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On Ethics and HistoryEssays and Letters of Zhang Xuecheng$
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Philip J. Ivanhoe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804761284

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804761284.001.0001

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Letter on Learning to My Clansman Runan1

Letter on Learning to My Clansman Runan1

(p.111) Letter 2 Letter on Learning to My Clansman Runan1
On Ethics and History
Stanford University Press

This chapter presents the English translation of a letter written by Zhang, which contains a lengthy quote attributed to the brilliant and famous scholar Dai Zhen. The central point of the quote, which Zhang endorsed heartily, is that students need to know a great deal of technical, background information in order to read the different classics with any degree of comprehension; to study the classics without such knowledge is a waste of time. Zhang goes into considerable detail recounting and lamenting his own, mostly misguided, early efforts at learning, but then he uses these pieces of autobiography, as well as the quote from Dai Zhen, to emphasize several of his own most cherished and original insights.

Keywords:   Zhang Xuecheng, Dai Zhen, classics, learning, letters, correspondence

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