The Confucian Christian: A Study on the Rhetorical and Ideological Accommodation of Alfonso Vagnone’s Illustrations of the Grand Dao (達道紀言) Open Access

Wang, Jesse (Spring 2018)

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This thesis analyzes the Italian Jesuit Alfonso Vagnone S.J.’s use of rhetorical and ideological accommodation throughout his work Illustrations of the Grand Dao—a book that presents Western moral principles through historical anecdotes and short moral sayings. The book is divided into five chapters, each corresponding with one of the Five Cardinal Human Relationships (Wulun 五伦) prescribed in the Book of Rites: Ruler-Official, Father-Son, Husband-Wife, Brothers, and Friends. Using the traditional Chinese and Jesuit works Precepts for My DaughtersThe Analects, Mencius, Waiting for the Dawn, and On Friendship as points of comparison, this thesis situates Vagnone’s perspective of the Wulun among those of his Ming contemporaries and the Confucian classics.


Table of Contents

1.     Introduction

1.1.  The Jesuits of the Late Ming

1.2.  Alfonso Vagnone, Humanism, and Illustrations of the Grand Dao

1.3.  Goldin’s Framework: Paradox, Analogy, and Appeal to Example 

1.4.  Jesuit Logic and Deductive Reasoning

1.5.  Introducing the Works: On Friendship, Waiting for the Dawn, The Analects, Mencius, and Precepts for my Daughters

1.6.  Methodology and Objectives

1.7.  Organization

2.     Friends Relationship

2.1.  The Jesuit Missionaries and the Importance of Friendship

2.2.  Diverging Styles of Rhetoric and Argumentation

2.3.  Applying Goldin and Assessing Lü and Meynard

2.4.  False Friendship Involving Flatterers

2.5.  Reproach in Friendship

2.6.  Seeking Friends from Afar

2.7.  Friendship as a Means of Cultivating Virtue

2.8.  Sharing Wealth and Giving Favor Between Friends

2.9.  Concluding Remarks on Friendship

3.     Father-Son and Brothers Relationships

3.1.  Christian and Confucian Perspectives on the Father-Son and Brothers Relationships

3.2.  Vagnone, Father-Son Relationship, and Brothers Relationship

3.3.  Father-Son Relationship, Societal Obligation, and Education

3.4.  Brothers, Moral Cultivation, and the Sharing of Wealth

3.5.  Complications and Alternative Interpretations

3.6.  Concluding Remarks on Father-Son and Brothers Relationships

4.     Husband-Wife Relationship

4.1.  The Significance of the Husband-Wife Bond and Marriage in China

4.2.  Ban Zhao and Precepts for My Daughters

4.3.  Situating Vagnone

4.4.  Illustrations of the Grand Dao and The Husband-Wife Relationship

4.5.  Proper Motives for Marrying a Woman

4.6.  Ways for Husband and Wife to Peacefully Coexist 

4.7.  Criteria to Consider for a Successful and Proper Marriage

4.8.  Principles of Wives and Widows

4.9.  Overarching Observations and Concluding Remarks on Husband-Wife Relationship

5.     Ruler-Official Relationship

5.1.  Background on the Persecution and Exile of Alfonso Vagnone

5.2.  Structure and Contents of the Ruler-Official Chapter in Illustrations of the Grand Dao

5.3.  Huang Zongxi’s Perspective on Chinese Government and Corruption

5.4.  Structure and Contents of Waiting for the Dawn (明夷待訪錄)

5.5.  The Significance of Huang Zongxi and Alfonso Vagnone

5.6.  Analyzing the Thematic Areas and Overarching Points

5.7.  The Role and Moral Cultivation of the Ruler

5.8.  The Importance of Education and Dedication to Study 

5.9.  The Rejection of Violence; Appropriate Use of Military

5.10. Management of Officials, Subofficials, and Eunuchs

5.11. Concluding Remarks and Observations on the Ruler-Official Relationship

6.     Conclusion

6.1.  Vagnone’s Perception of Each Confucian Bond’s Internal Power Dynamic

6.2.  Measuring Moral Responsibility vs. Power

6.3.  Overarching Conclusions on Vagnone’s Primary Methods of Argumentation and Goldin’s Framework

6.4.  Limitations and Drawbacks

6.5.  Future Endeavors and Areas of Further Research


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