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Fa moshou 發墨守, Zhen gaohuang 箴膏肓, and Qi feiji 起廢疾

Mar 25, 2017 © Ulrich Theobald

The three texts Fa moshou 發墨守, Zhen gaohuang 箴膏肓, and Qi feiji 起廢疾 were comments on the three commentaries on the Confucian Classic Chunqiu 春秋 "Spring and Autum Annals" written by the great Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) scholar Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 (127-200).

The texts are results of the fierce dispute between the old-text and new-text schools. In reaction to Jia Kui's 賈逵 (174228) successful promotion of the old-text Classic Zuozhuan 左傳, He Xiu 何休 (129-182), a representative of the new-text school, wrote three essays, in which he defended the Gongyang Commentary (Gongyangzhuan 公羊傳) and attacked the Zuozhuan as well as the Guliang Commentary (Guliangzhuan 穀梁傳). His essays were called Gongyang moshou 公羊墨守 "Written defense of the Gongyang Commentary", Zuoshi gaohuang 左氏膏肓 "The inner mind of the Zuozhuan", and Guliang feiji 穀梁廢疾 "The incurable disease of the Guliang Commentary".

Zheng Xuan, who had been educated in the old-text tradition of Ma Rong 馬融 (79-176), not entirely discarded the new-text philosophy, but brought together the interpretations of the two schools and compiled the texts Fa moshou 發墨守 "Sending forth the Written Defense", Zhen gaohuang 箴膏肓 "Probing the Inner Mind" and Qi feiji 起廢疾 "Raising the Incurable Disease".

Tradition says that when He Xiu read these texts he lamented that Zheng Xuan had attacked him with his own weapons. The three essays can be seen as as an addition to Zheng's commentaries on the other classics, and as a surrogate to his never finished commentary on the Chunqiuzhuan 春秋傳 (Chunqiu-Zuozhuan). The existing parts were largely identical to Fu Qian's 服虔 (late 2nd cent.) commentary, but enriched by Zheng Xuan's own interpretations. Whether this statement is correct, cannot be known, but the great philosopher's ideas on the meaning of the Chunqiu can be felt in the three essays.

From the Tang period 唐 (618-907) onwards they were regularly published together with He Xiu's theses and integrated into He's texts in the style of argument and counter-argument. During the Song period 宋 (960-1279) this type of edition was lost, but Wang Yinglin 王應麟 (1223-1296) transmitted some 20 fragments from the Zhen gaohuang, 40 from the Qi fenji, and 4 sentences from the Fa moshou, which is no more than ten or twenty per cent of the original text. His collection is included in the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

The Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Liu Fenglu 劉逢祿 (1776-1829) was not quite convinced of Zheng Xiu's counter-arguments and wrote the critiques Fa moshou ping 發墨守評, Zhen gaohuang ping 箴膏肓評 and Guliang feiji shen He 穀梁廢疾申何. Further attempts at collecting more surviving fragments were made by Wang Fu 王復 (XXX), Yuan Jun 袁鈞 (1752-1806), Kong Guangsen 孔廣森 (1752-1786) and Huang Shuang 黃爽 (XXX).

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 344-345.