Benjamin Elman, Gordon Wu ’58 Professor of Chinese Studies at Princeton University and former Mellon Visiting Professor (1999-2001) in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute, delivered a public lecture, “Philologists as Rogues? The Life of a Confucian Classic Recovered in Early Modern Japan and Its Transmission Back to Imperial China,” on Friday, November 18 at IAS.
In the 1740s, Japanese Confucians discovered a long lost sub-commentary of Confucius's Analects. After publication in 1750, an imprint was also sent to China, where it had disappeared circa 1200–1250. The commentary provided important information about medieval Chinese classical learning. Its preface recommended a medieval approach to the study of texts, which was surprisingly compatible with the contemporary research movement known as “evidential studies” in both China and Japan. In this talk, Elman discusses whether this precocious philological insight was more than just adventitious. This lecture was made possible by the Dr. S.T. Lee Fund for Historical Studies.