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Exploring the Construction of a Category in Warring States Sources

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This article examines the category of “Master” as it was used in texts produced during the Warring States. Though scholars have generally assumed that common conventions informed the role and figure of the Master across early texts, close analysis of the sources does not support this reading. The present essay focuses upon the figure of Mo Di as it is constructed in the anecdotes anthologized in the “Dialogues” of the Mozi, comparing the social, political, and economic roles the text ascribes to “Master Mozi” with those ascribed to figures such as Confucius and “Master Yan” in other roughly contemporary writings. Such a comparative reading reveals a distinctive and salient model of Mastership advocated by the early Mohists, which in turn demonstrates that basic categories such as “Master” and “disciple” were fluid and contested in the larger discourse of the Warring States.
Cet article s’intéresse à la catégorie de “Maître” telle qu’elle était en usage dans les textes de l’époque des Royaumes Combattants. Les spécialistes considèrent en général que la personne et le rôle du Maître obéissaient à des conventions communes à tous les textes anciens, or cette lecture n’est pas confirmée par l’examen attentif des sources. Dans le cas présent, l’attention se concentre sur la personne de Mo Di telle que l’élaborent les anecdotes recueillies dans les “dialogues” du Mozi. La comparaison est faite entre les fonctions sociales, politiques et économiques attribuées à “Maître Mozi” dans le texte et celles qu’attribuent d’autres textes à peu près contemporains à des personnalités telles que Confucius ou “Maître Yan”. De la sorte est révélé le modèle distinctif et pertinent du “Maître” promu par les premiers moïstes, et est démontré du même coup que des catégories de bases comme “maître” ou “disciple” dans le discours des Royaumes Combattants étaient à la fois fluides et contestées.

Affiliations: 1: Brooklyn College


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