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The Old Text School

Doctrines The doctrines of the Old Text School represent a reaction against the perceived superstition and supernaturalism of the New Text School, and are based on the exploration and interpretation of the original and plain meaning of the classics written in the old script which was used in the time of pre-Ch'in dynasty. Although adopting the same method of studying the Confucian classics as the New Text School, the Old Text School differs in its exclusion of the yin-yang, charts and prognostications from its interpretation of the Confucian classics. In annotating, and commenting on, the old versions of the Confucian classics, the school makes use of the rationalistic and critical spirit of Hsun Tzu, revering Confucius not as a transcendental king or supernatural figure, but as a perfect man and teacher.

History Dissatisfaction with the New Text School's exploration and interpretation of the Confucian classics led directly to the coming into being of the Old Text School at the end of the Former Han dynasty (206 BCE-24 CE) and the beginning of the Latter H an dynasty (25-220 CE). At that time copies of the Confucian classics written in ancient script which had been in use before the burning of the books in 213 BCE were unearthed from the houses of Confucius and others. Liu Hsin (ca. 46 BCE-23 CE), one of the pioneers of the school, sought to gain official recognition for these versions of the classics, but met strong opposition from the elite Confucian officials and scholars and was ultimately defeated. The doctrines of the Old Text School were established in the writings of Yang Hsiung (53 BCE-18 CE), and were fully developed, and combined with the doctrines of the New Text School, by Cheng Hsuan (127-200 CE) in the commentaries on almost all the Confucian classics. It was these commentaries that were mainly responsible for the popularity of the teachings of the Old Text School and the end of the dominance the New Text School.
This popularity was not to last, however. Towards the end of the Han dynasty, Scholastic Confucianism came to be regarded as excessively complicated and subtle, and its pedantic interpretation of texts boring and useless. In the Wei (220-265) and Jin (265-420) dynasties, it gave way to a new phase in the development of Confucian scholarship, Mystical Learning (Hsuan Hsueh), a form of learning that amalgamates Confucianism and Taoism. Modern times have seen the brief revival of the New Text School and the Old Text School. The last master of Scholastic Learning was Chang Tai-yan (1869-1936), who upheld the Old Text School in the face of attacks from its rival. Today the classics of the Old Text School are generally regarded as forgeries.

Symbols The Old Text School does not have a distinctive symbol system.

Adherents It is not possible to determine the numberical size of the Old Text School.

Main Centre
 The Old Text School does not have a headquarters or main centre.