The main focus of this article is the explanatory power that music has in Confucianism according to the Analects (Lunyu 論語) and The Classic of Rites (Liji 禮記), which is reaffirmed in the Song Dynasty by Zhou Dunyi in the chapters on music in Tongshu (通書, The Penetrating Book). The article suggests that Tongshu’s chapters on music demonstrate the non-linear and non-metaphysical musical nature of Confucianism. According to this suggestion, the chapters introduce a dynamic, living model for the Confucian Way, on its own terms. This musical model supports the early Confucian vision of a multifaceted person, progressing in a multi-dimensional Way within a multi-layered polysemic world. Progressing along the Way, self-cultivation appears as one’s task to develop the various musical potentialities inherent in her or himself. The article opens with the epistemological idea of “musical knowledge” acquired by attuned hearing that winds up in a creative, peacemaking heart. Next, it introduces the ontological idea of a government that models cosmic harmony, depicting the leader as having an orchestral conductor’s aptitude; last, it presents a pragmatic perspective on the idea of musical education through the rules of propriety, depicting the practitioner as a skillful music player.
- Zhou Dunyi