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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


“Evidential Research”(K’ao-cheng 考証 ) as a Mode of Scholarship – A post-evidential Perspective

Vol. 24 No. 2   6/1994 


The Abolition of the Imperial Examination System and the Disintegration of the Four- Class Society Social Change from Traditional to Modern in the Eyes of a Local Literatus


Liu Jen-peng









Key words

evindtial-research, post, Yen Jo-chu, Ching dynasty, Intellectual history, Book of Documents, forgery, Chu Hsi, Chen Ti, Wawng Shu-min


     This paper contains the following topics:


Evidential research as “work” The author of an historical work participates actively in the modification and development of intellectual history. The completion of a work of evidential research involves a process of figuring out the plot of a historical narrative. In order to accomplish this, the author of a history must hold conversations with source materials, make conjectures and interpretations, and exercise her/his

imagination. Her/his ultimate goal lies in creating an understanding of the past from the perspective of her/his contemporary consciousness.


Molding the Statues of Evidential Research History Many great persons have been included in the history of evidential research scholarship. By coming to be part of this history, however, they simultaneously came to be quoted out of their own historical context. They came to be seen as mere examples of k’ao-cheng scholarly discourse despite the fact that their inclusion within this category of intellectual history was anachronistic. I illustrate these points by examining the case of Chu Hsi and Ch’en Ti.


Interpretations of the Emergence of Ch’ing K’ao-cheng Scholarship

Concerning the interpretation of the emergence of Ch’ing K’ao-cheng scholarship , some interesting issues on historical reconstruction appeared. I discussed the debate between Yü Ying-shih and Edward T. Ch’ien. Their differences are not reducible to a straightforward contention over a particular issue; instead, their most significant difference lies in their dispute over the “rules of the game” for historical writing. Their debates are not just about techniques for gathering evidence, but concern basic methodologica l assumptions. The scrunity of a “problematic consciousness”, one which seriously asks questions like “What is an historical record?” “What is historical recon struction?” and “What is evidence?”



Author: Liu Jen-peng
Genre: Article
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