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  • Micius
  • W. A. C. H. Dobson (bio)
W. A. C. H. Dobson

Professor of Chinese, University of Toronto; author of Civilizations of the Orient (1955) and Late Archaic Chinese (1959)


1. I have tried to avoid burdening the reader with unfamiliar Chinese names by substituting for them descriptive epithets such as “The Father of Chinese History” for Szu-ma Ch’ien, or by adding to them, as, for example, in “Yang Chu the Epicurean,” and “Kung-sun Lung the Sophist.” But this device should not mislead. The resemblance between Chinese schools of thought or historical figures and those of our own classical antiquity is superficial at most, and often grossly misleading. Yang Chu’s name is coupled with the maxim wei ngo (“I act in my own interests”) and his detractors associated his teaching with a life of unbridled pleasure. Kung-Sun Lung coined a series of paradoxes, of the type of “A white horse is not a horse,” which his opponents regarded as mere sophistry. Szu-ma Ch’icn is the author of a classic history upon which the great dynastic histories were modelled. But the reader should be aware that, as far as is known, there were no contacts or mutual influences between Greece and China in the philosophical age. Such resemblances as might suggest themselves therefore are purely fortuitous.

2. The term “Hundred Schools” (pai chia) has a contemporary echo in the slogan “Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools contend” with which the communists launched the shortlived “Hundred Flowers” movement in 1957.

3. E. Faber, The Mind of Mencius (London, 1882), 16.

4. Hu Shih, The Development of the Logical Method in Ancient China (Shanghai, 1928), 8–9.

5. Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China (Cambridge, 1956), II, 182.



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