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1999.04 孔子和学者们

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Confucius and the Scholars
East Asian technocrats and modernists in Beijing, among others, are eagerly embracing an updated Confucianism -- even as scholars in the West ask some eyebrow-raising questions. Did the Chinese sage really exist? If so, did he have much to do with the religious and ethical system that bears his name? Could Confucianism have been invented by Jesuit missionaries?

By Charlotte Allen
APRIL 1999 ISSUE
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Confucius today
Illustration by Joan Hall
To many educated Westerners, Confucius is the very emblem of Chinese civilization and religious belief. If the dates that historians have assigned to him—551-479 B.C.—are correct, he was a contemporary of the Greek poet Pindar, the tragedian Aeschylus, and the philosopher Heraclitus. According to tradition, Confucius was easily their equal. In addition to having written or edited parts of a diverse body of literature that includes the I Ching (Book of Changes) and the Book of Poems, classics to this day, he was a scholar, a minister of state, and an accomplished horseman and archer. Confucius is said to have taught his disciples the cultivation of personal virtue (ren, usually translated as “goodness” or “humaneness”), veneration of one’s parents, love of learning, loyalty to one’s superiors, kindness to one’s subordinates, and a high regard for all of the customs, institutions, and rituals that make for civility.

So appealing is Confucius that his Lunyu, or Analects, a collection of 497 sayings and short dialogues written down by his disciples after his death, has been translated again and again, especially during this century. Ezra Pound tried his hand at the manuscript; Arthur Waley published a famous English translation in 1938; and two years ago Simon Leys (the pen name of the Australian Sinologist Pierre Ryckmans) translated it into strikingly spare and elegant English prose. One reason Confucius has resonated with twentieth-century intellectuals is that his religiosity—or lack thereof—is remarkably congruent with our time. He appeared to encourage obedience to the will of “heaven” and reverent observance of religious rites—the ancient Chinese practice of offering sacrifices to the spirits of one’s ancestors, for example—while remaining agnostic on the question of whether a supernatural world actually exists. One of the analects declares (in Leys’s translation), “The Master never talked of: miracles; violence; disorders; spirits.” The Analects contains a version of the Golden Rule (“I would not want to do to others what I do not want them to do to me”), but Confucius’ real concern seems to have been the Golden Mean: all things in moderation, even moderation itself. According to another of the analects, “Lord Ji Wen thought thrice before acting. Hearing this, the Master said: ‘Twice is enough.’” Such anecdotes prompted the novelist Elias Canetti to observe, “The Analects of Confucius are the oldest complete intellectual and spiritual portrait of a man. It strikes one as a modern book.”


In short, ever since the Enlightenment, Confucius has been widely regarded in the West as a Chinese personification of humane, tolerant, and universal ethical principles. In his Age of Reason, Thomas Paine listed Confucius with Jesus and the Greek philosophers as the world’s great moral teachers. A figure of Confucius in flowing sleeves joins Moses, Hammurabi, and Solon among the lawgivers in the marble frieze encircling the Supreme Court’s hearing room in Washington, D.C.

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But what if this familiar image is completely untrue? The answer to this question is of more than academic significance. The portrait of Confucius as the leading Chinese sage, together with the traditional holistic and moralistic reading of the Analects that Leys’s translation exemplifies, has an important ideological constituency: intellectuals of the Chinese diaspora and their Western admirers, who have used Confucianism to assert a non-Maoist but thoroughly Chinese identity. For several decades these self-described New Confucians—a group consisting mostly of university professors—have been promoting “Confucian values” as the driving force of the non-Communist Chinese cultures of East Asia. Behind the recent economic boom in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and elsewhere, they contend, lay a “Confucian ethic” of respect for family, hard work, and the social order equivalent to the Protestant ethic that Max Weber postulated as being responsible for the rise of capitalism in Northern Europe. The New Confucians have been promoting an updated Confucianism—minus such atavistic features as the ancestor cult and an offhand attitude toward women—as the underpinnings of both the human-rights movement in China and a communitarian version of modernity that affords individual liberty without encouraging the libertine excesses that, as they see it, plague America and Europe. If the New Confucians are wrong about Confucius—if, that is, he never was the humane sage and ethicist of popular imagination, and Confucianism as commonly perceived is largely a mythical concoction—their theories and platform would suddenly rest on a shakier base.

THAT is precisely the premise of a new strain of Confucian scholarship that has stirred excitement and controversy. The scholarship takes on traditional understandings of Confucianism in two ways: by questioning its origins and by questioning its Chineseness.

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The first issue has been powerfully addressed by E. Bruce Brooks, a research professor of Chinese at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and A. Taeko Brooks, his wife and co-researcher. They argue that the “historical” Confucius, far from being a scholar, was a warrior of noble birth but slender means who had the misfortune to live at a time—toward the end of the Zhou dynasty (c. 1123-221 B.C.), which saw the collapse of feudalism and the rise of mass-conscripted armies—when his skills as a charioteer and bowman were becoming obsolete. Although he was not a teacher in any formal sense, his forceful personality attracted followers among younger warriors, the Brookses hypothesize.

The Brookses hold that only sixteen of the sayings attributed to Confucius in the Analects actually came from his mouth, and that only a few more came from his direct protégés. Today’s image of Confucius as a learned man, they maintain, did not start to emerge until after his death, when groups of his disciples organized themselves into formal schools for the purpose of perpetuating his ethos. In the Brookses’ view, Confucius, whose ipsissima verba they claim to have isolated in a portion of Chapter 4 of the Analects, probably had a bit of education as a member of the nobility, but he did not write any of the other classical texts attributed to him. The Brookses believe that those texts were not even in final form until the fourth century B.C.

Nor did Confucius concern himself with many of the values conventionally attributed to him, according to the Brookses. When he spoke of ren (or rvn, as they spell it in the idiosyncratic romanization system that Bruce Brooks invented in an attempt to transcribe Mandarin Chinese phonetically), he probably was referring not to the cultivation of moral virtue but to loyalty to one’s comrades and other traits desirable in a gentleman soldier. Only in later layers of tradition, the Brookses say, was Confucius “civilianized”—turned into a savant and high minister—and made an expounder of “the systematic structures of Imperial philosophies.” As Bruce Brooks told me recently, “His disciples and successors more or less hived off into their own movements. They all had a nominal connection with Confucius, and they were all trying to define the culture in the Warring States period”—a turbulent two centuries during which feudal lords battled one another incessantly in the absence of a strong central government. The Brookses’ arguments are laid out in their book The Original Analects: Sayings of Confucius and His Successors (1998).

The second big issue—the Chineseness of Confucianism—is the focus of Lionel M. Jensen, an associate professor of history and the director of Chinese studies at the University of Colorado at Denver. Jensen contends that there was no such thing as Confucianism until Jesuit missionaries entered China in the late sixteenth century. Until their arrival there were merely the spiritual and ethical traditions of the ru, China’s elite scholarly class, who, thanks to the off-and-on patronage of emperors over the years, enjoyed a monopoly on education and on the staffing of bureaucratic posts, by means of the civil-service examinations they administered. The ru claimed to be carrying on the tradition of Confucius, and he certainly enjoyed pride of place in their veneration as the leading propagator of ru values. However, as Jensen points out in his book Manufacturing Confucianism: Chinese Traditions and Universal Civilization (1997), the Analects was only one of several literary classics esteemed and taught by the ru (the others are attributed to Mencius and other early ru teachers). Using the model of Christian theology, which centers on the person of Jesus Christ, the Jesuits recast the ru tradition as a full-fledged religion centered on the person of its supposed founder, Confucius, who they believed had providentially stumbled across monotheism (in his references to “heaven”) and Christian morality (in his version of the Golden Rule).

Jensen says that in exalting Confucius, the Jesuits tended to ignore any Chinese philosophical writings other than the Analects, and they did not value China’s other, far more widely practiced religious traditions, including Buddhism, Taoism, and the omnipresent folk cults of gods and ghosts. The missionaries promoted their Christianized version of ru doctrine to the West when they returned home. And then, Jensen theorizes, it was only a matter of time before the Enlightenment philosophes adopted Confucius, savoring his apparent reasonableness and his skepticism about the supernatural. The philosophes in turn created and popularized the image of Confucius that persists among Westerners to this day, and in the process spread the misapprehension that Confucianism is the baseline religion of China in the way that Roman Catholicism is the baseline religion of Spain. In fact, almost no one practices Confucianism in China today, and even in premodern times only scholars, bureaucrats, and occasionally emperors followed the ru tradition. If China can be said to have a baseline religion, it is a mixture of popular Taoism and folk beliefs.

According to Jensen, the Jesuits invented the very word “Confucius,” a Latinization of Kongfuzi (“Very Reverend Master Kong”)—itself an appellation not found in ru literature (which called the sage simply Kongzi, or “Master Kong”), although it is occasionally found on the “spirit tablets” honoring him in ru temples. Jensen does not believe that Kongzi even existed. “I think he’s a literary trope,” Jensen says. “He’s a figure who came to stand for certain things.” Jensen is currently researching the possibility that Kongzi—whose birth, like that of Jesus, is the subject of many miraculous tales—had his origins as a mythological figure of ancient Chinese fertility cults.

On the surface, the theories of the Brookses and Jensen would seem contradictory, because the Brookses believe that Confucius was a real person who was born and died in the years ascribed to him. The two theories are, however, quite complementary, both contending that the Confucian tradition had no single founder but grew incrementally over many centuries, changing as cultural circumstances changed. For the Brookses, the powerful personality of a gentleman soldier lies at the bottom of the tradition, whereas Jensen sees that place occupied by a powerful mental construct.

And both theories, though iconoclastic in many particulars, have some common ground with the work of other specialists. Most Sinologists these days would agree that Confucius, if he existed at all, has left little concrete evidence of what he was like, and that the traditional biographical material associated with him is largely legend. It is also accepted academic wisdom that the Analects was put together over several generations—although few argue that it took quite the length of time the Brookses postulate. As early as the seventeenth century, for example, scholars in China began noticing that the second half of the Analects seemed stylistically and thematically different from the first half, probably reflecting influences other than Confucius’ own. “We’ve known for a long time that some of the later parts of the book are suspect,” John E. Wills Jr., a professor of Chinese history at the University of Southern California, says. “After Chapter Ten or Twelve you get a lot of fishy Taoist stuff in there.”

Last year the American Academy of Religion awarded Jensen’s Manufacturing Confucianism its prize for the best first book in religious history. And the solid scholarship evident in the Brookses’ The Original Analects (though not necessarily the book’s conclusions) has been endorsed by two of America’s leading experts on classical China, David S. Nivison, of Stanford, and Frederick W. Mote, of Princeton.

John S. Major, a Sinologist who taught for many years at Dartmouth, explains that some of the evidence that the Analects was composed over a long time takes the form of changes over the centuries in Chinese characters used to denote grammatical markers—but he takes issue with some of the Brookses’ methodology. “[Bruce Brooks] likes to assign precise dates to the Analects’ layers, and that’s where I think he’s stretching it,” Major says. “He tends to assume that the evidence we have of a certain period is all the evidence there is. For example, there’s a passage that refers to a battle, and we know that in this year there was this battle—so as far as Brooks is concerned, the passage must have been written that year. But it might have referred to a different battle that we don’t know about. He also removes passages that don’t fit his theories.” For instance, in reconstructing Chapter 4 of the Analects (the only chapter that the Brookses say contains Confucius’ own words) the Brookses have moved more than a third of the text to another section, including sayings that extol filial piety, self-control, moderation, and other virtues they believe Confucius never espoused. They contend that these sayings do not match the other material in Chapter 4 thematically. Major rejects this reasoning, arguing that the Brookses simply lopped off those portions of the chapter that do not jibe with their picture of Confucius. Such issues are likely to spark intense debate in the profession for some time to come.


Even during its heyday the ru tradition was never much practiced outside educated circles, although the ru teachings of respect for elders and education were widely disseminated at the popular level through proverbs, folk tales, and instructions for weddings and other ceremonies. When the Chinese government abolished the old civil-service examinations in 1905 and began to Westernize the education system, the ru class became obsolete, and anything resembling institutionalized Confucianism disappeared. The Nationalist revolutionaries who overthrew the imperial government in 1912 went further, equating Confucius with despotism and technological backwardness; and both Mao Zedong’s ascendancy, in 1949, and his Cultural Revolution, in 1966-1976, included a methodical attack on all remnants of classical Chinese civilization. However, as early as the 1930s, when Mao was consolidating his Red Army in northern China, some non-Marxist academics and even Nationalist politicians began to take an interest in Confucius, hoping to find a “third way” that was neither Communist nor derivative of Western thought. They were the first New Confucians, and their aim was to recast Confucius’ teachings as being fully compatible with modern technological training and liberal democracy, using the Confucian reverence for learning and the Confucian emphasis on merit rather than birth. After Mao came to power, a second generation of New Confucians fled to university positions in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Some of their students eventually emigrated to the United States and became professors themselves.

The best known of the North American New Confucians is Tu Wei-ming, a professor of Chinese history and philosophy at Harvard and the director of the prestigious Harvard-Yenching Institute. The mainland-born, Taiwan-educated Tu has made it his mission to re-Confucianize East Asia and to promulgate Confucianism as a universal religion perfectly suited to Asian modernity. Tu works in the tradition of Zhu Xi, a twelfth-century ru scholar who was heavily influenced by Buddhism. Zhu developed Kongzi’s teachings into a full-blown metaphysical system based on the cultivation of harmony between oneself and the cosmos. This system was much more like a religion than the earlier Confucian tradition had been, and it became imperial orthodoxy and later spread to Korea and Japan. “Confucianism so conceived is a way of life which demands an existential commitment on the part of Confucians no less intensive and comprehensive than that demanded of the followers of other spiritual traditions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism,” Tu wrote in 1976.

Tu’s campaign has made some inroads. During the 1980s Lee Kuan Yew, then Singapore’s Prime Minister, invited Tu and others to help set up a high school curriculum that included Confucian principles (the project fizzled amid vigorous protests from Singapore’s non-Chinese population). And post-Mao China has begun to reappropriate Confucius, hosting symposia in Beijing every five years to celebrate his birth. In the main, however, the university-based New Confucians—a new ru class, so to speak—are theologians without a flock. Even on Taiwan, where religious observance is prevalent and where a man who claims to be Confucius’ seventy-eighth lineal descendant lives, few residents identify their spiritual beliefs with the teachings of Master Kong. “Confucian values are very pervasive among the Chinese, but they’re so diffuse that people don’t recognize them as Confucian,” Hoyt Tillman, a professor of Chinese cultural history at Arizona State University, explains. “They just say, ‘That’s the way we Chinese do it.’”

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The upstart theories of the Brookses and Jensen only make the New Confucians’ re-Confucianizing project more problematic—for reasons that go beyond what they say about Confucius himself. The Brookses argue that the ru tradition, and even Chinese literary civilization, are not nearly so ancient and time-honored as is often maintained. And Jensen contends that New Confucianism is itself a largely Western product. At the turn of the century, he says, two Chinese intellectuals who were widely read in Western ideas grafted some of them onto the Chinese image of Kongzi and his legacy. Zhang Binglin used the cultural-evolutionary theories of Weber and Herbert Spencer to recast Kongzi as a secular quasi-modern, China’s first rationalizer of a superstitious indigenous tradition; Hu Shi, who had converted briefly to Christianity, interpreted him as a revolutionary like Jesus who had taken a stand against hidebound religious authority. Jensen believes that the New Confucians are following Zhang and Hu’s lead in viewing the ru tradition through the lenses of Western progressivism.

As might be expected, such views are vastly irritating to the New Confucians and other admirers of Chinese tradition. “I think that Lionel Jensen wants to be a little outrageous,” says Tu, who was among Jensen’s teachers. Wm. Theodore de Bary, a Sinologist at Columbia University who has written prolifically and sympathetically on Zhu Xi and his followers, says, “Confucianism is based on the study of Confucian texts, and the historical development of Confucianism doesn’t depend on the theories of the Jesuits or other Western writers. That mistake was precisely what I wanted to avoid when I started studying the texts, back in the 1940s. So I started reading what the Chinese—not Westerners—said about Confucianism.”

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If it turns out that Confucius never existed, or that the Analects was composed over several centuries, the faith of many New Confucians is likely to be rattled a bit but not destroyed. As they like to remind their listeners, most of them have invested not in a long-dead historical figure but in a tradition that is still alive, and in a haunting body of literature that remains susceptible of holistic reading and continues to reveal, whatever the identities and intentions of its authors, a vivid portrait of an arresting man. “It’s like Christianity—Christianity isn’t monolithic, and it has changed over the centuries to accommodate changes in society,” Robert Neville, the dean of Boston University’s school of theology, says. As Neville, a United Methodist minister and a Confucian who meets regularly with Tu and other academics in a group called the Boston Confucians, puts it, “The authority doesn’t rest with the person but with the teaching.”

Still, among younger Chinese-born scholars who have no ideological stake in Confucianism as a counterweight to Maoism, efforts like those of Jensen and the Brookses to place the reputed sage in the historical context of the culture that produced him come as a relief. “There’s a myth about Chinese culture—that it’s different from Western culture in its static nature and durability,” says Aihe Wang, an assistant professor of ancient Chinese history at Purdue University. “It’s a kind of Orientalist myth. Anything that contributes to demythifying this point of view is very healthy.”




孔子和学者们
北京的东亚技术官僚和现代主义者,以及其他一些人,正在热切地拥抱更新的儒家思想--甚至在西方的学者提出一些令人瞠目结舌的问题时。中国的圣人真的存在吗?如果是的话,他与以他名字命名的宗教和伦理体系有很大关系吗?儒家思想会不会是由耶稣会传教士发明的?

作者:夏洛特-艾伦
1999年4月号
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今天的孔子
插图:Joan Hall
对许多受过教育的西方人来说,孔子是中国文明和宗教信仰的象征。如果历史学家为他指定的日期--公元前551-479年--是正确的话,他是希腊诗人平达、悲剧家埃斯库罗斯和哲学家赫拉克利特的当代人。根据传统,孔子很容易与他们平起平坐。除了写过或编辑过包括《易经》和《诗经》在内的各种文学作品外,他还是一位学者,一位国务卿,以及一位出色的骑手和射手。据说,孔子教导他的弟子培养个人美德(仁,通常译为 "善 "或 "人性"),尊敬父母,热爱学习,忠于上级,善待下级,以及高度重视所有的习俗、制度和礼仪,这些都是文明的体现。

孔子是如此吸引人,以至于他的《论语》,即由他的弟子在他死后写下的497句话和短对话组成的文集,被反复翻译,尤其是在本世纪。埃兹拉-庞德(Ezra Pound)曾尝试翻译该手稿;阿瑟-瓦利(Arthur Waley)在1938年出版了一个著名的英译本;两年前,西蒙-莱斯(澳大利亚汉学家皮埃尔-瑞克曼斯(Pierre Ryckmans)的笔名)将其翻译成引人注目的简洁而优雅的英文散文。孔子之所以能引起20世纪知识分子的共鸣,原因之一是他的宗教性--或者说缺乏宗教性--与我们的时代惊人地一致。他似乎鼓励顺从 "天 "的旨意,虔诚地遵守宗教仪式--例如,中国古代向祖先的灵魂献祭的做法--同时对超自然世界是否真的存在的问题保持不可知论。其中一篇论语宣称(在Leys的翻译中):"大师从未谈论过:奇迹;暴力;混乱;精神"。论语》包含一个版本的黄金法则("己所不欲,勿施于人"),但孔子真正关心的似乎是中庸,即所有事情都要适度,甚至适度本身。根据另一部论语,"季文公三思而后行。大师听到后说:"两次就够了"。这样的轶事促使小说家埃利亚斯-卡内蒂(Elias Canetti)指出:"《论语》是一个人最古老的完整知识和精神肖像。它给人的印象是一本现代书"。


简而言之,自启蒙运动以来,孔子在西方被广泛认为是人性、宽容和普遍伦理原则的中国化身。在他的《理性时代》中,托马斯-潘恩将孔子与耶稣和希腊哲学家一起列为世界上伟大的道德导师。在华盛顿特区最高法院听证室周围的大理石门楣上,孔子身着飘逸的衣袖,与摩西、汉谟拉比和索隆一起成为法律家。

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但是,如果这个熟悉的形象是完全不真实的呢?这个问题的答案不仅仅具有学术意义。孔子作为中国主要圣人的形象,以及Leys的翻译所体现的对《论语》的传统整体主义和道德主义解读,有一个重要的意识形态支持者:散居海外的中国知识分子和他们的西方崇拜者,他们利用儒家思想来主张一个非毛主义但彻底的中国身份。几十年来,这些自称是新儒家的人--主要由大学教授组成的群体--一直在宣传 "儒家价值观 "是东亚非共产主义中国文化的驱动力。他们认为,在台湾、香港、新加坡和其他地方最近的经济繁荣背后,是一种尊重家庭、勤奋工作和社会秩序的 "儒家伦理",相当于马克斯-韦伯所推测的新教伦理,是资本主义在北欧崛起的原因。新儒家一直在推广一种最新的儒家思想--除去诸如祖先崇拜和对妇女的歧视的态度--作为中国人权运动和现代性的社区主义版本的基础,它提供了个人自由而不鼓励自由主义的过度行为,正如他们所认为的,这些行为困扰着美国和欧洲。如果新儒家对孔子的看法是错误的--也就是说,他从来不是大众想象中的人道圣人和伦理学家,而且通常认为的儒家思想在很大程度上是一种神话般的构思--那么他们的理论和纲领就会突然建立在一个更不稳固的基础上。

这正是引起人们兴奋和争议的儒家学术新流派的前提。这种学术研究从两个方面对儒学的传统理解进行了探讨:质疑其起源和质疑其中国性。

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第一个问题由马萨诸塞大学阿默斯特分校的中文研究教授E.Bruce Brooks和他的妻子兼共同研究者A.Taeko Brooks有力地解决了。他们认为,"历史上的 "孔子远不是一个学者,他是一个出身高贵但家境贫寒的战士,不幸生活在周朝末年(约公元前1123-221年),当时封建主义崩溃,大规模征兵兴起,他作为战车手和弓箭手的技能正在被淘汰。虽然他不是任何正式意义上的老师,但他强硬的个性吸引了年轻战士的追随者,Brookses推测。

布鲁克斯夫妇认为,《论语》中归属于孔子的说法中只有16条真正出自他的口,只有少数来自他的直接门徒。他们认为,今天孔子作为一个有学问的人的形象是在他死后才开始出现的,当时他的弟子们为了延续他的精神,把自己组织成正式学校。在布鲁克斯夫妇看来,他们声称在《论语》第四章的一部分中分离出了孔子的ipsissima verba,作为贵族成员,孔子可能接受过一些教育,但他没有写过任何其他归于他的经典文本。布鲁克斯夫妇认为,这些文本甚至在公元前四世纪才形成最终形式。

根据布鲁克斯夫妇的说法,孔子也没有关注许多传统上归属于他的价值观。当他谈到 "仁"(或 "rvn",他们用布鲁斯-布鲁克斯发明的特立独行的罗马化系统来拼写,试图用汉语拼音来转写)时,他可能不是指道德的培养,而是指对战友的忠诚和其他绅士士兵所应具备的特征。布鲁克斯说,只有在后来的几层传统中,孔子才被 "平民化"--变成了一个知识分子和高级大臣,并成为 "帝国哲学的系统结构 "的阐述者。正如布鲁斯-布鲁克斯最近告诉我的那样,"他的弟子和继任者或多或少地分化成他们自己的运动。他们都与孔子有名义上的联系,他们都试图在战国时期定义文化"--在这动荡的两个世纪里,在没有强大的中央政府的情况下,封建领主不断地相互争斗。布鲁克斯夫妇的论点在他们的《论语原文》一书中得到了阐述。孔子及其继承者的言论》(1998年)一书中阐述了他们的论点。

第二个大问题--儒家思想的中国化--是科罗拉多大学丹佛分校历史学副教授兼中国研究主任Lionel M. Jensen的重点。詹森认为,在耶稣会传教士于16世纪末进入中国之前,并不存在儒家思想。在他们到来之前,中国只有儒家的精神和伦理传统,儒家是中国的精英学者阶层,由于多年来皇帝的断断续续的赞助,他们通过自己管理的公务员考试,在教育和官僚职位的配置上享有垄断地位。鲁国人自称继承了孔子的传统,而孔子作为鲁国价值观的主要传播者,当然在他们的崇敬中享有骄傲的地位。然而,正如詹森在他的《制造儒家》一书中指出的那样。中国传统与世界文明》(1997年)一书中指出,《论语》只是儒家推崇和传授的几部文学经典之一(其他文学经典是由孟子和其他早期儒家教师所著)。耶稣会士利用以耶稣基督为中心的基督教神学模式,将儒家传统重塑为以其所谓的创始人孔子为中心的成熟宗教,他们认为孔子偶然发现了一神论(在他提到的 "天堂 "中)和基督教道德(在他的黄金规则版本中)。

詹森说,在推崇孔子的同时,耶稣会士倾向于忽视《论语》以外的任何中国哲学著作,他们也不重视中国其他更广泛的宗教传统,包括佛教、道教和无处不在的民间神鬼崇拜。传教士们回国后向西方推广他们的基督教化版本的ru教义。然后,詹森认为,启蒙运动的哲学家们采用孔子只是时间问题,他们品味着孔子表面上的合理性和对超自然的怀疑态度。哲学家们反过来创造并普及了孔子的形象,这种形象在西方人中一直持续到今天,并在这个过程中传播了一种误解,即儒家思想是中国的基本宗教,就像罗马天主教是西班牙的基本宗教一样。事实上,今天在中国几乎没有人信奉儒教,即使在前现代,也只有学者、官僚和偶尔的皇帝遵循儒教传统。如果说中国可以说有一个基本的宗教,那就是流行的道教和民间信仰的混合体。

据詹森说,耶稣会士发明了 "孔子 "这个词,它是孔夫子("非常尊敬的孔夫子")的拉丁化--孔夫子本身就是一个在儒家文献中找不到的称谓(儒家文献只称圣人为孔子,或 "孔夫子"),尽管它偶尔会出现在儒家寺庙中纪念他的 "灵牌 "上。詹森认为孔子甚至不存在。"我认为他是一个文学特例,"詹森说。"他是一个代表某些事情的人物。" 詹森目前正在研究这样一种可能性,即孔子--他的出生,就像耶稣一样,是许多神奇故事的主题--是作为中国古代生育崇拜的神话人物而起源的。

从表面上看,布鲁克斯夫妇和詹森的理论似乎是矛盾的,因为布鲁克斯夫妇认为孔子是一个真实的人,在传说中的年份出生和死亡。然而,这两种理论是相当互补的,都认为儒家传统没有单一的创始人,而是在许多世纪中逐步发展,随着文化环境的变化而变化。对布鲁克斯夫妇来说,绅士士兵的强大人格处于传统的底层,而詹森认为这个位置被一个强大的心理结构所占据。

而这两种理论,尽管在许多细节上具有偶像崇拜,但与其他专家的工作有一些共同点。如今大多数汉学家都会同意,如果孔子真的存在的话,他几乎没有留下关于他的具体证据,而且与他有关的传统传记材料在很大程度上是传说。同样被接受的学术智慧是,《论语》是经过几代人的努力才形成的--尽管很少有人认为它花了相当长的时间,就像布鲁克夫妇所假设的那样。例如,早在十七世纪,中国的学者就开始注意到《论语》的后半部分在风格和主题上似乎与前半部分不同,可能反映了孔子自己以外的影响。"南加州大学的中国历史教授小约翰-E-威尔斯说:"我们早就知道这本书的一些后期部分是可疑的。"在第十章或第十二章之后,你会发现里面有很多腥臭的道教内容。"

去年,美国宗教学院将詹森的《制造儒教》授予宗教史上最佳第一本书奖。而布鲁克斯夫妇的《论语原文》中所体现的扎实的学术研究(尽管不一定是该书的结论)得到了美国两位领先的古典中国研究专家斯坦福大学的戴维-S-尼维森和普林斯顿大学的弗雷德里克-W-莫特的认可。

曾在达特茅斯大学任教多年的汉学家约翰-S-梅杰解释说,《论语》创作时间较长的一些证据是几个世纪以来用于表示语法标记的汉字的变化,但他对布鲁克斯夫妇的一些方法提出异议。"[布鲁斯-布鲁克斯]喜欢给《论语》的层级分配精确的日期,而这正是我认为他在拉伸它的地方,"梅杰说。"他倾向于假设我们拥有的某一时期的证据就是所有的证据。例如,有一段话提到了一场战斗,我们知道在这一年发生了这场战斗,所以就布鲁克斯而言,这段话一定是在这一年写的。但它可能是指一场我们不知道的不同的战斗。他还删除了不符合其理论的段落"。例如,在重建《论语》第四章时(布鲁克斯夫妇说这是唯一包含孔子本人言论的一章),布鲁克斯夫妇将超过三分之一的文字移到了另一个章节,包括颂扬孝道、自我控制、节制和其他他们认为孔子从未支持的美德的说法。他们争辩说,这些说法在主题上与第四章的其他材料不一致。梅杰拒绝了这一推理,认为布鲁克斯夫妇只是删掉了该章中与他们的孔子形象不相符的部分。这类问题可能会在未来一段时间内引发业内的激烈辩论。


即使在全盛时期,儒家传统也从未在受过教育的圈子之外得到过多少实践,尽管儒家关于尊重长辈和教育的教义通过谚语、民间故事以及婚礼和其他仪式的说明在大众层面得到广泛传播。当中国政府在1905年废除了旧的公务员考试并开始使教育系统西化时,儒家阶级变得过时了,任何类似于制度化的儒家思想都消失了。1912年推翻帝国政府的国民党革命者更进一步,将孔子等同于专制主义和技术落后;1949年毛泽东上台,以及1966-1976年的文化大革命,都包括了对所有中国古典文明残余的有计划的攻击。然而,早在20世纪30年代,当毛泽东在中国北方巩固他的红军时,一些非马克思主义的学者,甚至国民党的政治家开始对孔子感兴趣,希望找到一种既不是共产主义也不是西方思想的衍生品的 "第三条道路"。他们是第一批新儒家,他们的目的是利用儒家对学习的崇尚和儒家对功名而非出身的强调,将孔子的教义重塑为与现代技术培训和自由民主完全兼容。毛泽东上台后,第二代新儒家逃到了台湾和香港的大学任职。他们的一些学生最终移民到了美国,并自己成为教授。

北美新儒家中最有名的是杜维明,他是哈佛大学的中国历史和哲学教授,也是著名的哈佛燕京学社的主任。这位在大陆出生、在台湾接受教育的杜维明把重新将东亚儒化作为自己的使命,并把儒家思想作为一种完全适合亚洲现代性的普世宗教加以推广。杜维明秉承了朱熹的传统,朱熹是十二世纪的儒家学者,深受佛教的影响。朱熹将孔子的学说发展成一个完整的形而上学体系,以培养自身与宇宙的和谐为基础。这一体系比早期的儒家传统更像一种宗教,它成为帝国的正统思想,后来传播到朝鲜和日本。"这样设想的儒家思想是一种生活方式,它对儒家的生存承诺的要求不亚于对其他精神传统如犹太教、基督教、伊斯兰教、佛教或印度教的追随者的要求,"杜维明在1976年写道。

杜维明的运动已经取得了一些进展。20世纪80年代,当时的新加坡总理李光耀邀请杜维明等人帮助建立一个包含儒家原则的高中课程(该项目在新加坡非华裔人口的强烈抗议下告吹)。而毛泽东之后的中国已经开始重新使用孔子,每五年在北京举办一次研讨会,以庆祝孔子的诞生。然而,总体而言,以大学为基地的新儒家--一个新的儒家阶层,可以说是没有羊群的神学家。即使在台湾,宗教活动很普遍,而且有一个自称是孔子第七十八代传人的人住在那里,也很少有居民把他们的精神信仰与孔师傅的教义联系起来。亚利桑那州立大学中国文化史教授Hoyt Tillman解释说:"儒家价值观在中国人中非常普遍,但它们是如此分散,以至于人们不承认它们是儒家的,"。"他们只是说,'我们中国人就是这样做的'。"

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Brookses和Jensen的新理论只会让新儒家的再儒化项目更有问题--原因超出了他们对孔子本身的评价。布鲁克斯认为,儒家传统,甚至是中国的文学文明,并不像人们常说的那么古老和悠久。詹森则认为,新儒家思想本身在很大程度上是西方的产物。他说,在世纪之交,两个广泛阅读西方思想的中国知识分子将其中一些思想嫁接到孔子的中国形象及其遗产上。章炳麟利用韦伯和赫伯特-斯宾塞的文化进化理论,将孔子重新塑造成一个世俗的准现代人,是中国第一个迷信的本土传统的合理化者;曾短暂皈依基督教的胡适则将他解释为一个像耶稣一样的革命者,对束缚的宗教权威采取了立场。詹森认为,新儒家正在追随张、胡的步伐,通过西方进步主义的视角来看待儒家传统。

正如可以预料的那样,这种观点极大地刺激了新儒家和其他中国传统的崇拜者。"我认为Lionel Jensen想得有点离谱,"Tu说,他是Jensen的老师之一。哥伦比亚大学的汉学家西奥多-德-巴里(Wm. Theodore de Bary)对朱熹和他的追随者写了大量同情的文章,他说:"儒家思想的基础是对儒家文本的研究,儒家思想的历史发展并不取决于耶稣会或其他西方作家的理论。这个错误正是我在1940年代开始研究这些文本时想要避免的。所以我开始阅读中国人--而不是西方人--对儒家思想的评价。"

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如果事实证明孔子从未存在过,或者《论语》是在几个世纪前创作的,许多新儒家的信仰可能会受到一些冲击,但不会被摧毁。正如他们喜欢提醒他们的听众的那样,他们中的大多数人不是投资于一个早已逝去的历史人物,而是投资于一个仍然活着的传统,投资于一个萦绕着的文学作品,这个文学作品仍然容易被整体阅读,并且继续揭示,无论其作者的身份和意图如何,一个生动的人的肖像。"波士顿大学神学院院长罗伯特-内维尔(Robert Neville)说:"这就像基督教--基督教不是铁板一块,几个世纪以来它一直在变化,以适应社会的变化。正如内维尔,一位联合卫理公会的牧师和一位儒生,他在一个名为波士顿儒生的团体中定期与屠呦呦和其他学者会面,他说:"权威并不在于个人,而在于教学。"

然而,在那些对儒家思想作为毛泽东思想的抗衡没有意识形态上的利害关系的年轻的中国出生的学者中,像詹森和布鲁克斯夫妇那样努力将这位被誉为圣人的人放在产生他的文化的历史背景中,是一种安慰。"普渡大学中国古代史助理教授王爱和说:"有一个关于中国文化的神话--它与西方文化的静态性质和耐久性不同。"这是一种东方主义的神话。任何有助于消除这种观点的东西都是非常健康的。

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