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Grant number like: FB-50372-04

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Bryan Van Norden
Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY 12604-0001)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$40,000 (approved)
$24,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2005 – 8/31/2005

A Translation of Zhu Xi's Commentary on the Mengzi

Zhu Xi (Chu Hsi, 1130-1200 CE) is undeniably one of the greatest and most influential Chinese philosophers of the last thousand years. He articulated what became the orthodox interpretation of Confucianism, and the basis of the civil service examinations for six hundred years. As a result, Chinese thinkers since then (from his critics in the Lu-Wang School to some of the "New Confucians" of the twentieth century) operate in an intellectual framework that he helped create. One of the reasons for Zhu Xi's influence is that he made central to the Confucian educational curriculum the so-called Four Books: the Great Learning, the Analects of Confucius, the Mengzi (also called Mencius), and the Mean. Zhu Xi also wrote a detailed commentary on each of these books. My project is to provide a translation into English of the Mengzi with Zhu Xi's commentary. The Mengzi is an eponymous work that records the sayings of a third or fourth generation disciple of Confucius, who was thought to have understood the teachings of Confucius with special depth and clarity. The Mengzi is itself a work of great literary and philosophical interest, and is often more accessible for readers than the Analects. It shows a Confucian thinker skillfully blending argument and rhetoric to provide a foundation for Confucianism in human nature. This work has been translated before, but not with Zhu Xi's commentary, which is remarkably insightful in interpreting the Mengzi. The commentary also provides a broader metaphysical framework for Confucianism. With the publication of this translation, English readers will finally have access to one of the most important works of world philosophy and religion--as it has been read by generations of Chinese literati.