Speaker: Rudolf G. Wagner
Fairbank Center Associate at Harvard University, and Cluster Asia and Europe Associate at Heidelberg University, Germany.
This is a study of the background, impact, and cost of the “doubting antiquity,” or yigu, current associated with the Gushi bian collection that followed a strong political agenda of undoing the authority of the orthodox view of Chinese history with the authority of scholarly criticism.
It traces its background against the claims by the initiator and editor of this collection, Gu Jiegang, that his inspirations all came from the Chinese scholarly tradition to an international discussion about the relationship between myth and history and the proper ways to read myth, a discussion that had its origins in German classical philology and Protestant theology, and reached China via Japanese contributions.
It sketches the international impact of the yigu current in a case study about the strategies for dating and editing the Laozi before the recent finds of early manuscripts. Finally it outlines the cost of the strong political agenda of both the yigu current and its present-day critics by showing how the focus on the genuine/fake issue left many highly relevant questions concerning the methodology of editing the newly-found manuscripts unasked and unanswered.