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The Zisizi quanshu 子思子全書 "Complete writings of Master Zisi", short Zisizi 子思子 "Master Zisi", is an attempted reconstruction of a philosophical book from the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE). It was compiled around 1200 by the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) scholar Wang Zhuo 汪晫. In 1274 his grandson submitted this book, together with the book Zengzi 曾子, to the throne.
Content of the book are the philosophical teachings of Zisi 子思 (483-402 BCE), actual name Kong Ji 孔伋, a disciple and grandson of Confucius. He is credited with the authorship of the Classic Zhongyong 中庸.
According to the imperial bibliography Yiwenzhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書, the Zisizi had 23 chapters, Song period bibliographies speak of a length of 7 juan "scrolls". Yet the book Wang Zhuo compiled is not identical to this earlier version. His Zisizi includes 9 chapters, divided into three "inner chapters" (neipian 内篇) and six "outer chapter" (waipian 外篇).
The main topic of Zisi's philosophy is the concept of sincerity (cheng 誠), a kind of mental "perfection" (cheng 成). Yet sincerity is by nature included in all objects, it is the base of the world. Only man owns to possibility to achieve utmost sincerity (zhicheng 至誠). He is thus able to display the full range of the human character and to connect the world with that of Heaven. If sincerity is made clear, the human character comes into full appearance. If clearness is made sincere, the right education has been achieved. This full human character corresponds to the Mandate of Heaven (tianming 天命) given to men. To control the character means, to have found the natural way (dao 道). Cultivating that natural way is nothing else than to follow the path of the dao. The human character bears in it all human affections, like joy (xi 喜), anger (nu 怒), sadness (ai 哀) and happiness (le 樂). In an underdeveloped state, they occupy a mean position (zhong 中), yet when all tempered to a right measurement, they result in harmony (he 和). Such a kind of harmony has also to be achieved in all strata of society. The ruler feels pity for the ruled and avoids unjust laws. He gives uninhabited houses to the homeless persons, and instead of wasting money for his concubines, he saves for cases of disaster relief. The state is like a body, the ruler is the trunk, and the ministers the branches and leaves. If the root is strong and healthy, or morally good, the branches will bear lush greenery.
Wang Zhuo's reconstruction of a book Zisizi assembles all important philosophical thoughts of this Confucian master. Yet he does not quote literally from his sources, distorts the sentences, and also makes use of books that were rated as forgeries, like the Kongcongzi 孔叢子.
There is a Ming period 明 (1368-1644) print of the Zisizi. It is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Zeng-Si erzi quanshu 曾思二子全書.
内篇 Neipian Inner chapters
外篇 Waipian Outer chapters
胡母豹 Humu Bao
魯謬公 Lu Mugong
過齊 Guo Qi
Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (ed. 1996), Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, p. 1555.
July 24, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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