- The Analects of Dasan, Volume II: A Korean Syncretic Reading by Jeong Yak-yong, and: The Analects of Dasan, Volume III: A Korean Syncretic Reading by Jeong Yak-yong
These two volumes of the Analects of Dasan indicate that Hongkyung Kim's translation project has passed the halfway mark to the completion of a six-volume set of Noneo Gogeum Ju (論語古今註 (1813)) written by Dasan Jeong Yak-yong (다산茶山 정약용丁若鏞, 1762–1836). This series basically delivers Dasan's commentaries on the Analects, but his meticulous and critical investigations about all the resources accessible to him, from the ancient Chinese commentaries of He Yan (何晏 195–249) to the views of Japanese scholars such as Dazai Zun (太 宰 純 1680–1747), allow us to engage comprehensive references to each chapter in detail. Since the release of its first volume in the Fall of 2016, this series has proved itself an invaluable contribution to the scholarship of East Asian philosophical thought by providing one of the most scrupulous and global commentaries on the Analects available in English.
The published three volumes get through the first half of the Analects. While Volume II covers Books 4 to 7 of the Analects (里仁, 公冶長, 雍也, 述而), Volume III consists of Books 8 through 10 (泰伯, 子罕, 鄕黨). With no prefixed introduction, each volume begins with the list of "Original Meanings [原意]," arguably Dasan's short notes about some selected chapters. Out of 175 notes in total, Volume II contains 32, and 18 notes are assigned to Volume III. Many scholars regard the "Original Meanings" as the culmination of Dasan's innovative viewpoints on the Analects, but at first glance not all of them seem to involve sophisticated philosophical discussions. His very short notes, such as "Zuoqiu Ming is a single person (辨左丘明非有二人)" (no. 41, 5.24, Vol. II, p. 1) and "Wei chang refers to the carriage curtain (辨帷裳爲車幃)" (no. 72, 10.10, Vol. III, p. 2), merely appear to indicate the meanings of some parts in their corresponding chapters.
Dasan's conclusive notes, however, are hardly derived from simple discussions and arguments. Indeed, these short notes offer us a gateway to the [End Page 1] profound scholarly debates regarding the designated chapter. In Analects 5.24, we see that Zuoqiu Ming considered "achieving respectfulness through artful words and a charming countenance [巧言令色足恭]" as shameful, and so did Confucius. Given other chapters that deliver this lesson (Analects 1.3, 17.17), no controversial issue seems to arise about this chapter. However, a long-term debate about the identity of this Zuoqiu Ming has continued since Zhu Xi's suspicion about whether he is also the author of Chunqiu Zuo shi zhuan (春秋左氏傳, Zuo's Commentary). Zhu Xi thought that there were two different people of the same name, given their discrepant family names, Zuoqiu and Zuo. While directly citing the texts expressing Zhu Xi's doubts, Dasan supports this idea by recognizing that Zuo's Commentary evidently includes some historical figures that "none of Confucius's contemporaries could have known" (Vol. II, p. 116).
Nonetheless, Dasan challenges this view of "Master Zhu." He argues that Zuoqiu is a historian of Lu, a contemporary to Confucius, as well as closely related to Zuo's Commentary. Dasan views Zuoqiu as a writer of "a historical record related to Spring and Autumn," rather than its commentaries, and contends that "Zuoqiu Ming's text, the earliest record of the history of Lu, was integrated into Zuo's Commentary," according to Kim's scrupulous explanation (Vol. II, pp. 1179). This view that invalidates Master Zhu's is not argued without evidence. Dasan seeks it from direct references to Sima Qian's descriptions about Zuoqiu Ming in Shiji [史記] and the history of adopting Zuo's Commentary in the system of "the Erudite on the Five Classics" in the Han dynasty. Henceforth, this short...