Tang Chon Chit, an associate professor from the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Macau (UM), recently published his paper titled ‘On the Theory that “Various Schools of Thought in Pre-Qin Were Originated from the Official System of the Zhou Court” and the Discourse of the Han Scholars’ in the 2017 ninth issue of Social Sciences in China, a top journal in humanities and social sciences in China. This is testament to UM’s achievements in the fields of arts and humanities, especially in research on Chinese culture.
The theory that ‘various schools of thought in pre-Qin were originated from the official system of the Zhou court’ was proposed by the Western Han scholar Liu Xin in Seven Strategies, which was recorded in Hanshu: Yiwenzhi. Since its appearance, it has been the predominant view about the Hundred Schools of Thought and has not been challenged until 1917 by Hu Shih in his paper titled ‘Various Schools of Thought in Pre-Qin Were Not Originated from the Official System of the Zhou Court’. Prof Tang revisited the issue in his paper, arguing that Liu Xin’s theory provides the main backing for the claim that ‘scholarship originated with court officials’, which represents that Liu’s linking of the system by which the pre-Qin classics has been transmitted through learned court officials with the ancient and modern scholarly legacy established in Western Han learning. The idea that ‘the hundred schools originated with court officials’ and the theoretical intent of ‘incorporating the masters into the classics’ represent a constructive interpretation of the historical trend by which Western Han study of the Confucian classics absorbed and merged with the works of the hundred schools of thought of the Zhou and Qin dynasties. Liu’s comment is a theoretical expression, from the standpoint of classical studies, of his commanding view of the hundred schools of thought. It aimed at strengthening the authority of Han official study of the five classics. This fully reflects Han scholarly discourse under the great unity of learning.
Prof Tang received his bachelor’s degree from UM, and has been working at UM for about 20 years since he received his PhD degree. He has published in a wide range of research fields, such as classical Chinese literature, philology, and Macao literature.