From “Confucian Classics Thinking” to the “Zixue Spirit”: The Classical Route of New Zixue

China Social Science Review

No.1, 2022


From “Confucian Classics Thinking” to the “Zixue Spirit”: The Classical Route of New Zixue



Zeng Jianhua


“Confucian classics thinking” and the “zixue spirit” are two extremes of classical studies. The former is the sanctified, closed cultural psychology and cognitive structure with a single orthodoxy created when Confucianism became an ideology, while the latter is new zixue’s basis in modernized cultural aspirations and academic concepts such as pluralism, openness, equality and dialogue, distilled into the holistic cognition and regulatory guidance of the spirit of pre-Qin philosophical thought. New zixue provides a classical approach that dissolves “thinking of the Confucian classics” in order to discover the zixue spirit, which differs from both the new classical learning narrative that attempts to reconstruct the classical political system and the new cosmopolitan narrative that transcends the classical context. As the narrative of classical learning, new zixue should avoid the closed loop of the systemic thinking of the Confucian classics and gradually break down rigid disciplinary barriers through the concept of “new humanities” while at the same time reconstructing the pedigree of classical knowledge within the limits of the classics as smoothly as “beads rolling on a tray,” and ultimately realizing the creative transformation of ancient intellectual resources.