Kong Fan, male, Han nationality, born in June, 1930, is a native of
Casting copper next to the copper mine, boiling sea for the salt
Nieqing (hereinafter referred to as the Nie): how do you do, Mr. Kong, today is the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of the
Kongfan (hereinafter referred to as Kong): ok. I was born in 1930, in Dongping county, Taian city,
From The spring of 1974 to the spring of 1978, I was transferred to Shandong
During the period when I worked in Shandong University, I got understood more about the academic relationship between philosophy and literature, and between philosophy and history by learning from Yin Menglun, Wang Zhongluo, which benefited me a lot during my progress in academia.
In 1978, after the years of the "cultural revolution", I was transferred to
Besides, I was also involved in the study of modern philosophy, such as Gong (Gong Zizhen), Wei (Weiyuan), Kang (Kang Youwei), Tan (Tan Sitong), Zhang Taiyan, Sun Zhongshan and so on, on all of whom I had corresponding papers published; In my opinion, Confucianism is the main idea behind China's feudal society; the Confusian of Confucius, Mencius, Xun Zi, and so on adapt to the trend of historical development in feudal society and also played a progressive role in the trend of the historical development of feudal society. In the Wei and Jin dynasties, Metaphysics emerged, and Confucian rites were shocked. Besides, the thoughts in philosophy had been improved and had some sense of emancipation, which impacted the development of literature and art. I put forward that modern philosophy could distinguished between progress and reactionary philosophers by taking Anti-imperialism and Anti-feudalism as the main line, and profoundly understood the significance of the spread of Marxism in China by summarizing the development of modern philosophy. Also, I had done some discussions on the relationship between Confucianism and Buddhism, the relationship between Confucianism and Taoism, and I published some articles on the philosophical ideas of Libai, Huineng, Liu Zongyuan, Sushi and so on, and the Buddhist ideas of Gong Zizhen and Tan Sitong in succession.
Nie: Mr. Kong, the field of your scholary research is very broad, which involved all of the major schools in our country, but I think you mainly focused on the mainstream concept of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. Now, we talk about them respectively, and can you talk about your thoughts on Confucianism first?
Kong: at the opening of the conference of the 2545th anniversary of Confucius in 1994, as the honorary President of China's Confucius foundation, Gumu addressed: “about the study of Confucianism, we should combine the improvement and spread together rather than just do academic study; combine the academic research and construction of spiritual civilization, the development of noble, excellent folk customs, and the solution of problems together in the progress of society; spread the essence of Confucianism to the general public, especially the young people, to rasie their interest, so as to facilitate the people's cultural quality and social morality ”. It had three kinds of significance: first, stressing combining improvement and spread together and also specially putting emphasis on the practical significance of popularity, it naturally uses the experience of Confucius paying attention to etiquette education and improving the custom, which facilitates the construction of the current socialist spiritual civilization, is beneficial to develop noble, excellent folk customs and then ensures that the entire social moral civilization is distilled; second, it stressed the study of Confucianism, and the solution of problems in the progress of practical problems in society together, also, the solution of problems in the progress of society hereafter to the ideas of Confucianism paying attention to moral practice, thinking about righteousness in the case of wealth, and opposing seeking nothing but profits in the current market economic wave, and in this way, it facilities the synchronous development of economic growth and moral growth, which offset the negative effects of the market economy. Third, it stressed putting the spread of the essence of Confucian ideas into practice, the spread mainly hereafter to popularization meaning popularizing it to the public, especially the young. The form of popularization needs understanding, which interested the trainees and then produced practical effects.
The three significances of Gumu fully expressed the necessity of Confucianism. Here, we will talk more about the necessity of the spread of Confucian ideas. We also can divide it into three aspects. First, Confucianism accounted for the major part in traditional culture and it has a dominating ideological role in the long-term history of feudal society. Besides, its ancient codes and records are richest. Other non-Confucianism (including foreign ideas and culture) can be development by only being thoroughly acquainted with Confucianism. Hence, Liang Qichao once said that there would be nearly nothing without Confucianism in Chinese traditional culture. Besides, he also said that the existence of the Chinese nation lies in the existence of Chinese culture; Chinese culture can’t be without Confucianism. It indicated that we should pay attention to the study of Confucianism and avoid it when inheriting and carrying forward traditional culture. Second, Confucianism formed in the feudal society, and was limited by history, which played an important role in the maintenance of the feudal system for a long term. Therefore, we should address our attention to its duality, which is the essence of democracy and feudal dross. We should inherit its essence and eliminate the dross. We should deny its inheritance because of its duality, and on the contrary, we should develop what is useful or healthy and discard what is not. At the present, it can reflect the attitude of workers who researches Confucianism at home and abroad to the issues on the tradition of Confucianism correctly as they can put forward creational transformation when inheriting and carrying forward the tradition of Confucianism. Third, reasonable and positive elements in Confucianism should be addressed with special attention. In China, the construction of the new socialist culture and ethics has to refer to Confucianism. For a long time in the historical psychological structure and Chinese national character, it has become China’s national psychological structure and character. The essence of Confucianism is propagandized in simple language, which is easy for the public to accept. About Confucianisms duality, we should focus on its positive creative transformation. For example, on the morality of "loyalty", in ancient times, there was something about loyalty to the emperor, sometimes, loyalty to the emperor, sometimes, loyalty to the people, is all about loyalty to the nation; the justice wars for revolting against national oppression are examples of it. Sun Zhongshan once said that we couldn’t deny the morality of "loyalty" as the "loyalty" refered to loyalty to the emperor, and if we changed the loyalty to the emperor into the loyalty to the millions of people, it would be extremely important. However, if people didn’t talk about the "loyalty" when loyalty to the emperor existed in ancient time, society would lose the morality of "loyalty" and then, our society would become a society without morality. When Hong Youlan talked about the issues on the inheritance of social morality, he also stressed that the there was the possibility of moral inheritance between the different social systems. He once said that any society should have morality, which was the moral universality; besides every society has the morality that adapts to itself, which was the moral particularity. The universality of morality doesn’t change while the moral particularity is variable, and universality and particularity a dialectical unity. With the development and changes of the social system which forces morality to continuously improve, it represented the inheritable character of morality. If the moral universality is isolated from the moral particularity and the moral inheritance is denied, moral particularity will be senseless. The significance of the popularization of Confucianism put more emphasis on Confucian morality and civilization, because Confucianism doesn’t take the pursuit of knowledge as the purpose but takes behavior (moral Fulfillment) as the criteria for learning; the ieda of Confucianism is mainly about "the reason why people should live" (Liang said). We can say how to be a person that Liang Qiangchao talked about is in line with the spirit of Confucian humanity and ethics. The arguments that were cited from Sun Zhongshan and Hong Youlan above are the same as Liang Qichao. The address that Gumu gave at the opening of the conference on the 2545th anniversary of Confucius was in line with the spirits of the above. He stressed the combination of study and popularization of Confucianism, whose starting point and end points also lie in promoting a social and moral and spiritual civilization, is the reason that stresses the popularization of Confucianism and facilitates the improvement of the cultural quality of the people and social morality.
Nie: from your works and essays, in addition to Confucianism, the thing that you care about most is the trend of the Metaphysics in the Wei and Jin dynasties, can you talk about your thoughts and views on it?
Kong: the Qingtan generated during the period of Weizhengshi. Qingtan and Metaphysics happened nearly at the same time, the content of which was mainly from Metaphysics. “During the Weizhengshi, Heyan, Wangbi and some other people worshiped and followed the example of Laozi, Zhuangzi; they surmised: the heaven and earth all take the Wu as the basis; Wu is the basis of creatures, and everything relies on it. Yin and Yang are born based on it; creatures are formed based on it; gentlemen and ladies are formed based on it; worthless fellows will get rid of immoral behavior by it; therefore, the utility of Wu is very wide.” The heaven and earth all take Wu as the basis, which was the view of Metaphysics. Wu is the origin of the heaven and earth including social ethics. Therefore, they wrote the Laozi, Zhuangzi, which take Wu as the basis, so it became the content of Qingtan.
The founders of Metaphysics are Wangbi and Heyan. In Three Kingdoms, it is said that Heyan “was famous for his talent when he was young and very familiar with the words that Zhuangzi spoke; he wrote dozens of essays including Morality Theory on the famous works that were written by masters”. Morality Theory had been out of fashion, some of it was noted in Zhangzhan Liezi · Tianrui Pian, which was about heaven and earth all taking “nothing” as its basis. We can say that putting forward “nothing” was a big change for
At that time, Qingtan also referred to “Qingyan”, and “Xuanyang”; “Qing” also referred to the arguments of Metaphysics. In Laozi, there was a sentence: “Xuan, and Xuan again, it was the door of all of good ideologies”. “Xuan”, also named “Qing”, in Laozi, recorded: “Xizhideyizhe, Tiandeyiyiqing (we should concentrate on one thing, and we will feel good when our life is like the weather) …”, Wangbi said: “Use yi to concentrate our attentions, rather than use qing to clear the interruption.” the yi, namely the “Xuan”, use the yi to get qing, which indicated the relationship between “qing” and “xuan”. Therefore, Qingtan is Xuantan.
Hou Waiku thought: “during the four hundred years from 300 B.C to 400B.C which is called the Wei and Jin dynasties by historians, its dominant ideology was ‘Qingtan’ or ‘Metaphysics’ ”. Of so-called Qingtan and Metaphysics, no one once pointed out ther meaningfulness, namely the comprehensive repristination of Sanxuan and famous debates. Hou thought that Qingtan being also Xuantan was a good comment. Since Wei Zhengshi, through all of the DongJin, the content of Qingtan was nothing more than the various propositions of Metaphysics.
Nie: in cultural history, the Wei-Jin period is one of the most important turning points. You also mentioned the relationship between Xuantan and music, and painting during the Wei-Jin period, which inspired you very much in the later research.
Kong: during the Wei-Jin period, the ideology of music was affected by Metaphysics very much, such as Jikang’s On Sound without being about Sadness and Happiness originated from Metaphysics. Jikang was very good at tonality and could play the musical composition Guanglingsan. In Three Kingdoms, a paragraph is cited from The History of Wei: “Jikang was very calm just before his execution, and then sadly said: ‘good sound will not exist!’” . After his death, the Guanglingsan failed to be handed down from past generations.
On Sound without being about Sadness and Happiness had great effect in the Wei-Jin period. In Shishuoxinyu, it was recorded: “someone once said: “prime minister (in ancient China) Wang, thought that music wasn’t about sadness and happiness, but just benefited our life and expressed the meaningfulness of life”. Wangdao was the leader of Taotan, he discussed the theory sound without sadness and happiness. It indicated that “the sound without sadness and happiness” had exceeded the special discussion on tonality, and involved deeper metaphysical theory, so celebrities and Nobles used it to help their debates.
Jikang advocated “sound without sadness and happiness”, which was against Confucian thought of rite. For example, he refuted that “Jizi could know all of the customs from all countries by listening to their music; Shirang played instruments, and Zhongni could see the face of King Wen”. He always thought this was a fallacy and someone just confused us to prove the good music, and it was necessary to explain it. Based on this, we don’t know how it was wonderful and really wish we had the opportunity to hear it, so I very much envied ancient people. That’s the reason he wrote On Sound without being about Sadness and Happiness. “Someone just confused us to prove the good music, and it is necessary to explain it” and that means sadness and happiness were expressed by the sound. Therefore, the sound paid an important role in changing customs. Jikang adored Metaphysics that thinks the body of the universe is without sound and imagery; it lets things take their own course (a Taoist concept of human conduct), so there is no sound about sadness and happiness. In On Sound without being about Sadness and Happiness, he said: “five colors include the beautiful and ugly ones and five kinds of sound include the good and evil ones, which are natural; about loving something or not, the changes in the relationships between people are all contained in it. All of these are not about the inner, and formed naturally. The music is not about the sadness and happiness which are out of our heart. The music is just the predisposition of them. The theories didn’t touch on it so I proved it here. ”It is about the relationship between natural sound and subjective emotion. Although the music leads to sadness and happiness, the sadness and happiness is generated from the music. Therefore, sadness and happiness was generated before the music. He used this to correct it, which used Taoism to resist Confucian music theory. He denied that legends in which music could sense ghosts and gods. For example he criticized that Jie Gelu knew that his third son was dead when hearing the sad voices of cattle. He said: “it is impossible for the stupid cattle to know his son is dead; it is just because his was so sad. This was all in people’s minds. This was another thing that I doubted. Moreover, the cattle are not human so it is senseless.” The argument was very persuasive in On Sound without being about Sadness and Happiness. The cattle aren’t human, so how can they have human feelings. Therefore, it is senseless. He also criticized how Shikuang could know the wind was not coming from the south and the Chu country must be defeated, by playing instruments. Therefore, he said: “how can Shikuang know about the wind in Chu country as he was thousands of kilometers rom it?” his arguement was based on general knowledge. Liang country was between him and Chu country, so how could he know the wind from the south was from the Chu country, and how the sound of death in Chu country came to him. Jikang thought: “the wind forms through the Yin and Yang and bang against each other; there was nothing about the spirits so how was the information from Chu country transmitted to the Jin country.” It is a natural phenomenon and can be changed by human spirits. Jikang thought the sound law was affected by the seasonal weather, and thought the sound was generated by nature and wasn’t dominated by people. He also criticized the legend that Yangshe thought the troubles of her family were because of the baby crying, and he said: “it is the sound from the mouth of a baby which is the same as the sound of animals, and the good and evil of the crying and weeping sound is not from the mouth of babies. If the sound from the Qin and Se are clear or not, which is not the business of their workers.” Jikang divided the sound and sad music into Ertu, combined with his advocating nature and being regardless of law and discipline rite. Therefore, he opposed traditional Confucian music concepts.
Painting was also subject to the influence of metaphysics, which can be found in Gu Kaizi in the Wei and Jin dynasties. In Jinshu · the Biography of Gu Kaizhi, it is recorded: it is heard that Gu Kaizi had Sanjue (three aspects) in literary or artistic talent: talent, panting, craziness, which fully expressed the character of Gu Kaizi; he lead celebrities of Qingtan. It paid attention to the spirits when commenting on characters, which influenced the painting of the characters. Besides, painting the characters addressed vividness. Shiyu·Qiaoyi, recorded: “Gu Changgeng didn’t paint the eyes for several years. People asked for the reasons. Gu said: ‘there was no beautifulness and ugliness for legs and arms, so there is nothing vivid about them；the important part of the human body is the eyes’ ”. A sentence that Yu Jiaxi’s Shishuoxinyujianshu quoted from Shuchao that also quoted from Sushuo: “when Gu drew pictures on fans for people, he would give back the fans before drawing the eyes of the characters saying: ‘the eyes can talk’”. All of these proved that the importance of drawing characters is the vividness of which the eyes are the most important. Liukan said: “the appearance can capture the god, who comes from the eyes.” In Jiuzheng, it said we should pay attention to the expression in people's eyes when studying people; therefore, people should pay attention to eyes os people in the Wei and Jin dynasties, which was affected by this idea. In Shishuoxinyu · Yuyan, recorded: “Yu Zhongsan told Zhao Jingzhen: ‘ black and white are very clear in your eyes; it indicates you would become a senior general, but it is a pity that you don’t have a great mind.’ Zhao: ‘a ruler can measure the precision of how the sun operates it is just about ability and wisdom’ ”The white and black of the eyes just expresses the vigor of people. Zhao thought what Jikang said was not right because he thought he was a talent and was not limited by a narrow mind. In Shishuoxinyu · Rongzhi, it is also recorded Wangrong and Peikai’s eyes were glorious though there was illness on their eyes. In Shishuoxinyu, Liu Xiaobiao noted: “although Wangrong was very short his eyes were very clear and he didn’t get dazed even when he stared at the sun all day.” This was another example that Gukai used to address extreme attention to the eyes that was about vividness rather than legs and arms. In Shishuoxinyu, it is also recorded: “when Wang Youjun met Du Hongzhi, he said: ‘his face was full of congealed fat, and his eyes were like the round paint point. ’”This kind of description had reached a much higher level. In Rongzhi, it is recorded: “Xiegong said: ‘Lingong’s are black and bright.’” Zhi Daolin has been held in high esteem by the Qingtan’s people, so there were must some feelings about the eyes of humans from him. Gu Kaizhi didn’t paint the eyes when he painted the characters, which indicated his talent. In Shishuoxinyu, it is recorded: “Gu was good at painting people, and wanted to paint a picture for Yin Jingzhou which Yin didn’t want, so he said: ‘I am very ugly and I don’t like painting’; Gu said: ‘it is just because of your eyes, but if I outline your pupils, and paint some white lines on it, which will be just like the clouds in the sky’.” Liu Xiaobiao said: “Yin Zhongkan hated his eyes very much.” Gu Kaizhi didn’t cover up the shortages in his eyes, and on the contrary, he made his eyes very clear. Painting the people lies in the vividness, so painting the person is the most difficult. In Zhang Yanyuan’s volume 1st in Records of Famous Paintings in History, Gu Kaizhi said: “painting people is the most difficult, then it is the landscape, dog and horse.” About the spirit used by Gu Kaizi to paint people, in Shishuoxinyu· Qiaoyi, records: “Gu drew three hairs on Peikai’s face when he painted him, and he said: ‘Peikai has his own personality and was good at conciseness.’ people would feel his personality”. Peikai liked to lead a simple life with the character of Qiangtan. Gu Kaizhi outlines his characters by drawing three hairs on his face. This indicated his high painting level.
Nie: why did you concentrate on the study of Buddhism?
Kong: this was the action that I toll after accepting guidance from Hong Youlan and Tang Yongdan; they suggested that I should pay attention to something that combined Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism, or we couldn’t solve the mystery of the development and change in philosophy. Therefore, we should get deep analysis on the relationship between Confucianism and Buddhism, and Confucianism and Daoism. Before Huineng, there was a revolution in the development of Chinese Buddhism and it was the reason that Huineng put forward “Dunwu” theory. Although someone had put forward “Dunwu” theory before Huineng, only Huineng put forward new content for “Dunwu”. Huineng’s “Dunwu” theory puts the emphasis on, and takes understanding the mind and seeing the disposition as the way to become a Buddha; the other shore was in the heart; these are the significances that he popularized in Buddhism. As long as you put Buddhism in your heart, you don’t have to become a monk or a nun. Even you are in the secular, and as long as you maintain a clean heart and mind, you can enter the realm of Buddha, which was just like Huineng. “Lay down the butcher's knife to become a good person from an evildoer” has become a conventional expression widely used in Chinese society, and it indicates that Buddhism wins support of the people and became a great spiritual power to change our habits.
Nie: thank you for your unique explanation of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, which inspire us a lot.
Translated by Li Junwei.
Editor: Wang Daohang