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NIVISON AND THE PHILOSOPHICAL STUDY OF CONFUCIAN THOUGHT: IN MEMORY OF DAVID S. NIVISON (1923–2014)

  • Kwong-loi Shun (a1)

Abstract

One of David S. Nivison's (1923–2014) most important contributions is his work in bridging philological studies and philosophical inquiry. His methodological approach resonates in spirit with an approach to the study of Chinese thought advocated by Confucian thinkers such as Zhu Xi and Tang Junyi, who both emphasize jing toward early thinkers. He pays careful attention to textual details, is respectful of cultural context, and seeks to preserve the distinctive features of Chinese traditions of thought and avoid imposing on them western philosophical conceptions. In doing so, he exemplifies the spirit of jing, a serious and cautious attitude dedicated to a proper understanding of early thinkers in their cultural context.

倪德衛 (1923–2014) 的學術著作, 對於溝通中國傳統經典研究及西方哲學探索, 有深遠的影響. 他的研究方法, 與朱熹及唐君毅等儒者所提倡的經典研究方法相呼應. 他著重文本細節, 文化背景, 在對中國思想傳統作出詮釋時, 儘可能保存其獨特性, 免受西方哲學概念所影響. 這種研究方法, 正體現了儒者所提倡, 對經典研究應持有的 <敬> 的精神.

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1. Hu Shi 胡適, Zhongguo Gudai Zhexue Shi 中國古代哲學史 (Taibei: Shangwu, 1975), 1.

2. Feng Youlan 馮友蘭, Zhongguo Zhexue Shi 中國哲學史 (Hong Kong: Taipingyang Tushu Gongsi, 1970), 4–8.

3. Ibid ., 8–11.

4. Lao Siguang 勞思光, Zhongguo Zhexue Shi 中國哲學史, vol. 1, revised edition (Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1974). Preface, 20–21.

5. Ibid ., 360–63.

6. Tang Junyi 唐君毅 “Lun Zhongxi Zhexue Wenti de Butong” 論中西哲學問題之不同, in Zhongxi Zhexue Sixiang zhi Bijiao Lunwenji 中西哲學思想之比較論文集 (Taibei: Xuesheng, 1988), 52–55; Mou Zongsan 牟宗三 Zhongguo Zhexue de Tezhi 中國哲學的特質, 5th edn (Taibei: Xuesheng, 1978), 4–6.

7. Tang Junyi 唐君毅, “Zhongguo Zhexue Yanjiu zhi yi Xinfangxiang” 中國哲學研究之一新方向, in Zhonghua Renwen yu Dangjin Shijie 中華人文與當今世界, 3rd edn (Taibei: Xuesheng, 1980), 382–88; Xu Fuguan 徐復觀, “Yanjiu Zhongguo Sixiangshi de Fangfa yu Taidu Wenti” 研究中國思想史的方法與態度問題, in Zhongguo Sixiangshi Lunji 中國思想史論集, 4th edn (Taipei: Xuesheng, 1975), 2–6.

8. Zhu Xi 朱熹, Zhuzi Yulei 朱子語類 (Beijing: Zhunghua, 1986), 10.162, 11.192–93.

9. Ibid ., 11.179, 11.180, 11.185.

10. Ibid ., 10.161, 10.162, 10.165, 11.179, 11.181.

11. Ibid ., 10.168, 11.176.

12. Mou Zongsan, Zhongguo Zhexue de Tezhi, 2–4.

13. Tang Junyi, “Zhongguo Zhexue Yanjiu zhi yi Xinfangxiang”, 385.

14. Siguang, Lao 勞思光, “Guanyu ‘Zhongguo Zhexue Yanjiu’ de Jidian Yijian” 關於 ‘中國哲學研究’ 的幾點意見, Zhongguo Zhexue yu Wenhua 中國哲學與文化 1 (2007), 9 .

15. Ibid ., 7–9.

16. David S. Nivison, The Ways of Confucianism: Investigations in Chinese Philosophy (Chicago and La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1996), chapters 2–4.

17. Ibid ., 65–67.

18. Ibid ., chapters 8, 10, 11.

19. Ibid ., 34.

20. Ibid ., 35.

21. Ibid ., 36–37.

22. Ibid ., 91–92.

23. Ibid ., 81.

24. Ibid ., 87–90.

25. Ibid ., 141.

26. Ibid ., 203.

27. Ibid ., 138–40.

28. Ibid ., 82–87.

29. Ibid ., 87.

30. Ibid ., 87.

31. I discussed and proposed a way of addressing this potential incompatibility in my Ideal Motivations and Reflective Understanding,” American Philosophical Quarterly 33.1 (January 1996), 91104 . Although the article contains no reference to Chinese thought, Nivison perceptively and correctly pointed out in personal correspondence that I was, without making this explicit, actually addressing the paradox that he discerned in Mencius and Xunzi.

32. Ibid ., 231.

33. Ibid ., 233.

34. Many of Nivison's papers eventually published, with Bryan Van Norden's editorship, in The Ways of Confucianism were written in the 1970s and '80s. He had for several years been reluctant to publish the papers, in some instances (such as the third of the three lectures on de) reluctant even to circulate them, because of the continuing sense of room for refinement.

35. Nivison, ibid., 73.

36. Ibid ., 45.

37. I cannot resist recollecting how, the last time I had lunch with him on the Stanford campus, a few years before his passing and when he needed assistance with moving around, he asked to be taken to the campus bookstore to look up a few books. It was a moving experience to see him browsing through the bookshelves, totally immersed and obviously feeling a deep sense of satisfaction and delight.

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Early China
  • ISSN: 0362-5028
  • EISSN: 2325-2324
  • URL: /core/journals/early-china
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