The Ancients Did Not Fix Their Graves

Michael David Kaulana Ing

in The Dysfunction of Ritual in Early Confucianism

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199924899
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980437 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ritual Studies Series

The Ancients Did Not Fix Their Graves

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This chapter builds on the arguments of Chapters 4 to 6 by interpreting one vignette from the “Tangong Shang” chapter as a preventable and then an unpreventable failure in ritual. It demonstrates that the passage can be effectively read as an argument for ambiguity in ritual failure and elaborates on a tragic theory of ritual in which the ritual agent faces the following kinds of circumstances: a dissonance between an expectation of how the world should work and an experience with how the world actually works; an inability to distinguish among the various agencies competing to shape the self; a resignation to the need to vary from the ideals of the past; an awareness of the possibility of failure when varying from these ideals; and an anxiety born of uncertainty.

Keywords: Liji; Tangong Shang; ritual failure; ambiguity; ritual agent

Chapter.  9794 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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