We don’t need no (Confucian) education! A Northern Song Reading of the Liezi

Richard J. Sage

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

One of the common traits ancient speculative Daoist texts share is their aversion to a society based on Confucian morals. The Liezi’s anecdote about Huazi has often been cited as prime example for this attitude and its inherent yearning for a return to the Dao. Remarkably, one of the most radical interpretations of this passage was authored by a high-ranking member of the Northern Song imperial court. Combining references to other classics with Buddhist concepts and terminology to expound a mysticism rooted in the Daoist tradition, Fan Zhixu’s 范致虛 (?–1129) commentary is not only a masterpiece of exegetical literature, but also provides valuable insights into the unique intellectual atmosphere at and around Emperor Huizong’s court. This case study serves as introduction to Fan’s forgotten work and simultaneously to a widely neglected set of sources regarding the religio-political developments during Huizong’s controversial reign.

中國古代推測性道教典籍的共同特征之一是對基於儒家倫理道德的社會的厭惡。《列子》中關於華子的軼事就經常被稱引為這種態度及對道的回歸的內在渴望的典型例子。值得註意的是,對這段文字最激進的解釋之一出自北宋朝廷的一位高官之手。通過將對其他經典的引用與佛教的概念和術語相結合,從而闡釋一種根植於道教傳統的神秘主義,范致虛的注釋不僅是訓釋文學的傑作,同時還為我們了解宋徽宗朝廷內外的獨特思想氛圍提供了寶貴的見解。本文中的案例研究不僅向讀者重新介紹了范致虛這部已被遺忘的著作,同時也為其揭開了一組有關徽宗在位期間宗教和政治發展的廣受忽視的材料。
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579–623
Number of pages45
JournalT'oung Pao
Volume109
Issue number5-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

User-Defined Keywords

  • Song Huizong
  • Fan Zhixu
  • Daoism
  • commentary
  • mysticism

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