Han classicists writing in dialogue about their own tradition

Philosophy East and West 47 (2):133-188 (1997)
Abstract
Despite the scathing criticisms leveled at Han philosophy by orthodox Neo-Confucians and their latter-day scholastic followers, the most accurate characterization of many extant pieces of Han philosophical writing would be "critical" (rather than "superstitious") and "probing" (rather than "derivative"). In defense of this statement, three major Han philosophical works are examined, with particular emphasis on the treatment in these works of classical tradition and classical learning. The three works are the "Fa yen" (ca. A.D. 9) by Yang Hsiung, the "Lun heng" (ca. A.D. 80) by Wang Ch'ung, and the "Feng su t'ung yi" (ca. A.D. 200) by Ying Shao. All three works are profoundly critical of beliefs and practices endemic to mainstream state-sponsored Confucianism in the Han. Good reasons lead Yang Hsiung, Wang Ch'ung, and Ying Shao to employ the dialogue, rather than the expository essay. Also, the particular styles of dialogue chosen by Yang, Wang, and Ying directly relate to the specific content of their varying critiques of contemporary forms of Confucian theorizing and practice
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