2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226


The Paradigmatic Significance of Cefu yuangui: A Typologically
Historiographical Operation of the Early Song

Chia-fu Sung

Department of History, National Taiwan University

Although Cefu yuangui is well-known among modern scholars, its practicality and usefulness requires serious historical reconstruction and contextualization. This article first discusses the naming logic of the Song Great Books in order to shed light on the possible implications of the title Cefu yuangui and its ontological underpinning of historical agency. What follows is an analytical depiction of the shape and fabric of the text as a huge body of historical knowledge framed by an elaborate taxonomy of the bu/men dyadic structure. Statecraft is conceptualized on the principle of typicality. Moreover, five procedures can be retrospectively constructed concerning the historiographical operation of Cefu yuangui. Lastly, in conclusion this article argues that Cefu yuangui is indeed a precious inventory of historical analogism, but it does not simply scatter around raw historical precedents. With its taxonomic framework, Cefu yuangui narrates stories no longer as simply stories but elevates stories to be exemplars of a modeling or paradigmatic category.


Keywords: Cefu yuangui, great books, typicality, historical analogism, historical mindedness