An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Kong Guangsen 孔廣森

Feb 2, 2014 © Ulrich Theobald

Kong Guangsen 孔廣森 (1752-1786), courtesy name Zhongzhong 眾仲 or Weiyue 撝約, style Xunxuan 顨軒, was a mid-Qing period philosopher. He hailed from Qufu 曲阜, Shandong, and was a 68th-generation descendant of Confucius, and therefore bore the title Duke Yansheng 衍聖公. In 1771 he obtained the jinshi degree and was appointed bachelor (shujishi 庶吉士) in the Hanlin Academy 翰林院 and then examining editor (jiantao 檢討) released from the institute. Not soon thereafter he left government service and returned to Qufu.

His philosophy was influenced by the teachings of Dai Zhen 戴震 (1723-1777), the main representative of the Anhui School 皖派, but also by Yao Nai 姚鼐 from the Tongcheng School 桐城派 and Zhuang Cunyu 莊存與 (1719-1788), a teacher on the Gongyang Commentary from the Changzhou School 常州派. Except in philophy, Kong Guangsen was also educated in mathematics, phonology, poetry and calligraphy. He specialized on the Gongyang Commentary of the Confucian Classic Chunqiu 春秋 "Spring and Autumn Annals" and was one of the most important interpreters of Confucian philosophy in his time. In his eyes the Zuozhuan Commentary 左傳 to the Chunqiu was very detailed, but failed to grasp the great meaning of the Chunqiu text. For a thorough understanding of the Annals the Gongyang Commentary was best, but the Zuozhuan and Guliangzhuan 榖梁傳 also had their strengths. This approach continued to be applied by later Qing period philosophers.

Kong's exegetical method surpassed the frame of that of the old- and new-text schools and made use of the arguments of both, but also took the structure of texts into consideration, as well as the newly developed philological and phonological methods. A comparison of different layers of commentaries therefore led to new findings.

The most important writings of Kong Guangsen are Chunqiu Gongyang tongyi 春秋公羊通義, Da Dai Liji buzhu 大戴禮記補注, Lixue zhiyan 禮學卮言 and Jingxue zhiyan 經學卮言.

Pang Pu 龐樸, ed. (1997). Zhongguo ruxue 中國儒學 (Shanghai: Dongfang chuban zhongxin), Vol. 2, 251.