S-Space College of Education (사범대학) Center for Educational Research (교육종합연구원) 교육연구와 실천 Journal of the College of Education (師大論叢) vol.38/39 (1989)
論語에 있어서의 ‘옛것’의 意味
The Meaning of Antiquity in the Confucian Analects
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 사범대학
- 사대논총, Vol.38, pp. 21-38
- Confucianism has often been characterized, with justice, by its conservative outlook. This outlook, or the ‘love of antiquity’(好古) in the classical Chinese terminology, can be traced back to the doctrine of Confucius himself, the great initiator of the classical Chinese scholarship. Indeed, Confucius specifically mentions, as recorded in two passages of the Analects， the love of antiquity as the very kernel of his scholarship (7 : 1, 7 : 19), and many passages. dealing with other topics are more or less directly related to this orientation. It can be argued, as has been in this paper, that the prime Confucianistic virtues such as benevolence, loyalty and filial duty are nothing but diverse manifestations of the 'love of antiquity.' A careful scrutiny of the passages pertaining to the subject at hand reveals that the antiquity for Confucius admits of two different interpretations. One IS the 'historical past,' i.e., the ways of doing things of the bygone ages, especially those of the 'Three Dynasties.' In contrast to this, there is what may be called the 'logical past,' i.e., the logical presupposition of the present way of living. It is this latter sense of antiquity that serves as the standards for judging the validity of the present life. These two senses are con-ceptually distinct, but Confucius usually does not accept such distinction. In most cases, he identifies, wittingly or unwittingly, the two senses of antiquity, and for him any deviation of the present way of life from the historical past signifies, eo ipso, the deterioration of the present age. An important and inevitable question may be raised at this point as to the ground for such identification. It seems that we can and must turn to the passages of the Analects itself for the ground. Again, an analysis of the relevant passages show that the antiquity, as the undifferentiated unity of the two senses of the past, is contrasted in Confucius with the 'egoism'(私欲) somewhat broadly interpreted. In this way of thinking, the antiquity is regarded as the only possible check upon the untrammeled display of the egoistic tendency of man, In the terminology of contemporary philosophy, the distinction of antiquity and egoism corresponds to the conceptual distinction of reason and motive, interpreted at the empirical level. As explanations or 'meanings' of human behavior, motive denotes the individual-psychological meaning and is contrasted with reason as the institutional-logical meaning. Perhaps this disctintion can give us a useful guide in assessing the extent to which the Confucianistic conservatism, or the 'love of antiquity,' can be meaningful in our own time.