Now, with a new semester started (way too early, I might add…), it seems like a good time to get back into my project of worrying about passages in the Analects. 2.5 seems like a good place to jump back into the mix, and this passage gets us into some interesting territory concerning filiality and its connection to 禮 li (ritual). 2.5 reads:
translation: Meng Yizi asked about filiality. The master said, “Do not be defiant.” As Fan Chi steered the chariot, the master told him, “Meng Sun [Meng Yizi] asked me about filiality. I answered him ‘do not be defiant.'” Fan Chi asked, “what does this mean?” The master said, “when they [parents] are alive, serve them using li, when they are dead bury them using li, and offer sacrifices to them using li.”
There are two things I find interesting about this passage. First, the explanation and questioning in the second part of the passage (between Fan Chi and Confucius) seems awkwardly connected to the first part, Confucius’ exchange with Meng Yizi. I suspect that the latter long section was added to the short exchange between Confucius and Meng Yizi at a later date than the writing of the first part. Why, for example, does the first line even exist, if this was all written together at one time? No meaning would be lost if the passage began with Confucius’ recounting his conversation with Meng Yizi to his chariot driver, as he does in the second part. This is my main reason for suspecting the last bit of the passage to be later than the earlier bit. How much later? This is hard to know. In addition–does the view expressed in the later addition (the Fan Chi section) match the view expressed in the early part (the Meng Yizi section)? It seems to me there is no way to know.
Second, if we concentrate on the (more interesting, in my opinion) Fan Chi section, the author is making a connection between filiality (xiao) and ritual (li) that the author of the Meng Yizi section fails to make. Is this the insertion of a later “ritual-focused” school (maybe associated with some guy named 荀…)? Or maybe I’m just seeing ghosts here where there are really only hat racks…