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VASP Brown Bag – Ying Zou, “Knowledge, Morality, and Politics: A Study on the Ascription of The Great Learning (大學)”
February 27 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
The Great Learning (大學) is one of the most important texts in the Confucian canon. Originally the forty-second chapter of The Book of Rites, The Great Learning became one of The Four Books (四書) in the Song Dynasty. The book had been widely studied and interpreted by scholars throughout history. One of the key debates among scholars concerns whether the ideology in The Great Learning belongs to Mencius or Xunzi. After Confucius, Mencius and Xunzi are considered by Confucian scholars as two different thinkers of the Confucian tradition. Modern Chinese philosopher Feng Youlan believed the Great Learning inherited the ideology of Xunzi while historian Xu Fuguan regarded the text as an expression of Mencius’s ideas. By analyzing some of the most important keywords in the text, I hope to explain why people tend to have this kind of confusion about the ascription of the Great Learning. And there are two paths for me to do this analysis. The first one is the relationship between morality and politics in The Great Learning. The second one is the relationship between knowledge and morality, which is a heated topic in ancient Chinese Confucian.