Classical Confucian ideas of music

Gosse, Jennifer (1995) Classical Confucian ideas of music. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

In this paper, I examine the importance of music in Classical Confucian thought. The study of Confucian musical philosophy has often been either ignored or trivialized in favour of the ethical or political philosophy of the Confucians. I argue that, rather than being in a secondary category and separate from the Confucians' political philosophy, music and its partner ritual were actually at the core of their political system. -- I begin with a look at the pre-Confucian uses of music in ancient China. In the second chapter, I examine the classical Confucian philosophical claims about music, especially their belief that, in their proper balance, music and ritual would work together to maintain order between the world of nature and human society. In the third chapter, I discuss what the Daoists and Moists thought about the Confucian philosophy of music. I show that, even though one would expect the Moists to focus their criticisms on the Confucians' political theories, what they actually attack is the Confucian emphasis on music and ritual as a waste of both time and resources. This shows that the Moists realized how central music and ritual were to the Confucian system of thought. -- In the final chapter, I discuss the theories of Herbert Fingarette and Robert Eno, and deal with the recent emphasis upon li as the central point of Confucian philosophy. Fingarette and Eno claim to have rediscovered li as the essence of Confucian philosophy, arguing that, because the Confucian notion of ritual as the centre of philosophy is foreign to us, it has been ignored by Western scholars. I argue, however, that Eno and Fingarette also misinterpret the true nature of Confucian philosophy when they ignore an idea that is even more foreign to Western assumptions than the notion of ritual; that is, the fact that music was an equal partner with ritual in the smooth running of society and the universe as a whole. I believe that, in missing the Confucian's point about music, Eno and Fingarette misinterpret Confucian philosophy and do not see its essentially political nature.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/6597
Item ID: 6597
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [88]-94.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Religious Studies
Date: 1995
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: China
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Philosophy, Confucian; Music--China--Philosophy and aesthetics

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