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许嘉璐谈《章太炎全集》:弘扬优秀传统文化进入新阶段

中英对照版 2017年第6期 2018-05-02

太炎先生过世81年了。

这81年可大略分为两个阶段,每个阶段40年。前40年我们经历了抗战、解放战争、新中国成立,以及在探索中国道路过程中所受到的挫折和颠簸。40年的变化之大,可以用《周易》说的"匪夷所思"形容:天翻地覆啊。在那样一个并没有完全安定的时代,编《章太炎全集》无疑是天方夜谭。后40年,中国渐渐地、越来越明确地走上了自己的道路。《章太炎全集》在这后40年结出了硕果,虽然也经过了很多波折,但终于完成了这项了不起的工程。最近十几年,除了天时、地利、人和三者俱,还有一个优势:太炎先生亲炙弟子和再传弟子在。如果延后十年,整理的难度还要加大许多。让我们永远牢记那些传承章学的前辈。

《章太炎全集》的出版,从某个角度,可以说标志着中华民族弘扬优秀传统文化工程进入了一个新阶段。

近些年,各级出版单位纷纷重视重著、重译、重印古代著名典籍和本地乡贤著作。这一风气的延伸,就是更加重视现代学术伟人、革命先驱的论著。谈近代革命,谈中华民国,甚至了解中国共产党,绕开章太炎先生就将是不完整的。现在《全集》出版了,这是一个不小的飞跃,也是一个信号。

如果没有《章太炎全集》,我们不但在历史研究和学术传承资料方面阙然不具,更可惜的是对了解清末民初的革命事业、社会状况、学术水平,是一种短缺或曰空白。《章太炎全集》在某种程度上填补了这个空白。

《章太炎全集》的搜集、整理花了40年。这40年里,经济年年增长,城乡生活水平普遍提高,但是中华民族的民风、官风、社会结构和人的思维却在不断地、激烈地起伏着,曲曲折折向前。这说明我们的时代在转折。出现种种忽视文化只重物质、欣赏技术忘却灵魂的现象,几乎是任何处于转折期的国家都不可避免的命运之坎。编辑、出版《章太炎全集》尤其需要锲而不舍、精益求精。出版机构能够沉静下来,一字句、一标点、一附注,一再校刊,这是中华民族宁静反思、志存久远精神的体现。

现在出版的《章太炎全集》的水平已经超过了上世纪80年代的那8卷。这意味着我们不是仅仅承接和重复前人的工作,而是在"苟日新、日日新、又日新"。站在时代变革的前沿,就必须创新,这正是太炎精神的重要核心。《章太炎全集》从"怀孕"到"养胎"再到"出生",在众多参与者心中贯穿着一条红线,这就是太炎先生的精神。

《章太炎全集》的出版适逢其时。今年年初,国家提出要"重视保护和发展具有重要文化价值和传承意义的'绝学'、冷门学科"。太炎先生的学问就是民族绝学的一部分。上世纪30年代,太炎先生在苏州留园定期给公众开讲座,苏州、上海的青年纷纷跑来听讲。此景今日"何处寻"?作为一个被冷落了甚至冷却了多年的学者,应该慢慢地热起来。先生创造和传承的绝学,智者应该为"往圣"而继之--张横渠的22字"箴言"是完整的一体,"继绝学"是从"为天地立心"到"为万世开太平"的衔接关键。在即将断或已断的学问中,饱含着"往圣"的也就是民族的智慧和精神。太炎先生是"有学问的革命家",学问和革命就是跨越19世纪和20世纪的民族精神。历代圣贤,谁不是关注民生、关注国家,而后学有所成?太炎先生一生守护、传承民族之根,他是传递民族精神之火的火炬手。

古人常说"五百年必有王者兴",其实作为一个时代标志的学者、思想家,同样是500年才能出现一位或几位。从先秦到两汉,从两汉到唐,再从唐到南宋,从南宋到明代中叶,从王阳明再到章太炎,大约都是五六百年。我相信,中华民族生生不息,在世界变小、步伐加快的时代,也许用不了500年就会有一个时代标志性的"学者+革新者"出现。这一位或一群人物的出现也将有赖于今天的学者好好护着火炬,薪传绝学。

我们已经坐而论道了,如果不能广而告之,起而行之,太炎先生的影响、他这一支薪火就难以有继。既冷又绝的学问,知道的人少,能深入其中、跳越其外的人更是太少太少。当代在金钱、地位种种世俗生活压力和引力下的年轻人,能像当年到留园听太炎先生讲演的,全国不知有几?

让太炎先生重新热起来,是一个艰难的过程。这是时代转折中的艰难,也是文化沉沦多年又抬头再起时的必然。但是,中华文化的特点就是生生不息,日日新、又日新。回顾80年来中国的变化,看看今天的世界风云起伏,应该增强我们的信心。我们会继续努力,让中华传统文化的精神、包括太炎先生的精神,传承有人,腾飞有期!

章太炎(1869年-1936年),初名学乘,字枚叔,后改名绛,号太炎,浙江余杭人,早年参加维新运动。中国近代民主国学大师、革命家、思想家。他博通经史,精研文字、音韵、训诂之学,是中国传统语言学的集大成者。在文学、历史学、语言学等方面均有建树。一生著述颇丰,如《章氏丛书》、《章氏丛书续编》、《章氏丛书三编》等。

章太炎全集

Xu Jialu on The Complete Works of Zhang Taiyan: A New Stage for Introducing Fine Traditional Chinese Culture

Chinese-English No.6 2017 2018-05-02

It has been 81 years since Zhang Taiyan passed away.

These 81 years can be roughly divided into two stages, each comprising about 40 years. In the first half, the Chinese people went through the war of resistance against Japanese aggression, the War of Liberation, and the founding of the Peoples Republic of China, experiencing all kinds of setbacks and obstacles while exploring a way out for a new China. The great changes during this period reminded one of what Zhouyi (The Book of Changes) described as something one could never imaginesky-upending and earth-overturning changes. That was an age without social stability, and therefore there was the faintest possibility to compile Zhang Taiyans works. The latter 40 years saw a different story, in which a clearer development path of the country took form. Despite difficulties, the huge compilation project eventually bore fruit with the completion of The Complete Works of Zhang Taiyan. Among all the favorable objective and subjective factors for its success, the most crucial one lies in the fact that some of Zhangs disciples and the disciples of his disciples were still alive. If the compilation had begun ten years later, there would have been a lot more challenges. The remarkable efforts by those senior scholars shall never be forgotten.

The publication of The Complete Works of Zhang Taiyan, to a certain extent, signifies a new stage for introducing the fine traditional Chinese culture by the Chinese people.

In recent years, publishing houses at all levels have attached great importance to recompiling, retranslating and reprinting traditional classics as well as works by local sages in ancient times. The trend has then spread over to include works by great modern scholars and revolutionaries. One of them was Zhang Taiyan, whose works, if not included, would leave the learning about modern revolutions, the Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party an incomplete one. In this sense, the publication of The Complete Works of Zhang Taiyan is not only a great breakthrough but also a signal of a more comprehensive understanding of Chinese learning in recent and modern times.

The absence of The Complete Works of Zhang Taiyan would mean a loss for the academic world and more consequentially, a serious gap in the knowledge of the revolutions, social conditions and academic progress in the late Qing Dynasty and the early Republic of China. Fortunately, the gap was filled with the birth of The Complete Works of Zhang Taiyan.

It took 40 years to collect and compile The Complete Works of Zhang Taiyan. These 40 years have seen steady economic growth accompanied by improved living standards in both urban and rural areas of China. Meanwhile, the folk customs, political environment, social structure and peoples mindsets have been undergoing constant and drastic changes, moving forward among twists and turns. All of these suggest a transition period as it seems inevitable that any country in a transition period would suffer the same fate, that is, emphasizing material comforts and technological convenience while ignoring and forgetting culture and spirit. The compilation and publication of The Complete Works of Zhang Taiyan therefore required extraordinary perseverance and unwavering dedication. The great deal of concentration the publishing house showed in examining every single word, sentence, punctuation and note, and in revising every detail time after time demonstrated the Chinese spirit of peace pursuit, self-reflection and long-term vision.

The newly published The Complete Works of Zhang Taiyan is a much greater compilation than the eight volumes compiled in the 1980s because we did not merely repeat what had been previously done but kept pursuing new things day by day. That one must be innovative in a constantly changing society is also an essential core of the Taiyan spirit, which occupied a place in the heart of everyone engaged at every stage of the compilation of the collection.

The Complete Works of Zhang Taiyan came out at the right time. Early this year, the government required more attention to and efforts in protecting and developing nearly lost knowledge and non-mainstream disciplines of great cultural value. Works of Zhang are definitely a part of the nearly lost knowledge of the Chinese nation. In the 1930s, Zhang gave regular lectures to the public at the Lingering Garden in Suzhou, which attracted lots of young people from Suzhou and even Shanghai. Unfortunately, today this kind of scene is nowhere to find, but this great scholar who has been marginalized and even forgotten for so many years should be brought back into sight and become popular again. Zhang Hengqu, a Chinese moral philosopher, is most known for laying out four ontological goals for intellectuals: to build up the manifestations of Heaven and Earths spirit, to secure good life for the populace, to develop past sages endangered learning, and to establish eternal peace. Intellectuals of today, therefore, should carry forward the nearly lost knowledge of Zhang Taiyan in order to fulfill their mission of developing past sages endangered learning. It must be noted that the four goals for intellectuals have to be understood as an organic whole with to develop past sages endangered learning as an essential linkage between to build up the manifestations of Heaven and Earths spirit and to establish eternal peace. Of all the lost and nearly lost knowledge, past sages endangered learning is where the national wisdom and spirit partly lie in. Zhang Taiyan was a learned revolutionary, and knowledge and revolution were the national spirit running through the 19th and 20th centuries of China. Sages at different historical stages all showed great concern about the people and the country and then established their academic status. Zhang Taiyan dedicated his life to protecting and developing the national roots, and he was undoubtedly a torch bearer passing on the Chinese spirit.

As an old Chinese saying goes, It takes around 500 years to have a great emperor. This also applies to the emergence of great scholars or thinkers. From the pre-Qin period to the two Han dynasties, then to the Tang Dynasty, followed by South Song and later middle Ming, and also from Wang Yangming to Zhang Taiyan, the intervals were always about 500 to 600 years. But I believe that since the Chinese nation is of such great vitality and the world is becoming smaller and developing faster, it will take less than 500 years to have another iconic scholar and innovator. That can be an individual or a group. In either way, it hinges on whether scholars of today will succeed in passing on the national spirit and develop the nearly lost knowledge.

We have started related discussions but they are not enough. If we failed to spread the idea to the public and take action, the knowledge and potential influence of Zhang would be lost on the way. Knowledge that is neither mainstream nor popular is usually known by few, let alone thorough study and development of it. Todays young people are faced with temptations of money and social status while suffering from incredible stress. How many of them are willing to do the same as those listening to Zhangs lectures at the Lingering Garden?

The road to reignite Zhangs popularity will be a tough one taken this transition period we are in and the fact that our culture has been put aside for so long. However, Chinese culture is great in that it is full of vigor and it renews itself every day. Having achieved so much in the past 80 years, we have every reason to be more confident when facing todays world order. We should exert every effort to revitalize and carry forward tradition Chinese culture and spirit, including the spirit of Zhang Taiyan. I look forward to the day when traditional Chinese culture becomes ever more prosperous because of its being carried forward by one generation after another.

Note: Zhang Taiyan (1869-1936), also known as Zhang Binglin, was a sinology master and democratic revolutionary and thinker in modern China. Zhang was born in Yuhang, Zhejiang Province with the given name Xuecheng (学乘), and his courtesy name was Meishu (枚叔). Later he changed his given name into Jiang () with the literary name or pen-name Taiyan (太炎). In his early years, he participated in the Reform Movement. He was an expert in Chinese traditional classics and a linguist since he systematically studied traditional Chinese etymology, phonology and exegesis. He is generally acknowledged to be the master of traditional Chinese linguistics for his great contributions to Chinese literature, history and linguistics. He completed a lot of works in his lifetime, which were later complied into Zhangs Collected Works, Sequel to Zhangs Collected Works and Zhangs Collected Works III.

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