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Chinese Philosophy - The Changzhou School 常州學派

The Changzhou School (Changzhou xuepai 常州學派) was a philosophical school of the mid-Qing period 清 (1644-1911) that was founded by Zhuang Cunyu 莊存與 from Changzhou 常州, Jiangsu. Zhuang defended the new-text tradition against the old-text tradition (see old-text and new-text debate) and so constituted a philosophical trend not belonging to the mainstream of his time. The most important text for the interpretation of Confucianism was, in his eyes, the Gongyang Commentary 公羊傳 to the Chunqiu 春秋 "Spring and Autumn Annals". The Changzhou School is therefore also called the Gongyang School (Gongyang xuepai 公羊學派). In his book Chunqiu zhengci 春秋正辭 Zhuang Cunyu confirmed that the Gongyang Commentary was a text in which even "small words had a great meaning" (wei yan da yi 微言大義), but unfortunately, it was totally neglected after the end of the Eastern Han dynasty 東漢 (25-220 CE). After Zhuang's death the studies of the school were continued by Liu Fenglu 劉逢祿, who wrote the book Chunqiu Gongyang jingzhuan Heshi shili 春秋公羊經傳何氏釋例, in which he doubted the correctness of the texts venerated by the old-text school. Other representatives of the Changzhou school were Zhuang Cunyu's nephew Zhuang Shuzu 莊述祖, his kinsman Zhuang Youke 莊有可, his grandson Zhuang Shoujia 莊绶甲, and his disciple Song Xiangfeng 宋翔鳳. In later years the propositions of the Gongyang School were intensified by the studies of Wei Yuan 魏源, Gong Zizhen 龔自珍, Wang Kaiyun 王闓運, Liao Ping 廖平, Kang Youwei 康有為, Liang Qichao 梁啟超 and Tan Sitong 譚嗣同. In 1891 Kang Youwei published his important book Xinxue weijing kao 新學偽經考, in which he attacked the old-text tradition as a school relying on forgeries that had been created by Liu Xin 劉歆 during the Han period. These texts were not, Kang said, products of the true spirit of Confucius.

Source: Xu Xinghai 徐興海 (ed. 1988), "Changzhou xuepai 常州學派", in Zhano Jihui 趙吉惠, Guo Hou'an 郭厚安 (ed.), Zhongguo ruxue cidian 中國儒學辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), p. 520.

February 8, 2014 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail