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270 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994 Hoyt Cleveland Tillman. Confucian Discourse and Chu Hsi's Ascendancy. Honolulu: University ofHawai'i Press, 1992. 368 pp. Hardcover $38. Chinese intellectual historians, especially those specializing in Sung or post-Sung studies, will applaud Professor Hoyt Tillman's Confucian Discourse and Chu Hsi's Ascendancy. One of the book's more notable virtues is that it examines, as Professor Ying-shih Yu observes in his "Foreword," not a particular thinker or a specific aspect of thought but instead the historical development, from diversity to orthodoxy , of Tao-hsüeh during the Southern Sung. Tillman treats Tao-hsüeh, or "True Way Learning," not simply as a philosophical system or an imperially decreed orthodoxy or a political ideology, but rather as a complex unity of all these aspects as they developed within the communities of learning that formed as both Aie crucibles and die by-products of Tao-hsüeh. Tillman refers to these social webs of learning, which he admits were never as fully organized as notions like "association" or "society" would imply, via the rubric of"Confucian fellowship." He defines the latter as "a network of social relations and a sense of community with a shared tradition that was distinct from other Confucians of fhe era" (p. 3). Tillman shows how thinkers devoted to Taohs üeh "forged personal, political, and intellectual ties in a common effort to reform political culture, revive ethical values, and rectify Confucian learning" (p. 3). Tillman rightly bypasses the easy temptation to overemphasize Chu Hsi's role in this process. Yet neither does he try to write Chu out of the story. His stated objective is to supplement the many recent studies focusing on Chu Hsi's philosophy by sketching the latter "in the historical context,of his colleagues who have been conventionally slighted" (p. 2). Tillman declares Aiat "an operating assumption in this book is that a larger than usual number of individuals and issues need to be explored in order to add depth and texture to what is known about the Confucianism of the Sung era" (p. 7). Taking this more balanced approach, Tillman avoids viewing Tao-hsüeh simply from the angle of the Sung-shih (History of the Sung dynasty), compiled under the Yuan dynasty in the 1340's. The Sungshih narrowly and anachronistically delineates a school of thought that culminated in Chu Hsi. It does not, Tillman's study shows, give an entirely accurate historical account of the evolution of Chu Hsi's ideas out of the various fellowships oflearning devoted to reviving the Confucian Way. Tillman grounds his perspective on Tao-hsüeh in thirteenth-century sources such as the Tao ming lu (Record of the destiny of the Tao) by Li Hsin-ch'uan. y m erst y Qne pOSS¡fjie weakness 0fme study is that "fellowship," like "Tao-hsüeh" can only be defined with limited rigor, as Tillman admits (p. 4). Since his Utilitarian Confucianism: Ch'en Liang's Challenge to Chu Hsi (Cambridge: Council on East ofHawai'i Press Reviews 271 Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1982), Tillman's term Tao-hsüeh has been used more frequently. Yet he acknowledges that many appropriate it "with fhe same diverse and unspecified range ofcoverage as their individual usages ofthe term 'Neo-Confucianism'" (p. 2). If one fuzzy term replaces another, then surely no advance has been made. Yet if one demanded that only discrete, empirically examinable institutions like academies, for example, be the only objects of research, then would not the data, though susceptible to statistical analyses, be also susceptible to misinterpretation? Tao-hsüeh fellowships may seem like obscure entities, lacking well-defined characteristics. But possibly they also allow the investigation of important relationships that may have been overlooked. Tillman's finely researched monograph is nonetheless an extraordinarily valuable contribution to the field of Neo-Confucian studies, for lack of a better rubric. It merits considerable praise because it is a lucid, well-organized, integrative reconstruction of an enormously complex set of personal, philosophical, and cultural exchanges that culminated in the official, imperial recognition of Neo-Confucianism , in 1241, as orthodox learning. Earlier studies by James...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 270-273
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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