1928: Qian Mu on Confucius and the Status of His Doctrine

Qian Mu (錢穆 aka Ch’ien Mu) was one of the top Chinese classical scholars of the 20th Century. Here an introduction to Confucius Qian Mu gave to students in Suzhou in 1928. We see in his presentation how he locates Confucius among the most important currents of thought and major religions in China during the 1920s: individualism and socialism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. He urges his students to treasure and not despise Confucius and his philosophy as some Chinese did at the time and remarks that some German scholars respect Confucius thought very highly.

Qian Mu’s 1928 lecture, like Hu Shih’s letter to his son written a year later 1929: Hu Shih’s Letter to his Son: Be the Best Person You Can Be, gives us a flavor of its time. [Hyper-parenthetically, when I looked at the Chinese language Wiki articles on Qian Mu (naturally the Chinese language ones on China are often more detailed and better) I discovered Li Ao’s comment — apparently Hu Shih and Qian Mu couldn’t stand each another. New culture guy vs. Old culture guy?]

Qian Mu is one of the most respected commentators on the two millenia-old Analects 《论语》of Confucius. While some translations of the Analects are simply that — translations of the text — it is best read together with several of the commentaries that explain the text and have become intertwined with the text. Like the New Testament of the Bible, the Analects was written by the disciples of Confucius after his death and not by Confuius himself. Parts of the Analects, especially the later chapters have a different flavor than the earlier ones (perhaps like the Biblical Apocrypha written later than the earlier chapters; reflecting debates or jockeying for influences among schools founded by Confucius’ disciples). Like China today, in ancient China strict censorship of influential texts and promotion of the ideological line in favor at the imperial court were common.

Quite possibly some commentators re-interpreted Confucian thinking so that it would be more in line with the core of the imperial court with the Emperor at its center. Even more likely, they simply took Confucius words and interpreted them according to what his words and phrases had come to mean in their own times as the great sea of the ever-changing Chinese language exchanged currents of thought with its neighbors and in more recent centuries, Europe. Another parallel with the Bible is that a schools of textual analysis arose in both China and the Biblical criticism in the West (particulary Germany) to better understand the layers involved in the composition of their respective ancient texts. Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide Edited by Michael Loewe gives a look at scholars at work.

While textual criticism has tended to raise doubts, especially intriguing in the case of China is how the semi-mythical stories of the earliest Chinese dynasties have become somewhat less mythical as the ‘myths’ as archaeological work has confirmed some parts of them. Columbia Professor Li Feng’s Early China: A Social and Cultural History makes this point eloquently.

On YouTube you can watch Princeton Professor Benjamin Elman, who did considerable work on Qing Dynasty philology and textual analysis, speak on “Philologists as Rogues?”

One translation of the Analects that explicitly incorporates various commentaries (other translators may rely more on this or that commentator but may not tell you) in explanations of the translated. The best I have seen is Yale Professor Annping Chin’s Confucius: The Analects

From Yale Professor Annping Chin’s Confucius: The Analects Penguin Classics.

Many things keep changing in language: an examples is the meaning of the word junzi 君子 was changing in Confucius’s day from meaning ruler to a larger use that gradually took over as a cultured person or “gentleman”. Princeton Professor Yu Ying-shih wrote an article in Chinese about this decades ago that I translated last year as Yu Ying-shih on The ‘Gentleman’ and the Confucian Ideal. As we try to understand an ancient text we need to take care about how the tectonic plates of language have shifted beneath the feet of the many generations (or shifted because those generations did the lingusitic shifting!) since they were composed.

Other online Analects translations available online and other refereences:

Many lectures by top Chinese scholars are available on YouTube. Below, a presentation by Taiwan University’s Pei-jung Fu (傅佩荣) on the Analects. Qute a wealth of material. I’ve taken notes on a few talks by Chinese scholars on international relations, for example 2013: Chinese Scholars Debate “Elites, Populists and the Future of China”, 2020: Shen Zhihua on State of Chinese Research on Relations with Neighboring Asian Countries and “History and Experience of the Chinese Communist Party’s Engagement with the United States”: A Lecture by Professor Zhang Baijia.

001傅佩榮【論語300講】001–010講

A Brief History of Confucius and the Status of His Doctrine

I

We know that today is the birthday of Confucius. Why is it his birthday? It is because it is written in the Book of Gongsang: “In the twenty-first year of the reign of Duke Xiang of Lu, Confucius was born in the eleventh month of the year Gengzi 庚子[37th year of the 60 year cycle] .” And in Guliang Zhuan, it is written, “In the twenty-first year of the reign of Duke Xiang, in the tenth month of the year of the reign of Duke Gengzi, Confucius was born.” In these two books, the dates and days of Confucius’ birth are the same, but the months are different. If we use the calendar to calculate, we know that there is no Gengzi in the eleventh month, so it is the Gongshang Zhuan that has a month difference.

In addition, the chapter “Family of Confucius” in the “Records of the Grand Historian” states that Confucius was born in the 22nd year of Duke Xiang of Lu, which is another year different from the “Guliang Zhuan”. According to the calendar, the tenth month of the twenty-first year of Duke Xiang was the twenty-first day of the tenth month. After a detailed discussion, it was decided that the chronology in the Historical Records was more correct, so it was decided that Confucius was born in the twenty-second year of Duke Xiang of Lu, that is, on the twenty-seventh day of the tenth month.

However, October in the Zhou Dynasty was the eighth month of the Xia Dynasty calendar. The lunar calendar used today is the Xia calendar. Today is the 27th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, so today is Confucius’ birthday. The 22nd year of Duke Xiang of Lu is 2,475 years ago, so today is the 2,476th year of Confucius’ birthday. We can also know that Confucius was born six years after Buddha Shakyamuni.

II

In addition to the Analects of Confucius, the most ancient book that records the facts of Confucius is the Confucian Family Sayings. Unfortunately, this book has been lost. The current version was shown to be a fake by Wang Su of Wei during the Three Kingdoms, so there is much that cannot be relied upon. The more reliable one is “The Family of Confucius” in “The Records of the Grand Historian”. In addition, there is also the book 《洙泗考信录》”Su Si Kao Xin Lu” compiled by Cui Shu 崔述 of the Qing Dynasty, which is the most detailed. Then there is the second chapter in my 《论语讲义》 [Essentials of the Analects of Confucius] [1], which can also be used as a reference.

When Confucius was thirteen years old, when Shakyamuni was nineteen years old, it was the year when he became a monk. Confucius said, “I was ten and five years old and aspired to study.” He also said, “I was young and lowly, so I performed lowly tasks.” This was his situation in his youth. Confucius was twenty-four years old just when Buddha Shakyamuni was thirty years old and became a preacher. When Confucius reached the age of twenty-seven, Tanzi 郯子 came to Lu, and Confucius asked him about the system for selecting and supervising officials. By that time, Confucius had acquiered an excellent reputation. By the age of thirty-four, Meng Xizi, the great ruler of Lu, urged his two sons to go to Confucius to learn li propriety and said, “Confucius takes after the sages and will be a great man in the future.”

When Confucius was thirty-five years old, Duke Zhaoge of Lu wanted to liquidate the Ji clan, but failed to do so, and so there was great turmoil in the state of Lu so Confucius fled to Qi. After six or seven years, he returned to the state of Lu. However, the three old dominant families of Lu still held on to power and their household ministers still ruled and so Lu was still very chaotic. Confucius then revised the Poetry, the Book, the Rites and the Music, and gave lectures about education. The generation of disciples of Confucius exemplified by Zi Lu, Yan Yuan, Zi Gong and Min Ziqian came to study with Confucius at that time.

When Confucius was fifty-two years old, Duke Ding of Lu appointed him a minister at his court. At the meeting of Jigu, the Marquis of Qi tried to rob the Marquis of Lu, but Confucius fought him off and recovered the land of Wenyang in Lu. At that time, Confucius and his disciple Zi Lu, seeing that the three dominant families of Lu were strong and the government was divided, decided to “take the three capitals“.  At that time, Confucius was fifty-four years old. Later, the two capitals of Jisun and Shusun fell, but the third, Mengsun could not be taken and so Confucius left the state of Lu.

When Confucius was fifty-five years old, he went to Wei. At this time, the ruler of Wei was the Duke of Ling, and he could not employ Confucius. At the age of fifty-seven, he went to Wei and passed through the state of Song on his way, suffering many hardships. At the age of fifty-nine, he went to Chen. When he was sixty-three years old, Wu invaded Chen, and Confucius went to Chen to Cai, where he went hungry for seven days. He met Duke Ye of Chu in the land of Cai. He returned to Wei that year. Later, when he returned to Lu, he was already sixty-eight years old, but the ruler of Lu still could not employ him, so Confucius did some more lecturing. At that time, Zi You, Zi Xia, Zi Zhang, and Zeng Shen were all young men who came to study with him.

At the age of 73, Confucius died in the fourth month of the summer, that is, in the forty-first year of King Jing of Zhou and the sixteenth year of Duke Ai of Lu, 479 years before the Western calendar.

Buddha Shakyamuni died at the age of eighty, one year after Confucius. Jesus was born 479 years after the death of Confucius, and Muhammad became the prophet of Islam 1100 years after Confucius’ death. We all know that there are four major figures of faith in the world; those four are the above-mentioned Buddha, Jesus, Muhammed, and Confucius. But among the four, except for Confucius, all were religious people who established religion based on God’s way, placing their faith in the heavenly kingdom of the next world. Confucius was the one who taught merely the truth of being a human being in the real world and so gained people’s faith.  Jesus and Muhammad came later. Although Siddhartha Buddha was around at the same time as Confucius, his religion has long existed in India in name only. The Indians today only believe in their Brahmanic religion. Therefore, according to the present world, Confucius is the one whose faith is widespread today and very ancient compared with other religious associated with the great figures of ancient times.

III

Confucius truly was someone who sought to reconcile. Other schools of thought liked to go to extremes. Here is Confucius’ analysis.

(1) Reconciliation of Knowledge and Emotion

The spirit of religion is that it can move our emotions. The reason why Confucius’ doctrine inspires the same faith as a religion, is that Confucius moves our deep feelings. Confucius, however, was a scholar, not a religious man. Therefore, his doctrine does not focus on the emotional side. Ten years after Confucius’ death, a great philosopher called Socrates came out of Greece, who was also a learned man in the strict sense, so he said, “Morality is knowledge.” This shows that he favored the spirit of knowledge.

In European thought, there are about two schools of thought. One is Greek thought and the other is Hebrew thought; that is, the philosophy of Socrates and the religion of Jesus. Confucius included these two schools together. Kant of Germany, the new philosopher of modern Europe, pioneered “knowledge” and “twelve categories“. When he discussed morality, he spoke of the “supreme order”. He also favored the intellectual side. Socrates in ancient times and Kant in modern times can represent the European scholars. Both of them stressed knowledge and neglected emotion: they were in opposition to the religionists.

Confucius’ knowledge was certainly profound, but he also talked about emotions. His disciple Zigong asked him, “Are you Confucius not a sage?” Confucius said, “I do not dare to be a sage, but I never tire of learning and teaching.” When Zigong heard this, he said, “If you are not tired of learning, you are wise. If you do not tire of teaching, you are benevolent. If you are benevolent and wise, you are not a saint!” We should know that “wisdom” is knowledge and “benevolence” is emotion. The great sagesse of Confucius is in his reconciliation of knowledge and emotion. Unlike European philosophers, who only talk about knowledge, not emotions. Their religions are dedicated to emotions, regardless of knowledge. This stirred up endless disputes between religion and science. 

Western philosophers, of course, also have deep emotions. For example, Jean-Jacques Rousseau in France, Friedrich

Nietzsche in Germany, and Leo Tolstoy in Russia were all very emotional and highly influential in modern thought. However, a reading of Rousseau’s book Confessions suffices to reveal the uneasy feelings that persisted throughout his life. Rousseau went mad in the end. Nietzsche later in life also had a nervous breakdown. All his thoughts were written down as he lay on his pillow so how could they be very reliable! People say that he was madly calling for the morality of the strong because he himself endured lifelong weakness. In his life, Tolstoy also went through many regrets, changes and unhappiness in his thoughts and in his life.  In the end, he sought his own death. This is all because he was a man of great emotions but lacked sufficient knowledge to master them; in the end he did not lead a proper life.

This was not the case with Confucius, who reconciled his emotions with his knowledge. That’s why his life was very smooth. It is not that Confucius did not talk about knowledge, but unlike the Westerners who talk about knowledge, he was not dull or cold. The knowledge of the Westerners is hard.  They have minds but no heart. The knowledge of the Chinese is soft; it holds both mind and heart.  If we were to liken people to beasts, then Westerners would be wolves and Chinese would be dogs. Dogs are tractable; wolves are fierce and ruthless. The Westerners are lions, and the Chinese are elephants. The elephant is kind while the lion is violent.

Confucius was the one who advocated “gentle, kind and frugal”, so he was able to reconcile knowledge with emotion, and religion with learning.

(2) Reconciling the two worlds of the present and the future

When we talk about the world, there are two worlds, the present and the future. Religious people are specialized in speaking about the future world, so Jesus and God live in one world, and Sakyamuni Buddha’s world is heavenly nirvana. The Tao they preach only persuades people to look to the next world. This is something that Confucius definitely did not preach.

Look at Zi Lu’s question to Confucius about “serving ghosts and spirits”. 季路問事鬼神。Confucius answered saying, If you cannot serve man, how can you serve ghosts and spirits?

When he asked about death, Confucius answered saying “How can one know death before knowing life?” 「未知生焉知死?」

We can know that Confucius’ world is the world of human beings. He also said. “It is impossible to associate with birds and beasts, as if they were the same with us. If I do not associate myself with people [humankind], then how could I associate myself with anyone?”

Then the world of human beings is his heavenly nirvana. The filial piety, discipleship, loyalty, faith, rituals, music, etc. that he spoke of are the conditions that call human beings to the world of bliss. The world of bliss lives only in our own warm hearts.

So religion removes human beings from the present world and orients them towards the future world. Confucius’s objective is to take our hopes for the future and calls on us manifest them in the here and now. This is the second kind of reconciliation of Confucius.

(3) The Reconciliation of Socialism and Individualism

Friedrich Nietzsche, whom I mentioned earlier, represents individualism; Leo Tolstoy represents socialism. Those who speak of socialism inevitably efface the individual; those who speak of individualism refuse to take society into account. These are the polar extreme of modern European thought; there is no room to reconcile them. They have suffered greatly from this ideological pain. In the doctrines of Confucius, however, these two points are reconciled.

Confucius taught loyalty, forgiveness, filial piety, and discipline, which are the socialism of “being human”. But loyalty, forgiveness, filial piety, and discipline are only our own feelings. I only do what I am comfortable with and what is good for me, never be driven by outside obligation or compulsion; is this not individualism “for me”? Confucius only spoke of loyalty, forgiveness, filial piety, and brotherhood.  He saw that there is no conflict between the individual and society.

Jesus said, “He who believes in me, that one will go to Heaven.” He who believes in me for the Father goes to heaven for the Father. He who believes in me for his Son, he who believes in me for his Son goes to heaven. He is separating out individual interrelationships, there remains only the personal relationship between the individual and God.

Confucius is different. The doctrine of Confucius only stops at “kindness” for the father, “filial piety” for the son, “love” for the brother, and “respect” for the disciple. “. Confucius spoke only of human relationships. He organized the ethics of society as a whole, and since human emotions are the main focus of his doctrine, and so there is no need for a God, and there was no rift between the individual and society. This is the doctrine of Confucius.

Confucius was able to reconcile all three.

IV

Over two millennia — 2,476 years — have passed since the birth of Confucius. Confucius’ thought seems to be very simple, but if we study it carefully, we discover that it is infinitely previous. Recently, Chinese people have come to think that the doctrine of Confucius is old-fashioned and of no great use. Everyone today wants to study fashionable Western philosophy. What they do not realize is that those Westerners themselves want to study Confucius! Nowadays, there are two schools of thought in German Sinology, the Confucius and Lao Zi schools. The school of German sinology that believes in Confucius is a social youth movement. When they meet, they first read several chapters from the Analects of Confucius.  They treat it with great respect like the Bible.  Are we in our country not unkind and unwise that we despise Confucius when they have such ardent faith in him? Therefore, we should revere Confucius and see to it that his doctrines flourish. This is what I wish for all of you.

(Lecture on the birthday of Confucius at Suzhou High School in the seventeenth year of the Republic of China (1928), originally published in the eleventh issue of the Suzhou High School Journal.)

* * *

[1] Editor’s note: This manuscript is entitled “A Brief History of Confucius and the Status of His Doctrine,” and is the text of a speech given by the author at Suzhou High School in the 17th year of the Republic of China. It is now included in this book as the first chapter to fulfill the author’s last wish.


孔子略史及其学说之地位

今天我们晓得是孔子的生日。何以是他的生日呢?因为《公羊传》上记载:“鲁襄公二十一年十一月庚子孔子生。”《穀梁传》上记载:“鲁襄公二十一年十月庚子孔子生。”这两部书,记载孔子生的年代和日子都相同,而月份不同。我们用历法推算,知道十一月没有庚子,所以是《公羊传》差了一个月。

此外《史记》的《孔子世家》,载孔子生于鲁襄公二十二年,又和《穀梁传》差了一年。据历法推算,鲁襄公二十一年的十月庚子,是十月二十一日。鲁襄公二十二年的十月庚子,是十月二十七日,经过后人的详细讨论,觉得《史记》上的年代要对些,所以决定孔子生在鲁襄公二十二年的十月庚子,即十月二十七日。

但是周朝的十月,是夏历的八月。现在所用的阴历,就是夏历。今天是阴历八月二十七日,所以今天是孔子的生日。鲁襄公二十二年,距今二千四百七十五年,所以今天是孔子第二千四百七十六年的生日。我们并且可以知道孔子之生,后释迦六年。

除《论语》外,记载孔子事实的,最古有一部《孔子家语》。可惜这部书已失传。现行本,是三国时魏之王肃所伪托,所以有许多不可凭信。比较可靠的,就是《史记》上的《孔子世家》。此外还有清朝崔述所编的《洙泗考信录》一部书,比较起来,要算最详实了。再有我编的前二年级的《论语讲义》第二章[1],亦可供参考。

孔子十三岁的时候,当释迦牟尼十九岁,正是出家修道的一年。孔子说:“吾十有五而志于学。”又说:“吾少也贱,故多能鄙事。”这是他早年的情形。孔子二十四岁,当释迦三十岁成道说教的一年。孔子到二十七岁时,郯子到鲁国来,孔子向他问官制。当时孔子的名誉,已经渐渐高起来了。到三十四岁,鲁国大夫孟僖子叮嘱他两个儿子到孔子处学礼,并说:“孔丘是圣人之后,将来必是个达者。”

孔子三十五岁,鲁昭公欲诛季氏,不克,鲁国大乱,孔子就到齐国去。过了六七年,再回到鲁国,仍旧是三家弄权,陪臣执政,乱得很厉害。孔子就修整《诗》、《书》、礼、乐,讲教育的事业。如子路、颜渊、子贡、闵子骞一辈人,多是那时来从学的。

孔子五十二岁,鲁定公用他做司寇。夹谷之会,齐侯想用兵劫鲁侯,被孔子斥退,并且归还鲁国 汶阳的田土。当时孔子和他的弟子子路,见三家强梁,政出多门,便主“堕三都”,那时孔子五十四岁,后来堕掉季孙、叔孙的两个都城,孟孙氏就不肯堕了,孔子也就离开鲁国。

孔子五十五岁,到卫。这时候卫国的国君是灵公,也不能用孔子。五十七岁,去卫,路中经过宋国,遭受许多危难。五十九岁,到陈。到六十三岁那一年,吴伐陈,孔子去陈至蔡,在路上饿了七天。他在蔡地遇到楚国的叶公。他那年又回到卫国。后来再回到鲁国,已是六十八岁了,鲁君仍旧不能用他,于是再做讲学的功夫。那时子游、子夏、子张、曾参一辈少年,也都来从他求学。至七十三岁夏四月己丑孔子卒,就是周敬王四十一年,鲁哀公十六年,西历纪元前四百七十九年。

释迦年八十岁而死,比孔子迟一年。孔子死后四七九年而耶稣生,死后一一〇〇年穆罕默德做了回教王。我们都知道全世界有四大人物得人信仰;那四人,就是上面所说的释氏、耶氏、穆氏和孔子。但是四个人中间,除掉孔子,其他都是宗教家,以神道设教,把出世的天国博人信仰。孔子是只讲现实世界做人的道理而得人信仰的。并且耶氏、穆氏,比较年代都后一些。释迦虽和孔子同时,可是他的宗教,在印度久已名存实亡。印度人还只是信仰他们的婆罗门。所以照现世而论,从古大人物,得人类信仰最博大而永久的,就是孔子。

别派的人多欢喜走到极端,孔子确是一个调和派。现在把他分析讲在下面:

(一)知识和情感的调和

宗教的精神,在能感动我们内部的情感。孔子学说所以得人信仰,和宗教一般,也因为他能感动我们内部情感的缘故。可是孔子是学问家,到底和宗教家不同。所以他的学说,并不专重情感一面。而孔子死后十年,希腊出了一个大哲人,叫做苏格拉底,也是一个纯粹的学问家,所以他说:“道德就是知识。”可见他偏重知识的精神了。

讲到欧洲思想,大约分做两派。一派是希腊思想,一派是希伯来思想;便是苏格拉底的哲学和耶稣的宗教。孔子便把这两派包括在一起。德国的康德,是欧洲近世的新哲学家,他首创“认识”,讲“十二范畴”。他论道德,便说“最高命令”。他也是偏重知识一面的。古代的苏格拉底和现代的康德,便可代表欧洲的学问家。他们都偏重知识,而忘了情感,和宗教家却处一个反对的地位。

孔子的知识,固然博大精深,然而也讲情感。他的弟子子贡问他道:“夫子是圣人了罢?”孔子说:“圣人我是不敢当的,我不过学不厌,教不倦罢了。”子贡听了,便说道:“学不厌,便是智。教不倦,便是仁。仁且智,夫子还不是圣人吗!”我们要知道,“智”便是知识,“仁”便是情感。孔子的大圣,是知识和情感的调和化合。不像欧洲的哲学家,只讲知识,不讲情感。他们的宗教又专讲情感,不顾知识。于是宗教、科学,惹起了无穷的纠纷。

西洋讲哲学的人,固然也有重情感的。如法国的卢骚,德国的尼采,俄国的托尔斯泰,多很讲情感。在近世思想上,占有绝大的势力。然而卢氏自著《忏悔录》一书,就足以表白他全部的生活之不安宁。他到末了还发狂而死。尼采后来也有神经病,所有的思想,是在枕头上写出来的,怎能十分可靠呢!人家说他因为自己犯了终身的弱病,却狂呼强者的道德。托氏一生,思想上,生活上,也经过许多忏悔,许多不安宁,到了结果,也只有自己寻死。这都是徒有充分的情感,没有充分的知识去驾驭,所以终究没有过到适当的生活。

孔子便不是这样,他以知识调和情感。所以他一生很平稳。孔子并不是不讲知识,不过和西洋人讲知识不同,却又不是昏昏的,或是冷冷的,这是孔子过人处。西洋人的知识,是硬的,有头脑而没有心肠。中国人的知识,是软的,有头脑而兼有心肠。把野兽来比喻,西洋人是狼,中国人是狗。狗是可驯服的,狼是凶而无情的。西洋人是狮子,中国人是象。象是和善的,狮子是横暴的。

孔子是提倡“温良恭俭让”的人,所以能够把知识和情感调和,把宗教和学问调和。

(二)调和现在与未来的两个世界

我们讲到世界,有现在和未来的两个。宗教家是专门讲未来世界的,所以耶稣和上帝住在一个世界,释迦的世界是天堂涅槃。他们所讲的道,只是劝人出世。这是孔子绝对不讲的。

看子路问“事鬼神”,孔子回答他说:

未能事人,焉能事鬼?

问“死”,曰:

未知生,焉知死?

可以知道孔子的世界,便是人类世界。他又说:

吾非斯人之徒与而谁与!

那末人类的世界,便是他的天堂涅槃。他所讲的孝、弟、忠、信、礼、乐等等,就是叫人类到极乐世界的条件。极乐世界,只在我们温暖的心里。

所以宗教是要把人类脱离了现在的世界,带到未来世界去。孔子是要把未来世界,表现在现在的社会里。这是孔子的第二种调和。

(三)社会主义与个人主义之调和

我先前讲过的尼采,便是个人主义的代表;托尔斯泰便是社会主义的代表。讲社会主义的,未免抹杀了个人;讲个人主义的,又不肯顾全到社会。这是欧洲现代思想的极端,没有调和的余地。他们为此,思想上遭受许多的痛苦。可是在孔子的学说里面,便把这两点调和了。

孔子教人忠、恕、孝、弟,乃是“为人”的社会主义。但忠、恕、孝、弟,只是我们自己本有的情感。我只是行我所安,行我所好,绝不是由外面的义务和强迫;这不是“为我”的个人主义了么?孔子只讲忠、恕、孝、弟,便见个人和社会绝无冲突。

耶稣说:“那个信仰我,那个便可到天堂。”为父的信仰我,为父的便到了天堂。为儿子的信仰我,为儿子的便到了天堂。他是把我们各个人的相互关系分开的,只有个人和上帝的关系。

孔子就不同了。孔子的学说,只是为父的止于“慈”,为子的止于“孝”,为兄的止于“爱”,为弟的止于“敬”。孔子只讲人与人的关系。他把全社会的伦理组织起来,而一以人类本有之情感为主便不需要一个上帝,个人和社会也没有裂痕。这是孔子的学说。

上面三种极大的问题,孔子都能调和,这种思想,何等的伟大啊!

孔子自生以后,到今天已经有了二千四百七十六年的历史。看看似乎很简单,然而仔细去研究,实在有无穷的价值。近来中国人以为孔子学说是陈腐的,没有大的用处。大家要研究时髦的西洋哲学。那里知道外国人倒也要研究孔子。现在德国人研究中国学术,有孔、老两派。信仰孔子的一派人,是社会青年团。他们遇到开会的时候,每先读《论语》数章,敬如《圣经》。他们信仰有如此热诚,我国自己反而轻慢他,这岂不是不仁不智么?所以我们应当崇拜孔子,使他的学说发扬光大。这是我所希望于大家的。

(民国十七年苏州中学 孔子诞辰讲词,原载《苏中校刊》十一期。)


[1] 编者按:即今《四书释义》一书中之《论语要略》。第二章为“孔子之事迹”。

[1] 编者按:此稿今已检得,名《孔子略史及其学说之地位》,乃民国十七年作者在苏州中学之演讲稿。现收入本书为篇首,以完作者遗愿。

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated, with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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