Shaping Virtuous Friendship: the Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) in late Ming China
Title: Shaping Virtuous Friendship: the Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) in late Ming China
Author: HOSNE, Ana Carolina
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2011/25
Taking as a starting point his first treatise in Chinese, ‘On Friendship’ (Jiaoyou lun, 1595), this paper aims to analyze the process by which the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1583-1610) shaped the concept of virtuous friendship in late Ming China, specifically among the Confucian literati. ‘On Friendship’ is a treatise that reflects and is part of the Renaissance and humanist culture brought to China. It is, in part, a translation into Chinese of maxims by authors such as Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, Herodotus, Augustine and Ambrose, juxtaposed with ideas derived from the Confucian tradition, especially those on virtuous friendship. In recent years, cultural historians have begun to recognize how important friendship was as a topic of great interest to late Ming intellectuals, which suggests that Ricci was attempting to participate in, and to benefit from, a discussion that was already taking place in China. This paper aims at analyzing the way Ricci shaped virtuous friendship in his Jiaoyou lun by taking both paths, the European and the Chinese, but also focusing on the more or less ‘winding’ nature of these paths. Indeed, Ricci´s treatise was nurtured from different sources, which in turn implied selections and omissions. In a first section I address the less problematic aspect of Ricci´s Jiaoyou lun: its humanistic hue; in a second section I focus on the adaptation to – but also the manipulation of – Confucian values and precepts; in a third section I address a key – and debatable – aspect, that is, the idea of Ricci´s treatise as ‘secular’. Last but not least, a fourth section is dedicated to concluding remarks.
Subject: Matteo Ricci; Friendship; Jesuit; Ming China
Type of Access: openAccess