within Confucianism (early 03c)
to an openly revisionist Confucianism (mid 03c) makes approximately all the
sense in the world.
[E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst]