Poem as proposition in the analects: A Whiteheadian reading of a confucian sensibility

Asian Philosophy 8 (3):191 – 202 (1998)
I suggest that ubiquitous references made by Confucius to poetic songs in the Analects reveal an important aspect of his philosophy. This aspect involves the assumption that things in the world “resonate” with one another. Using elements of Alfred North Whitehead's thought, as well as metaphysical insights from the Han Dynasty text, Huainanzi, I first present an aesthetic theory along with a supporting cosmological vision that enhances our appreciation of this trait in the Confucian world. With these preliminaries in mind, I approach the Analects itself. I will isolate the term xing, or “stimulation “, and demonstrate how this term allows us to understand the function of poetry for the early Confucians. I conclude that poetry was thought to behave much like what Whitehead called “propositions”, and that this function assumes a world with certain basic tendencies normally associated with Daoist cosmology.
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DOI 10.1080/09552369808575483
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A. N. Whitehead (1931). Process and Reality. Journal of Philosophical Studies 6 (21):102-106.

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