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By Anne Behnke Kinney

Chinese language within the 20th century, cause on modernizing their state, condemned their inherited tradition partially considering that it used to be oppressive to the younger. The authors of this pioneering quantity supply us with the proof to reconsider these fees. Drawing on assets starting from paintings to scientific treatises, fiction, and funerary writings, they separate out the numerous complexities within the chinese language cultural development of formative years and the methods it has replaced through the years. hearing how chinese language spoke of youngsters - even if their very own baby, the summary baby wanting schooling or remedy, the precise precocious baby, or the fictitious baby - we could us check in concrete phrases the constructions and values that underlay chinese language existence. -- Patricia Buckley Ebrey, collage of Illinois

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The Huainanzi (ca. ), a syncretic compendium variously described as embodying Taoist or Huang-Lao thought, states: The substance of plain silk is white, but if you dye it in alum, it becomes black. . The nature of human beings is without wickedness, but if over a long period you immerse it in customs it changes. Thus changed, one forgets one’s roots and merges with the natures of other [things]. Therefore, though the sun and moon wish to be brilliant, drifting clouds cover it . . book Page 36 Monday, November 5, 2001 4:45 PM 36 a n n e b e h n k e k i n n ey In summary, then, early Han Confucian descriptions of a child’s intellectual, moral, and biological development are generally based on the notion that a virtuous adult is the culmination, and perhaps the triumph, of a long, gradual process which begins at conception.

Predetermined Wickedness Confucius once said: “By nature, people are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart. book Page 24 Monday, November 5, 2001 4:45 PM 24 a n n e b e h n k e k i n n ey always eclipsed by the notion that most children can be transformed by various forms of instruction. Even so, the possibility remained that a newborn child could be inherently and incorrigibly bad. Calendrics Few records actually describe how to determine that an infant is evil by nature. The divination texts (ca.

116 The notion that precocious ability peaks early and comes to nothing soon became a standard rebuttal voiced by those who refused to be impressed by juvenile prodigies. The possibility that some children are born wise also presented a number of ideological problems. The notion that a child prodigy could flourish without a teacher and without instruction posed a potential threat to the authority of the Confucian state. 117 As Homer Dubs once noted, people who did not need to be educated did not require the services of Confucian teachers and were beyond the authority of Ruist texts.

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