The Dysfunction of Ritual in Early Confucianism

Paperback | October 11, 2012

byMichael David Kaulana Ing

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In The Dysfunction of Ritual in Early Confucianism Michael Ing describes how early Confucians coped with situations where their rituals failed to achieve their intended aims. In contrast to most contemporary interpreters of Confucianism, Ing demonstrates that early Confucian texts can be readas arguments for ambiguity in ritual failure. If, as discussed in one text, Confucius builds a tomb for his parents unlike the tombs of antiquity, and rains fall causing the tomb to collapse, it is not immediately clear whether this failure was the result of random misfortune or the result ofConfucius straying from the ritual script by building a tomb incongruent with those of antiquity. The Liji (Record of Ritual) - one of the most significant, yet least studied, texts of Confucianism - poses many of these situations and suggests that the line between preventable and unpreventable failures of ritual is not always clear. Ritual performance, in this view, is a performance of risk. Itentails rendering oneself vulnerable to the agency of others; and resigning oneself to the need to vary from the successful rituals of past, thereby moving into untested and uncertain territory. Ing's book is the first monograph in English about the Liji- - a text that purports to be the writings of Confucius' immediate disciples, and part of the earliest canon of Confucian texts called 'The Five Classics,' included in the canon several centuries before the Analects. It challenges somecommon assumptions of contemporary interpreters of Confucian ethics - in particular the assumption that a cultivated ritual agent is able to recognize which failures are within his sphere of control to prevent and thereby render his happiness invulnerable to ritual failure.

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In The Dysfunction of Ritual in Early Confucianism Michael Ing describes how early Confucians coped with situations where their rituals failed to achieve their intended aims. In contrast to most contemporary interpreters of Confucianism, Ing demonstrates that early Confucian texts can be readas arguments for ambiguity in ritual failure...

Michael David Kaulana Ing is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:October 11, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199924910

ISBN - 13:9780199924912

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Table of Contents

ConventionsIntroduction1. Ritual in the Liji2. A Typology of Dysfunction3. Coming to Terms with Dysfunction4. Preventing5. The Inevitability of Failure6. Whose Fault is Failure? Ambiguity and Impinging Agencies7. The Ancients did not Fix Their Graves8. Productive Anxieties and the Awfulness of Failed RitualConcluding Reflections: Toward a Tragic Theory of RitualAppendix: On the Textual Composition of the LijiNotesBibliographyIndex