New Sources of Early Confucian Thought

 Confucian Dialogue Texts among the Shanghai Museum Manuscripts

Scott Cook (Photo: Private)

Scott Cook (Photo: Private)

In this talk, Scott Cook will discuss what some recently excavated manuscripts from early China tell us about the lively debates among Confucius’s followers in the 4th century BC.

The event is open for everyone.

New insights

Among recently excavated Warring States (475-221 BC) bamboo manuscripts—in particular the grave-looted manuscripts of Chu purchased by the Shanghai Museum 上博楚簡—there are a number of texts in which we find Kong Zi (Confucius) portrayed in dialogue with important ministers and disciples, each offering, in contrast to what we find in the Lunyu 論語 (Analects of Confucius), relatively sustained discourse on some aspect of ethical governance.

While not necessarily revealing anything about the historical Kong Zi himself, these texts nonetheless give us interesting glimpses into what was likely being debated by his followers in the 4th Century BC. This talk will focus on three of those manuscript texts—“Kong Zi Had Audience with Ji Huanzi” 孔子見季桓子, “Ji Kangzi Asked Kong Zi” 季康子問於孔子, and “Zigao” 子羔—presenting a new reading of each text and a discussion of what each may have to offer in terms of better understanding the evolving debates in which the followers of Confucius were involved over the course of the Warring States period.              

About the speaker

Scott Cook is one of the world’s foremost scholars of early Chinese excavated texts. His two-volume translation and study of The Bamboo Texts of Guodian is a milestone in Western scholarship within the field. He is Tan Chin Tuan Professor of Chinese Studies at Yale NUS College, where he teaches courses on the Chinese philosophical and literary tradition, including prose, poetry, historiography, and tales of the strange.

On the following day, professor Cook will lead a reading seminar on another text from the Shanghai Museum material, 魯邦大旱 (The great drought of the state of Lu). Time and place: Thursday 16 May 2019, 10:15–12:00, seminarrom 8, P. A. Munchs hus. Interested participants can register by sending an e-mail to and will then receive the text material beforehand.


Halvor Eifring
Published Mar. 18, 2019 2:53 PM - Last modified Mar. 18, 2019 2:54 PM