Conversations with Confucius: New Views on History, Authenticity, and Humanity in Recently Unearthed Manuscripts

Conveners: OI and OSGA

Speaker: Professor Scott Cook, Yale-NUS

Among recently unearthed Warring States bamboo manuscripts—in particular the grave-looted manuscripts of Chu purchased by the Shanghai Museum 上博楚簡 —there are a number of texts in which we find Kong Zi, Confucius, portrayed in dialogue with important ministers and disciples, each offering, in contrast to what we find in the Lunyu 論語, relatively sustained discourse on some aspect of ethical governance. While not necessarily revealing anything about the historical Kong Zi himself, these texts nonetheless give us interesting glimpses into what was likely being debated by his followers in the 4th Century BC. This talk will focus on three of those manuscript texts—“Kong Zi Had Audience with Ji Huanzi” 孔子見季桓子, “Ji Kangzi Asked Kong Zi” 季康子問於孔子, and “Zigao” 子羔—presenting a new reading of each text and a discussion of what each may have to offer in terms of better understanding the evolving debates in which the followers of Confucius were involved over the course of the Warring States period.


Scott Cook 顧史考 received his Ph.D. in Chinese from the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan in 1995, and spent the next eighteen years teaching at Grinnell College, where he served as Cowles-Kruidenier Chair of Chinese Studies. Since 2014, he has served as Tan Chin Tuan Professor of Chinese Studies at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. He specializes in pre-Qin textual studies and early Chinese intellectual history.  He is author of the books The Bamboo Texts of Guodian: A Study and Complete Translation, vols. 1-2 (Ithaca: Cornell East Asia Series, 2012), The Pre-Imperial Confucian Texts of Guodian: Broad and Focused Perspectives (Guodian Chujian xian-Qin rushu hongweiguan 郭店楚簡先秦儒書宏微觀) (Taipei: Xuesheng shuju, 2006), A Multi-Perspective Survey of Lost Warring States Texts among the Shanghai-Museum and Other Chu Manuscripts (Shangbo deng Chujian Zhanguo yishu zonghenglan 上博等楚簡戰國逸書縱橫覽) (Shanghai: Zhongxi shuju, 2018), editor of Hiding the World in the World: Uneven Discourses on the Zhuangzi (Albany: SUNY Press, 2003), and the author of over seventy articles in English and Chinese.