Confucius in History and Tradition: A Historical-critical Analysis of Literacy in the Time of Confucius
Summary, in English
1200 BC., down through the Warring States period (Zhanguo 戰國) ca. 300 BC., archaeology, history and textual analysis is used interrelate the question of literacy in China during the estimated time of Confucius in the late Spring and Autumn period (Chunqiu 春秋) ca. 500 BC. For the textual analysis, books III-IX of the Analects were chosen, representing what is probably the earliest layer of the Analects. Some observations and analysis on the textual tradition of the Analects are also included, based on readings using the historical-critical method.
The research shows that it is unlikely that writing had, in the time of Confucius, moved beyond the exclusive realms of divination and elite society. Since Confucius was not a part of either of these worlds, the conclusion is drawn that Confucius, living in a mostly illiterate society, and moreover, living outside the sphere of the political elite, was most likely not literate.
- Languages and Literatures
- Spring and Autumn period
- Elisabet Göransson
- Arthur Holmer (docent)