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  • Zhan Guo Qin Han shiqi de xuepai wenti yanjiu by Li Rui
  • Ting-mien Lee (bio)
Li Rui 李锐. Zhan Guo Qin Han shiqi de xuepai wenti yanjiu 战国秦汉时 期的学派问题研究. Beijing 北京: Beijing Shifan Daxue Chubanshe 北京 师范大学出版社, 2011. xi, 381 pp. Paperback ¥30, isbn 978-7-303-13702-2.

Specialists in Chinese philosophy are concerned not only with questions regarding the contents, lineages, and relations of various Chinese philosophical traditions (e.g., Confucianism, Daoism, and Mohism), but also with the meta-question of how these traditions are understood and described. Some of these meta-questions revolve around the “school” issue, such as: Whether or under what conditions could we reasonably use the term “school” and other English terms such as “Confucianism,” “Mohism,” “Daoism,” “Legalism,” and “Huang-Lao” in describing early Chinese thought? What do the counterparts of these terms mean in early Chinese texts? In what sense are these terms misleading or inappropriate? Are the categorizations of liu jia 六家 (six schools/houses) and jiu liu shi jia 九流十家 (nine streams and ten schools/houses) heuristically useful in depicting early Chinese history of thought? While several English articles have tackled these questions, contemporary Chinese academia has maintained a respectful disinterest toward them. Li Rui’s Zhan Guo Qin Han shiqi de xuepai wenti yanjiu (A study on the questions of schools of the Warring States, Qin, and Han periods) is the first Chinese monograph-length work to put aside this disinterest and, therefore, is particularly welcome.

This book is noteworthy for its richness. It is a collection of nineteen essays, divided into three parts. The first part presents six essays on general issues. The first essay deals with the expressions bai jia 百家 (hundred specialists/schools/houses), liu jia, and jiu liu shi jia, tracing the evolution of the meaning of the term jia, which is often rendered as “school” in English. This serves as the springboard for the second essay, which meanderingly delineates to the reader how the jiu liu is a fabricated history because early Chinese thought cannot be described with the nine categories. The third essay describes and compares the features of Western and Chinese names for philosophical factions. The fourth essay draws on the transmissions, divisions, and lineages of Buddhist factions to speculate about the nature of similar practices in early China. The fifth essay introduces and evaluates English studies on early Chinese school labels and categorizations. The sixth essay argues that the bai jia categorization is better than liu jia and jiu liu in depicting the school affiliations of excavated texts.

The second part of Li Rui’s book has seven essays on circumstantial issues. The first essay discusses si meng xue pai 思孟学派 (the school of Zisi and Mengzi) and its relation to the excavated Wu xing 五行 (Five conducts) manuscripts. The second essay deals with the relation between Huang-Lao 黃老 and dao jia 道­家 and argues that there were two kinds of Huang-Lao thought. The third essay examines what decrees by the first emperor of Qin were issued to burn [End Page 192] and prohibit what types of books. The fourth essay compares Liu Xiang’s 刘向 and Liu Xin’s 刘歆 methods and principles of book collation and cataloguing. The fifth essay uses excavated texts to illustrate Yu Jiaxi’s 余嘉锡 theses in the Gushu tongli 古书通例 (General conventions of ancient books). The sixth essay examines the status of Ru in the Chu 楚 state of the Warring States period and its ultimate victory in the Han. The seventh article compares the transmissions of the Classics with that of the early masters’ texts to sketch their commonalities.

The third part of the book contains six essays of case studies. The first essay argues that the “Ersan zi wen” 二三子问 (Several disciples asked) might be a record of Kongzi’s 孔子 teaching instead of a dao jia or Huang-Lao text. The second essay argues against the hypothesis that the “Yi zhuan” 易传 (Annotations on the changes) is a dao jia text. The third essay deals with the intellectual affiliation of the Mawangdui 马王堆 and Guodian 郭店 “Wu xing” manuscripts. The fourth essay examines the theses on heaven-human relationship as reflected in the Guodian and Shanghai Museum bamboo strips. The fifth essay traces the development of the doctrines of liu...


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