The Jesuit Reading of Confucius: The First Complete Translation of the Lunyu (1687) Published in the West (Jesuit Studies, Volume 3)

The Jesuit Reading of Confucius: The First Complete Translation of the Lunyu (1687) Published in the West (Jesuit Studies, Volume 3)

Thierry Meynard

Language: English

Pages: 685

ISBN: 9004289771

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The very name of Confucius is a constant reminder that the “foremost sage” in China was first known in the West through Latin works. The most influential of these was the Confucius Sinarum Philosophus (Confucius, the Philosopher of China), published in Paris in 1687. For more than two hundred years, Western intellectuals like Leibniz and Voltaire read and meditated on the sayings of Confucius from this Latin version.

Thierry Meynard examines the intellectual background of the Jesuits in China and their thought processes in coming to understand the Confucian tradition. He presents a trilingual edition of the Lunyu, including the Chinese text, the Latin translation of the Lunyu and its commentaries, and their rendition in modern English, with notes.

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(BNF), which succeeded the Royal Library. The work is entitled: Confucius Sinarum Philosophus, sive scientia Sinensis (Confucius, the Philosopher of China, or the Chinese learning). Couplet was very much aware of the collaborative nature of the work, and the four names of those who had started the project some twenty-five years earlier are listed on the cover: Prospero Intorcetta, Christian Herdtrich, François de Rougemont, and Philippe Couplet. For reasons which are unclear, Da Costa is not

monologue.”80 Zhang himself gave the Classics Mat Lectures.81 It was long recognized that the aim and method of instructing a prince differed from the usual instruction. For everyone with the exception of the imperial family, training in the classics was a necessary step in preparing for the imperial examination, with success or failure in the examination determining the fate of an entire family or clan. For the prince or young emperor, it was not necessary to learn the classical texts and their

finally to take the air in the shady forest of Wuyu (people used to go there to sacrifice to heaven and often to pray in case of a barren harvest due to a drought), singing in turn and returning joyful and cheerful.160 The Jesuits gave four reasons for Confucius approving of Zeng, and the fourth is the most important: 158 159 160 Pars tertia, liber tertius, Sinarum Philosophus, 29. Zhang, Zhang Juzheng jiangping Lunyu, 78: 仁乃吾心之全德,必純乎天理而無私欲 之累者,乃足以為仁. Zhu Xi, 86: 仁者,心之。心不違仁者. There is a

institutioni, sed inprimis adolescentiae, perapposita continentur. Confucius said: “When the younger brothers and sons of the family stay in their home, they should obey and serve their parents with the best efforts of their hearts and bodies, and when they go outside, they should respect the elder brothers who are the closest and other blood relatives, as well as fellow countrymen, offering to them their services. If they accept some work or business, they should undertake it diligently and

way, the people cannot persist very long in their duty, or they persist by force and with fear as their teacher, which is certainly a bad teacher of duty. “道1 之以2 德3,齊4 之以5 禮6,有7 恥8 且9 格10。” Contra verò si regas1 ac dirigas illos per2 unam ferè virtutem3, virtutis ipsemet omnibus exemplum, ad hoc proculdubio se component omnes: & quoniam non est eadem conditio omnium, neque esse par virtus potest; tu siquidem prudentiâ atque humanitate tuos contineas4 si modereris5 subditos per sua quemque

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