Record of Daily Knowledge and Collected Poems and Essays: Selections

Hardcover | November 8, 2016

byYanwu GuTranslated byIan Johnston

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Gu Yanwu pioneered the late-Ming and early Qing-era practice of Han Learning, or Evidential Learning, favoring practical over theoretical approaches to knowledge. He strongly encouraged scholars to return to the simple, ethical precepts of early Confucianism, and in his best-known work, Rizhi lu (Record of Daily Knowledge), he applied this paradigm to literature, government, economics, history, education, and philology. This volume includes translations of selected essays from Rizhi lu and Gu Yanwu's Shiwen Ji (Collected Poems and Essays), along with an introduction explaining the personal and political dimensions of the scholar's work.

Gu Yanwu wrote the essays and poems featured in this volume while traveling across China during the decades immediately after the fall of the Ming Dynasty. They merge personal observation with rich articulations of Confucian principles and are, as Gu said, "not old coin but copper dug from the hills." Like many of his contemporaries, Gu Yanwu believed the Ming Dynasty had suffered from an overconcentration of power in its central government and recommended decentralizing authority while strengthening provincial self-government. In his introduction, Ian Johnston recounts Gu Yanwu's personal history and reviews his published works, along with their scholarly reception. Annotations accompany his translations, and a special essay on feudalism by Tang Dynasty poet and scholar Liu Zongyuan (773-819) provides insight into Gu Yanwu's later work on the subject.

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Gu Yanwu pioneered the late-Ming and early Qing-era practice of Han Learning, or Evidential Learning, favoring practical over theoretical approaches to knowledge. He strongly encouraged scholars to return to the simple, ethical precepts of early Confucianism, and in his best-known work, Rizhi lu (Record of Daily Knowledge), he applied...

Gu Yanwu (1613-1682), born in the late years of the Ming Dynasty, had an unusual education, supervised by his grandfather and his adoptive mother, Wang. The latter, a woman of high principles, starved herself to death rather than live under the rule of the Manchus. She implored her son never to serve the dynasty in an official capacit...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:November 8, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231170483

ISBN - 13:9780231170482

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsList of Bibliographical AbbreviationsIntroductionPart I. Essays from the Record of Daily Knowledge (Rizhi Lu-RZL) 1. RZL 1-7: The Classics2. RZL 8-12: Administration and Economics3. RZL 13-15: Customs and Mores4. RZL 16-17: The Examination System5. RZL 18-21: Literature and Philosophy6. RZL 22-32: MiscellaneousPart II. Essays, Letters, and Prefaces from Collected Poems and Essays (Tinglin Shiwenji-SWJ)1. SWJ 1: Statecraft Essays2. SWJ 2: Prefaces3. SWJ 3: Letters 14. SWJ 4: Letters 25. SWJ 5: Records, Inscriptions, and Other Writings6. SWJ 6: MiscellaneousPart III. Poems from Collected Poems and Essays (Tinglin Shiwenji-SWJ)Appendix 1. Biographical SummaryAppendix 2. Works by Gu Yanwu Appendix 3. Zhang Binglin's Preface to Huang Kan's Rizhi Lu JiaojiAppendix 4. On the Feudal System (Fengjian Lun)-Liu Zongyuan NotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Gu Yanwu's Record of Daily Knowledge consists of more than a thousand notes and essays he wrote after the collapse of Ming China in the seventeenth-century. For those who have the impression that Confucian political philosophy is essentially "applied virtue ethics," focusing on the cultivation of personal virtues of literati-officials, Gu offers a refreshing alternative vision of Confucianism as the art of statecraft, emphasizing the need for institutional reform, the balance of power, and the importance of a humane economy. Gu's hope for an ideal society, in which people are free from the domination of arbitrary political and economic power, still speaks to us today. In this sense, Ian Johnston's lucid and compelling translation is a timely gift.