Research Project


Writing, Texts and the Divinatory Mission in Archaic China

Prof. Dr. Scott Davis

Research stay: Jan. – Dec. 2012

In approaching the foundations of Chinese culture, it is necessary to acknowledge and pursue the divinatory background of writing and text-making. The Zhou yi is the most honoured text in the classical tradition, but presents special difficulties of interpretation. In light of my previous research, certain organisational features of this classic have become apparent. I am going to review the divinatory background of this work, and extend the analysis to later classics that I believe were modelled on the achievements of the earlier text. Particularly I am going to demonstrate that the Confucian Analects and the Springs and Autumns chronicle in the Zuo Tradition have been the product of a classificatory design based on the Zhou yi. In so doing, I will furthermore want to explore in what way text-making in the style of these early works is particularly consonant with structural analysis such as I will conduct, and why such textual modelling reveals profound insights into a divinatory approach to philosophical anthropology of relevance to our own understanding of social analysis.

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