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214 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994 would have been much more valuable if it had focused on the patterning of relational networks in Pacific Asia through a more structured analysis of relational linkages, as done in the chapters by Gereffi and McMichael. Won Bae Kim East-West Center, Honolulu $ # ® Randall P. Peerenboom. Law and Morality in Ancient China: The Silk Manuscripts ofHuang-Lao. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993. Hardcover $59.50, Paperback $19.95. Combining a close reading of the Huang-Lao Boshu (Huang-Lao Silk Manuscripts ) with recent developments in Anglo-European legal philosophy, R. P. Peerenboom identifies the unique characteristics of Huang-Lao thought by comparing its philosophical position on law and morality with the views of several classical philosophers. This study consists of two parts: the first (chapters 1-3) defines the Huang-Lao thought of the Boshu, the four silk scrolls attached to the Lao Zi Text A unearthed at Mawangdui in 1973; the second (chapters 4-7) distinguishes the thought from the ideas of several classical philosophers and considers its evolution from the late Warring States period through the Han. Peerenboom contends that Huang-Lao represents a "counter-current in classical Chinese thought" because it promotes "foundational naturalism coupled with a natural law theory." The thesis challenges several regnant claims concerning the general characteristics and specific features of early Chinese thought. Part 1 begins with a brief survey of Huang-Lao studies summarizing current debates concerning the tide, authorship, and dating of the Boshu. Peerenboom suggests that the text was probably written by an author(s) from Qi or Chu and dates from the late Warring States or Qin to Han periods. According to the author , Huang-Lao thought is best understood as a "foundational naturalism." First, as naturalism, humans are conceived of as part of the cosmic natural order understood as an organic or holistic system or ecosystem. Second, Huang-Lao privileges the cosmic natural order: the natural order has normative priority. It is taken to be the highest value or realm of highest value. Third, and correlate to© 1994 by University the second, the human-social order must be consistent and compatible with the ofHawai'i Presscosmic natural order rather than nature and the natural order being subservient to the whims and needs of humans. Huang-Lao advances a foundational naturalism in that the cosmic natural order serves as the basis, foundation, for con- Reviews 215 struction ofthe human order. This means, in the case ofthe Boshu, not simply that human behavior and social institutions are to be modeled on the way of nature. The natural order constitutes the foundation for the human social order in the more radical sense that the correct social order is held to be implicate in the cosmic order. The task of humans is to discover and implement it. In this way, the Boshu naturalizes the human order by grounding it in a predetermined natural order. The foundational character of Huang-Lao naturalism is signaled primarily in three ways: by the transcendence of the cosmic natural order, the realist underpinnings of Huang-Lao philosophy and the author's correspondence theory oflanguage and epistemology. (pp. 27-28) A strength of the book is that his theoretically systematic account of"foundational naturalism" captures aspects of Huang-Lao cosmology. The corresponding problem, however, is a tendency to oversystematize a text that is less uniform than Peerenboom assumes. For example, numerous passages in the Boshu that refer to the triad Heaven, Earth, and Humanity (tiandiren) often grant human and natural models ontological parity and depict an ideal ruler who derives standards from both. They indicate that nature was not the only model for the ruler and that it was not always the most privileged of models; nor was it simply discovered and replicated by the ruler. (See for example Mawangdui Hanmu boshu 49, lines 1314 ; 62, lines 14-15; 63, lines 1-2; 66, line 2; 71, line 1; 76, line 5; and 81, line 15.) To analyze the legal philosophy of the Boshu and to distinguish it from other classical legal theories, Peerenboom presents a thoughtful and insightful analysis of several interpretative theories of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 214-219
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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