Activating and Enriching Confucianism:The Significant Value of Eight-part Essays in the Ming Dynasty
【中文摘要】明代八股文在三个问题上对儒家经典卓有见地而又别具风采地阐发:《论语•阳货》“唯女子与小人为难养也”系以诸侯、卿、大夫等“人主”为谈话对象，“女子与小人”不是泛指所有的女性和“小人”，而是特指为“人主”所宠幸的身边人。《论语•宪问》所说管仲“仁者之功”，是在华夷之辨的语境中，表达了对民族存亡的关切，尤为强调管仲为保存和发展华夏文化所做的伟大贡献。《孟子•告子下》辨“礼与色孰重”，重在价值选择、气节操守等大节，并不看重那些细枝末节。上述例证表明：明代八股文以其独特的文本形态激活和丰富了儒学传统，八股文应成为中国思想史研究的一个重要对象。 【Abstract】This paper analyzes numerous eight-part essays written in the Ming Dynasty and discovers that they offer insightful and ingenious interpretations of three questions about Confucian classics. The Analects of Confucius • Yanghuo says that “of all people, only women and servants are the most difficult to deal with.” This study argues that this sentence was said to monarchs such as princes, ministers, and senior officials, and that, therefore, the “women and servants” refer to male and female servants who were in favor with the monarchs rather than all women and servants. The Analects of Confucius • Xianwen mentions “the contributions of the benevolent” Guan Zhong in the discussion of Hua-Yi debates and it was mentioned to express the concern about the nation's survival by emphasizing Guan Zhong's great contributions to preserving and developing ancient Chinese culture. Mencius • Gaozixia discusses the importance of rites and sex. In fact what Mencius valued most was value orientation and moral integrity rather than minutiae. These examples show that eight-part essays written in the Ming Dynasty activated and enriched Confucianism with their unique textual formats and that they should be regarded as an important object of study of the Chinese intellectual history.