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*The Heart is what is at the center, *Xin shi wei Zhong 心是謂中 Poli, Maddalena


*The Heart is what is at the center (*Xin shi wei Zhong 心是謂中) is a short manuscript published in the eight volume of the Qinghua daxue cang Zhanguo zhujian 清華大學藏戰國竹簡 (2018). The 7 strips (around 44 cm long) are largely well preserved (only strip one and six are broken at the end), not numbered, and there are no cuts on the verso side that preserve their ordering. The sequence in which the editors put them is largely uncontested; Zi Ju argued that *The Heart is only one part of a longer text, but there is no evidence to support this claim. ___ The text is otherwise unprecedented; several scholars have noted that its content is reminiscent of other philosophical statements on the heart (Xin 心), its relationship to the body (ti 體), and Heaven (tian 天) recorded in Mengzi 孟子, Xunzi 荀子, and other manuscripts such as the Guodian manuscript Xing zi ming chu 性自命出. Yet *The Heart also contains otherwise unseen statements, such as the idea that humans chan choose their destiny (取命). The text has no central argument, but is a collection of short statements about the heart. For example, it states that the heart is positioned as the central organ, the one that makes decisions and is in this light compared to the ruler (jun 君). This has given rise to a series of readings of this text as a political composition and somewhat a precursor of the philosophy of fa 法 (generally translated as “legalist”) (e.g. Can Feng 2019), but more evidence needs be found to support such linear identification. __ Like with many other manuscripts that characterize Warring States collections, *The Heart is better explained as a model or perhaps a teaching tool, a text clearly part of the conversations ongoing in Warring States philosophical circles (Shen Jianhua 2019 mentions this in the conclusions, but does not elaborate on the subject). The author defines writings of this nature “performance supports.” ___ For context, the Tsinghua collection is a collection of manuscripts purchased by Tsinghua University in 2008. Like many other collections of Warring States and early imperial Chinese manuscripts, this material was looted. No information was given, or has since surfaced, regarding the conditions of this purchase (who possessed the manuscripts, or how much was invested in it; see Liu 2015 for an overview of this collection). The strips were authenticated on November 14, 2008, by a group of scholars from several universities and institutions from PRC China. There are currently 11 volumes published, and at least three more are forthcoming. The collection includes an impressive array of manuscripts dated to mid to late Warring States period (453 - 221 BCE), largely of philosophical and historical content. It has become particularly famous for its shu 書 (lit: “writings”) related material, i.e. manuscripts that can be associated to chapters of the “Exalted Writings” 尚書 in light of their content, structure, and tone. They bear on the tradition of this extremely influential work, and have thus received much attention. Other manuscripts include historical texts bearing on the “Spring and Autumn” tradition, texts of philosophic and cosmological content, prayers, etc. See introduction in volume one, pages 3-4, of 清華大學藏戰國竹簡.

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