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SOME SCHOLARLY VIEWS ON THE ORIGIN OF THE SU WEN 2




Zu Xi (1130–1200) and Cheng Hao (1032–1085), the two eminent
philosophers of the Song era, identified the Su wen as a product of the
Warring States period, the fifth through third centuries b.c.2 The latter’s
contemporary, Sima Guang (1019–1086), author of the important
historical work Zi zhi tong jian, stated: “If someone were to say that
the Su wen were indeed a work written by Huang Di, this, I presume, would
be inaccurate. . . . His name was adopted by medical people during the Zhou
and Han eras to lend [his] weight [to their field].”, the fourteenth-century Yuan-era literary critic, noted, first,
that the Su wen was compiled by several authors over a long period, and, second,
that its contents were brought together, like those of the Li jißO, the
“Book of Rites,” by Han-era Confucian scholars who then transmitted the
text together with the teachings of Confucius.4
During the Ming dynasty, the famous literatus Hu Yinglin (1551–
1602) concluded: “The Su wen is also called Nei jing today. However, the [bibliographic]
section in the [history of the] Sui [dynasty] (i.e., 581–618) only
mentions a Su wen. The fact is, the fifty-five juan of Huang Di’s Nei [jing] and
Wai jing [recorded in the bibliographic section of the dynastic history of the
1
Han]5 had been lost by the time of the Six Dynasties (i.e., between the third
and sixth centuries a.d.). Hence later persons compiled it [anew] and
changed its name.”6



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