ERIC Number: EJ1086968
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Abstractor: As Provided
Modern versus Tradition: Are There Two Different Approaches to Reading of the Confucian Classics?
Educational Philosophy and Theory, v48 n1 p106-118 2016
How to read the Confucian Classics today? Scholars with philosophical training usually emphasize that the philosophical approach, in comparison with the classicist and historical ones, is the best way to read the Confucian Classics, for it can dig out as much intellectual resources as possible from the classical texts in order to show their modern relevance. Briefly, the philosophical approach runs as follows: (1) first, to discover or identify the philosophical question inhered in the text; (2) then to reconstruct the line of thinking, reasoning, and argumentation revealed in the text, which will lead to the answer of the question; and (3) finally evaluate the effectiveness of the answer by any possible criticism. In spite of the fact that the philosophical approach does help showing the Confucian classics are of great significance to modern people, some scholars seriously caution that this theorization would alienate Confucianism from its very practical concern about self-cultivation. Accordingly, traditional Confucian scholars adopted an existential approach to reading, that is using their personal experience to read, question, understand, and comprehend the meanings of the text, making their comprehension as something they find in themselves and thus will be at ease in it. So there seems to be a dichotomy between the modern philosophical approach and the traditional existential approach to reading of the Confucian Classics. In this paper, I shall argue that the dichotomy has never existed. In fact, traditional Confucian scholars read the Confucian canon in both the philosophical and existential ways. Song Confucian Zhu Xi's "Method of Reading" is a case in point. I shall then argue that these two approaches should be irreducible and inseparable so as to form a proper way of reading as well as teaching the Confucian Classics today.
Descriptors: Confucianism, Educational Philosophy, Reading Processes, Individual Development, Thinking Skills, Persuasive Discourse, Criticism, Reading Comprehension, Reading Strategies, Teaching Methods, Educational History
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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