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  • Andrew Meyer (a1)

Though the Guodian manuscripts have been viewed as an eclectic mix of texts, this article argues that, viewed in historical context, the collection has more coherence than has conventionally been supposed. Since the texts were interred in Chu c. 300 b.c.e., they should be read against other expressions of that time and place. The Mozi, much of which was likely used or produced by authors active in Chu at the time of the Guodian internment, is particularly illuminating in this regard. Though the individual Guodian texts do frequently contradict one another, they are yet commonly useful for formulating logical and rhetorical attacks on the teachings of the Mozi. The occupant of Guodian Tomb Number One may thus have collected these texts not for their doctrinal consistency with one another, but for their usefulness in use against intellectual opponents (among whom the Mohists clearly ranked). This, in fact, was likely a guiding principle for many Warring States literati in negotiating their production and utilization of texts.


虽然郭店楚简的几篇文章被认为杂乱混合,其实它们的采集比较有道理。即使简文于公元前 300 年左右在楚国被埋葬,我们应该把它们和同时同地的文章比起来。做为这种比较,墨子特别有用。虽然郭店简文互相有矛盾,可是它们都一样对反抗墨子的教导有用。郭店第一墓的墓主,采集文章的时候,大概是选择能用反对知识对手的材料,不管它们之间有没有冲突。这果然是战国时代文士创作与应用文章的基本原则。

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1. Sarah Allan and Crispin Williams, eds., The Guodian Laozi: Proceedings of the International Conference, Dartmouth College, May 1998 (Berkeley: The Society for the Study of Early China and the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 2000), 118–20

2. Jiyu Ren, “Guodian Chu jian yu Chu wenhua” 郭店楚簡與楚文化, in Guodian Chu jian guoji xueshu yantaohui lunwenji 郭店楚簡國際學術研討會論文集, ed. Feng Tianyu 馮天瑜 (Wuhan: Hubei Renmin, 2000), 12.

3. An example would be: Li Cunshan 李存山, “Cong Guodian Chu jian kan zaoqi Dao-Ru guanxi” 從郭店楚簡看早期道儒關係, in Guodian Chu jian Yanjiu 郭店楚簡研究, ed. Jiang Guanghui 姜廣輝 (Shenyang: Liaoning Jiaoyu, 1999), 187203.

4. For the derivation of the category Liu yi see Han shu 漢書 (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1962), 30.1701, 1723. For listing of the Li ji among the “Six Arts” see p. 30.1709. For the derivation of the category Dao jia see Han shu 30.1732, the Laozi is listed among Dao jia works on Han shu 30.1729.

5. Allan and Williams, Guodian Laozi, 182.

6. Jingmenshi Bowuguan 荊門市博物館, Guodian Chu mu zhujian 郭店楚墓竹簡 (Beijing: Wenwu Press, 1998), 217. See also Li Ling 李零, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji 郭店楚墓竹簡校讀記 (Beijing: Beijing University Press, 2002), 44. Li entitles this entire text Shui zhi dao 說之道 (“The Way of Persuasion”). In this and subsequent quotations from the Guodian manuscripts I have followed Li Ling's transcriptions into modern characters unless otherwise noted.

7. Many recent studies of all four texts may be cited in this regard. A survey of scholarly opinions may be consulted in Loewe Michael, ed., Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide (Berkeley: The Society for the Study of Early China, 1993).

8. For example Pang Pu 龐朴, “Kong-Meng zhi jian-Guodian Chu jian zhong de Rujia xingshuo” 孔孟之間-郭店楚簡中的儒家性說, Guodian Chu jian yanjiu, 22–35. Ikeda Tomihasa 池田知久, “Guodian Chu jian ‘Wu xing’ yanjiu” 郭店楚簡 ‘五行’ 研究, in Guodian jian yu Ruxue yanjiu 郭店楚簡與儒學研究, ed. Jiang Guanghui 姜廣輝 (Shenyang: Liaoning jiaoyu, 2000), 92133.

9. Sun Yirang 孫詒讓, “Mozi zhuan lue” 墨子傳略, in Mozi jiangu 墨子間詁 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2001), 680–91. Qian Mu 錢穆 gives approximate dates for Mo Di of 444–393 b.c.e., Qian Mu, Xian Qin zhuzi xinian 先秦諸子繫年 (rev. ed.) (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1956), 8990.

10. Mozi 50, Gong Shu” 公輸 (Mozi zhuzi suoyin 墨子逐字索引, Institute for Chinese Studies Concordance [Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1996], pp. 115–16). Subsequent citations of the Mozi will provide the location in the Zhuzi suoyin edition using the form juan/page/line.

11. Lüshi chunqiu 19.3 (Lüshi chunqi zhuzi suoyin 呂氏春秋逐字索引, Institute for Chinese Studies Concordance [Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1994], pp. 122, ll. 1223).

12. Han Feizi, “Xian xue” 顯學 (Han Feizi zhuzi suoyin, Institute for Chinese Studies Concordance [Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2000], p. 150, ll. 1819).

13. Zhuangzi, “Tian xia” 天下 (Zhuangzi zhuzi suoyin 莊子逐字索引, Institute for Chinese Studies Concordance [Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2000], p. 98, ll. 2325.

14. Graham Angus, Divisions in Early Mohism Reflected in the Core Chapters of the Mo-tzu. (Singapore: Institute of East Asian Philosophies, 1985). The “Core Chapters (8–37)” are all named after the so-called “Ten Theses” that were the basic teachings of Mohism. For each thesis the Mozi lists a triad of parallel essays. Seven of these essays are lost and three, by Graham's analysis, consist of “digests and fragments.” Using linguistic and structural analysis Graham analyzed the core triads into three sequences labeled Y, H, and J. Graham asserted that the J series (of which only 10 [“Shang xian, xia”], 13 [“Shang tong, xia”], 28 [“Tian zhi, xia”], and parts of 35/36 [“Fei ming shang/zhong”] remain extant) was the product of the “southern Mohists.”

15. Maeder Erik W., “Some Observations on the Composition of the ‘Core Chapters’ of the Mozi.Early China 17 (1992), 2782.

16. Maeder, 82.

17. Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism, 1.

18. For a review of opinions on the dating of the text see Graham A.C., “Mo tzu,” in Early Chinese Texts, ed. Loewe Michael, 337–38.

19. The extant Mozi obviously comes down to us through the mediation of editors and transmitters to which the Guodian manuscripts were not subjected. Even so the former affords us a rich source against which to read the latter. Below I will draw freely from the reliably early portions of the Mozi, making note of Graham's identification of the “southern” series where it might qualify a comparative reading.

20. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 179; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 105.

21. Mozi 36, “Fei ming, zhong” 非命中, 9.4/61/23–25.

22. Mozi 36, “Fei ming, zhong,” 9.4/61/22. See Mozi zhuzi suoyin n. 7 for emendations to the received text. It is interesting to note that Graham identifies this section of “Fei ming, zhong” as belonging to the southern “J series.”

23. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 180; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 106.

24. Mozi 32, “Fei yue, shang” 非樂上, 8.4/55/25; 56/12, 19, 24, 29; 57/15.

25. As Schwartz Benjamin states: “In sum, I think that Mo-tzu, having rejected all the positive ground on the basis of which Confucianism exalts li and music, is free to see them as contributing nothing to the real needs of society …,The World of Thought in Ancient China (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), 153.

26. Mozi 32, “Fei yue, shang,” 8.4/55/19–25.

27. Mozi 32, “Fei yue, shang,” 8.4/56/6–8.

28. For example Mozi 32, 8.4/57/20–22.

29. Mozi 47, “Gui yi 貴義,” 12.1/104/25–26. Yu Yue 俞樾 (1821–1907 c.e.) notes that there should be a “hatred 惡” after the “love” to make six blockages. Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 442–43.

30. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 179; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 105.

31. All three texts of “Universal Love” are extant: Mozi 4.1/23/27–4.3/30/10.

32. Mozi 40, “Jing” 經, 10.1.15/68/1. Though this is one of the “logic” chapters, it is among the earliest. The identification of “rightness” with “benefit” is in any case implicit throughout the earliest doctrinal writings of the text. This definition is discussed in Graham A.C., Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1978), 4951, 270–71.

33. Mozi 4, “Fa yi 法儀,” 1.4/4/7–24.

34. Mozi 28, “Tian zhi, xia 天志下” 7.3/44/1–4. Graham identifies this chapter as one of the southern “J series.”

35. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 180; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 106. The original text is subtle here. I follow Li Ling's interpretation, which has good basis in the context. The Way consists of four “arts,” chief of which are the arts of the mind. The other four arts, the “human Way,” consist of the expressions of human culture: 1) poetry, 2) prose, 3) ritual and music. Each of these arts of “the human Way” guide (translating the word dao as the verb “to guide”) the mind in thought, verbal expression, and movement. The arts of the mind are described subsequently in the latter section of the text, and involve getting in touch with the “genuine” responses of one's mind. See the text quoted from the second part of Xing zi ming chu, below.

36. Guodian Chu mu zhujian 181; Li Ling Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 107.

37. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 179; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 106.

38. Mozi 11, “Shang tong, shang 尚同上,” 3.1/16/9–17/5. Graham identifies this chapter as one of the northern “Y series,” and perceives differences between the “southern Mohists” and northerners within the “Shang tong” triad. However, those differences center on what Graham views as an accommodation of feudal authority structures in the “J series” chapter, chapter 13. That chapter expresses comparable ideas about the dangers of individual subjectivity and the utility of a social-control “feedback loop,” only less succinctly.

39. Mozi 10, “Shang xian, xia 尚賢下,” 2.3/13/23–14/4. Graham identifies this as one of the “J series” southern Mohist chapters.

40. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 181; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 107.

41. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 141; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 85.

42. Note that the Mozi’s injunction that the people should admonish their ruler's mistakes is not equivalent to Zisi's dictum. Such admonition is restricted to the application of the shared and objective standard of Heaven's will to the ruler's actions. Because this standard is the same in all cases for all people, there is no question of the ruler “hating” it; it does not implicate the emotional faculties of either the ruler or his admonisher.

43. The name “Chengzhi wenzhi” results from the original ordering of the bamboo strips on which the text was written by the editors of the Guodian zhujian. More recently, scholars have suggested that this ordering must be amended, entailing a change in the name of the text. See Wang Bo 王博, “Guanyu Guodian Chu mu jujian fenpian yu lianzhui de jidian xiangfa” 關於郭店楚簡分篇與連綴的幾點想法, in Guodian jian yu Ruxue yanjiu 郭店楚簡與儒學研究, ed. Jiang Guanghui 姜廣輝 (Shenyang: Liaoning jiaoyu, 2000), 258–61. Li Ling follows an amended order and proposes the new title of “Jiao (Teaching)” 教 (Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 121, 124–25). As the text is still known by Chengzhi wenzhi I have followed Li Ling's order but retained the familiar title.

44. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 173; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 139.

45. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 149; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 78.

46. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 150; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 79.

47. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 168; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 122.

48. This is the title of one of the Airs of Zheng (Zheng feng)” 鄭風 in the Book of Odes (Mao shi zhushu 毛詩注疏 [Shisanjing zhushu 十三經注疏 ed., Beijing: Zhonghua, 1991], 4–2.336.2).

49. This is the title of one of the “Lesser Elegantiae (Xiao ya)” 小雅 of the Book of Odes (Mao shi zhushu, 12–3.456.1).

50. The following is a quote from “King Wen” 文王, one of the “Greater Elegantiae (Da ya)” 大雅. (Mao shi zhushu, 16–1.502.3).

51. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 129; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 61.

52. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 163; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 100.

53. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 174; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 131–32.

54. Mozi 16, “Jian ai, xia” 兼愛下, 4.3/27/30–28/1.

55. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 158; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 96.

56. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 157; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 95.

57. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 157–58; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 96.

58. This would, arguably, in fact be the natural consequence of a total adherence to the Mozi’s world view. While the authors and adherents of the Mozi might admit it if pressed, it would have been an uncomfortable admission to have to make in the rhetorical culture of the Warring States.

59. Allan Sarah, The Heir and the Sage: Dynastic Legend in Early China (San Francisco: Chinese Materials Center, 1981), 127.

60. Mozi 4, “Fa yi” 法儀, 1.7/8/26–27.

61. Mozi 4, “Fa yi” 法儀, 1.4/4/27–5/4.

62. Here I accept a variant reading proposed by Qiu Xigui (Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 146, n. 11).

63. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 145; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 86.

64. Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 32.

65. The issue of why the Laozi parallels might be deemed “Daoist” enters into the long history of how “Daoism” has been constructed as a category of analysis in modern Early China studies and the ongoing controversy over its “proper” significance. Here I reductively collapse this complex tale by reference to the Han shu “Yiwen zhi” only to indicate that, although there are many ways these four Guodian texts might be adduced as Daoist (a judgment with which I do not incontrovertibly disagree), they are almost all anachronistic or at least ahistorical.

66. Han shu 30.1729.

67. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 125; Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 32; Allan and Williams, Guodian Laozi, 230–31.

68. This celestial observation, “that the ecliptic … does not coincide with the celestial equator,” is a common fixture of ancient cosmological texts. Major John S., Heaven and Earth in Early Han Thought: Chapters Three, Four and Five of the Huainanzi (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), 6264.

69. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 112; Guodian Laozi A11, Allan and Williams, 205.

70. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 112; Guodian Laozi A13, Allan and Williams, 207.

71. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 111; Guodian Laozi A1, Allan and Williams, 195.

72. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 111; Guodian Laozi A3, Allan and Williams, 197.

73. Harold Roth, “Some Methodological Issues in the Study of Guodian Laozi Parallels,” in Allan and Williams, Guodian Laozi, 85–86.

74. Here I am following Li Ling's suggestion that the two characters which appear in the Guodian manuscript (the first a 畜 on the left and a 刀 on the right; the second a 尔 on top and two 貝’s on the bottom) might be alternate forms of the characters that appear in the received text (Li Ling, Guodian Chu jian jiaodu ji, 13, n. 9). The original editors of the manuscript note that these graphs “await investigation” (Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 116, n. 65).

75. Guodian Chu mu zhujian, 112–13; Guodian Laozi A15, Allan and Williams, 209.

76. Li Xueqin, “The Confucian Texts from Guodian Tomb Number One: Their Date and Significance,” in Guodian Laozi, ed. Allan and Williams, 110.

77. Cook Constance and Major John S., Defining Chu: Image and Reality in Ancient China (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999), 120.

78. Li Xueqin 李學勤, “Xian Qian Rujia zhuzuo de zhongda faxian” 先秦儒家著作的重大發現, Guodian Chu jian yanjiu, 13–17.

79. For example, despite his ideas on the differences between the “Three Sects,” Angus Graham notes of the Mozi that “… except in the Military Chapters, and in chs. 1 and 2, it displays everywhere the distinctive thought of the Mohist school …” (Early Chinese Texts, 337). Maeder states further, I see … far greater sharing of primary material among the different ‘schools’ of Mohism, and hence among the ‘sects’ themselves, than Graham seems to have allowed for.” (Early China 17 (1992), 81).

80. This qualification is necessary because within the passages of many Guodian writings texts such as the Odes 詩 and Documents 書 are treated as canonical. Nowhere is there an attempt to distill a coherent orthodoxy from these texts, however. Rather, they are treated as somewhat plastic funds of wisdom accessible only through exegetical treatment such as that exemplified by the Zi yi.

81. A “master practice” that might be added to and subsume all of these four would be “learning (xue 學),” although this is a much more expansive and protean phenomenon than these others.

82. This Analects is less explicit in this regard than the Xunzi or the Mencius for chronological reasons.

83. Robert Eno has made a similar observation through his own reading of transmitted Warring States texts: “[We are] led to picture Ruism more as a community of men than as a body of doctrine. Programs of ritual activity will appear as the distinguishing core of that community.” See Robert Eno, The Confucian Creation of Heaven: Philosophy and the Defense of Ritual Mastery (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990), 7. Although I would argue that Eno's identification of “core” Ru praxis must be expanded to include poetry, prose, music, and study, I would otherwise fundamentally agree with his analysis.

84. The paradigmatic instance of this is the Xunzi’s acknowledgement of Mencius and Zisi as fellow Ru.

85. Doctrine had a powerful role in negatively determining the parameters of practice, the ban on music is a case in point. But even positive practical participation was largely mediated by doctrine. The best example of this is afforded by disputation, perhaps the central Mohist art. Although disputation was undeniably a form of practice, it entailed a thorough knowledge of doctrine and was largely undertaken to defend and promulgate doctrine.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the conference, “Confucianism Resurrected: The Third International Conference on Excavated Chinese Manuscripts,” held at Mt. Holyoke College, April 23–25, 2004. I am grateful to Xing Wen and Robin Yates for their critical comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

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