The Corner

Sinology Bleg

Any Sinologists out there? 

Someone has tracked down my Letter to the Editor of the Wall St Journal concerning the classical Chinese tag “Seek truth from facts,” which is often attributed in error to Mao Tse-tung or Deng Xiao-ping.  My reader wants to know exactly where in the Han Shu this tag appears.  My reference books are unhelpful, giving it only as originating in the Han Shu as a message from the Hejian Commandery to some prince:  “Study well the ways of the Ancients, seek truth from facts.” (Xiu xue hao gu, shi shi qiu shi.)  Neither I nor my wife — neither of us very deft at Chinese-text searches — can do any better than that.  Anyone know the precise reference?

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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