Chinese Civilization

- Peter Myers, September 19, 2004; update September 19, 2004. Minor correction July 13, 2018.

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(1) The Confucian state - not legalist but civilizational
(2) Chinese Concept of Nature - not a wilderness; man holds an integral place
(3) Arthur Waley, The Way and Its Power
(4) Enlightenment Europe's fascination with Confucian China - Voltaire & Leibniz cf Rousseau
(5) Authoritarianism of Confucianism

(1) The Confucian state - not legalist but civilizational

"In the Confucian world view, the state was not thought of as a piece of political machinery for enforcing the law, but primarily as a means to encourage, spread, and cultivate civilized behavior."

History and the Idea of Mankind

edited by W. Warren Wagar (University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1971).

{p. 27} TWO Mankind and World Order in Chinese History


{p. 28} Confucius' "Great Principle" of World-Wide Harmony

Confucianism is based primarily on three great books, all written or edited by disciples of Confucius. The most profound of these books was the Great Learning, the work of Tsang Sin. It begins with the development of man's personality and virtues through the cultivation of humane and social relations and ends with the prerequisites for government leading to the final achievement of an ideal world commonwealth. When the right relation among men is established, it is easy, Confucius felt, to achieve a harmonious family, a peaceful state, and eventually a global commonwealth.

Mankind's ultimate aim is the achievement of Ta T'ung, the "Great Principle" of universal harmony. When the "Great Principle" prevails, the sage taught, the "world is like one home, common to all"; men of virtue and merit are to be elected rulers; sincerity and amity will pervade all dealings between man and man, and people will love not only their own parents and children, but also those of others. There will be care and charity for the poor, the downtrodden, the destitute. Good government will feel responsible not only to make those who live under it happy, but also to attract those who live far away. It will be a true commonwealth. Alas, concluded Confucius sadly, "We have not learned to serve men; how can we serve God?"

Ta T'ung, the "Great Principle" and its practical concomitant of a global commonwealth, was meant by the sage to be constructed in accordance with nature's order and, therefore, also with man's own true nature, which is fundamentally good and from which all his duties and rights are derived. What regulates nature, he said, is called "instructions." Man's duty, he held, was to discover the way of nature and thus avoid being swayed by doctrines and dogmas, which are always artificial, arbitrary, time-bound, and man-made. But if all follow Ta T'ung, all men within the four seas can become good brothers.

Confucius sought to create, by the unification of men's minds, a homogeneous community of all men in which there would be general and voluntary agreement regarding the objects worthy of desire and in which the careless, the selfish, and the antisocial would be subdued by the transforming influences of good example and exhortation.

Measured with the standard of perfection, of course, the sage's world commonwealth remained a happy, wishful dream. Even so, it had far-reaching beneficial consequences for his people who for two thousand years, until the ascendancy of communism in China, recognized him as their "master teacher."

{p. 29} Historical Consequences of Confucian Teachings

For two millennia the Chinese, following Confucian principles, presented the inspiring spectacle of a people gathered into one vast political body and united primarily not by regimentation from above but by a community of ideas, beliefs, and traditions. Although they always represented a very large fraction of the whole human race, all the Chinese wrote the same language, read the same literature, and enjoyed the same way and order of life.

Guided by the Confucian ideal, China, unlike Rome, did not succumb under the invasions of barbarians, but on the contrary, absorbed and civiIized the invaders. Nor did she become the victim of dark ages and fratricidal wars as did Europe. More than any large, politically organized group, the Chinese excelled in peacefulness and civilized conduct, in self-sufficiency and self-reliance, thus writing for themselves an unprecedented historical record of unity, dignity and achievement. Rome, relying on the sword, fell by the sword; China, resting her faith on an ethical ideal which had appeal for all, survived the ages.

Most scholars have preferred to think of Confucianism as a social and ethical system and not as a religion because the sage based society on natural foundations common to all human beings anywhere on earth rather than on metaphysical speculations which have tended to divide men.

Indeed, the divorcing of ethics from metaphysics was perhaps one of Confucius' greatest achievements. It enabled his morals to live on while most other doctrines became antiquated or underwent drastic changes. It provided common ground on which men of diverse religions could live and work together (as they did in China in contrast to historical Europe or India ) .

The Cultural Concept of the Confucian State

In Confucian thinking, human society begins with the natural group of men of whatever race or faith they grow up in, namely, the family; and its natural principles of love and order retain validity as the family expands into the wider associations of clan, tribe, state and civilization.

Confucius taught that social instinct and the moral sense are the characteristic attributes of man and that every human heart has a natural inclination to perform the reciprocal obligations which alone make association with others fruitful and agreeable. Or, put differently, Confucius looked at rights as merely the other side of social obligations. What was a right for one man, was an obligation for another, and vice versa.

{p. 30} The sage admitted that man's nature may deteriorate, that man may try to dodge his natural obligations, thus infringing on the rights of others; yet he also saw that man-made laws cannot force him to be decent and reasonable, that law and force are only crutches for decadent and malfunctioning social systems.

Consequently, the function of the Confucian state was not to set up legal machinery as in the West to secure individual rights, but rather to foster the sense of responsibility by every means in its power - by education and exhortation, by leadership and example - to try to maintain a high standard of social conduct. Thus, rights could normally be maintained in Confucian China without the direct intervention of the state, although the social pressure on the individual was great.

In the Confucian world view, the state was not thought of as a piece of political machinery for enforcing the law, but primarily as a means to encourage, spread, and cultivate civilized behavior. Its ultimate aim was the realization of the Confucian maxim that "all under heaven constitute one family" and "within the four seas all men are brothers.''

In accordance with Confucian ideals, the Chinese thought that governments should rule by moral example and common views on justice and persuasion and not by crude force. Rightfully proud of the unifying force of their ideals, they regarded their culture as being so powerful that, in contrast to Europe and Japan, military methods were held in contempt in traditional China.

Because the Chinese could not conceive of civilized mankind except as one and undivided, they admitted only one legitimate ruler. "As there was only one sun in heaven, there could be only one Emperor on earth." It is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that the idea of world government was taken for granted by the Confucian Chinese.

But Chinese traditions recognized as civilized only those who conformed to Confucian ethics and the Chinese way of life. All others were "barbarians." In the Chinese view of society, Confucian morality was the only standard of human morality everywhere, regardless of place or race, and they were convinced that there could be only one moral standard on earth.

Hence, the Chinese state and empire, held together by cultural rather than political or legal ties, was regarded geographically as unlimited and as including all civilized mankind. This was the Chinese theory of "cosmopolitan, ethical dominion." Their theory of the "Middle Kingdom," called upon to civilize the rest of the world, focused on the ideal of a universal state which was coextensive with a world-wide community of

{p. 31} civilized peoples. In Confucian political thought, the state was conceived as having an essentially civilized, moral, and peace-preserving function, not only within its realm, but also in its relations with other states. The superiority of wang-tao, "rule by virtue and good sense," over pao-tao, "rule by force," was never questioned.

All individuals as well as all states could become accepted members of China's universal commonwealth on the condition that they adopted the moral principles inherent in Chinese civilization. It was a barbarian's disgrace not to be admitted into the selected circle of China's "tributary" states or dependencies. For the individual, too, in Chinese Confucian views, the mark of distinction was culture and morality rather than race and nationality. Consequently, the Chinese were remarkably tolerant of the religions, customs, even laws of foreigners, as long as they did not encroach upon their own; after all, every man was expected to venerate his own ancestors and to be loyal to his native family traditions. No wonder China, in her long history, accepted alien religions and races from nearly all parts of the world, yet never lost her identity.

The Principles Underlying Traditional Cllina's International Relations

At the same time, the Chinese theory of a universal state centered in China, the "Middle Kingdom," precluded China's recognition of another nation's equality with herself. This is understandable because Chinese international theories, like most theories, had grown out of China's experience and were an adaptation to the environment in which she lived: a huge nation surrounded by many small ones. China looked at this cluster of East Asian states, some of which she had actually help,d to create, as a family, with China as the world-mother.

This family concept of international relations led by its very nature to a set of principles of conduct between states in the Chinese realm which can only strike the impartial observer as much more natural and humane than the basic rules underlying the national state system in the West, with its insistence on the legal equality and sovereignty of nations. The morality and timeless importance of traditional China's principles of international behavior can be gauged even by mere enumeration:

1. Wars, especially wars of annexation, are senseless on both moral and utilitarian grounds. 2. The attack on small states by larger ones must be adjudged a crucial abuse of power. 3. War criminals should suffer the penalty of death.

{p. 32} 4. Rights and obligations between states should be reciprocal; if imposed by unlawful governments, they need not be regarded as binding. 5. Intervention in the internal affairs of a state and punitive sanctions against a government inconsiderate of the commonweal and unyielding to moral persuasion is permissible only as an act of justice and solely to the central authority speaking in the name and acting in the interest of the community of civilized states. 6. National security can best be attained by voluntary agreements between governments and not by reliance on defense with arms and fortifications. To cultivate a spirit of international good will and reciprocity, governments are enjoined to follow the same golden rule, which assures peace and cooperation between individuals: "Do not unto others. ..."

Leibniz, the great German philosopher, was so impressed by this display of high-principled Chinese wisdom that he wrote in the preface of his Novissima Sinica (1697) that "judged by the principles of civilized life, there exists in the world a people who excel ourselves."

It is noteworthy that the principles and rules governing the life of China's family of nations were not the inventions of theorists, but the hard-won fruits of painful political experience gained during a period of ancient Chinese history known as the "era of the warring states" (late Chou Dynasty 480-221 B.C.). In that tumultuous age, the states of a then still divided China varied greatly in size, wealth, and development; but like the states in our contemporary world, all regarded themselves as sovereign equals, recognizing no authority other than their own. Conscious of their importance, the governments of those states, suspicious and jealous, constantly made wars against each other and, in the interludes between wars, formed alliances, made treaties, and engaged in trade to be prepared for future armed conflicts. In brief, their relations followed the well-known patterns of sovereign states in seeking "security." But that frantic search led only to more wars, and, in turn, led to social chaos, while the common people suffered, starved and died. Finally, in 545 B.C., fourteen states entered into a "League to Preserve Peace," which survived a few years but perished when the powerful states began to ignore the rights of the League's smaller and weaker members.

This episode preceded China's unification by Emperor Shih Huang Ti in 221 B.C., ending the "era of the states at war."

Thus, through long historical experience - theirs is the longest continuous history of any politically organized nation - the Chinese learned important lessons for the ordering of international relations:

{p. 33} They accepted the Confucian axiom that any nation consists basically of families, and if it wishes to be civilized, it ought to behave like a decent family among good neighboring families: peacefully, considerately, and helpfully, and in a friendly manner.

On the other hand, to think of all states as equals seemed utterly unrealistic to the Chinese. After all, states differ drastically in size, age, culture, resources, and population, and, therefore, differ from other states in importance and power.

Furthermore, smaller states do need protection and the most natural place to find it, the Chinese felt, was in reliance on a benevolent, powerful, big state, which is in geographical proximity and culturally related.

Finally and correspondingly, the big state must assume its social responsibilities by guaranteeing the maintenance of peace and other basic prerequisites of the international order within the orbit of its power and accepted influence.

China's Tributary System as a Model for World Order

China's tributary state system translated the basic Chinese principles of international order into practical policies. It is worth our while to study these; for in our world vainly in search for international order, the politics not less than the underlying principles appear extraordinarily timely and important for the age in which we live.

International order in the Chinese version postulated the inequality of states and by the same token excluded any notion of "sovereignty." It ordered international relations along the lines of a natural family through personal and social interaction, sharing of goods and ideas, and reciprocal bonds of rights and obligations which were traditional and culturally accepted. In the contest of such human and cultural relationships, the legal concept of sovereignty was so utterly senseless that it did not even occur to the traditional, Confucian-oriented Chinese. Since the emphasis was on ideas and mutual cooperation between states within one civilization, the question of boundaries between them was irrelevant. They were not competitors, neither politically, economically, nor culturally; they formed one harmonious family. As in the natural family, inequality of status was the natural a priori basis of order in the Chinese family of nations.

The younger and "lesser" members of the family were dependent on dominant senior members and had obligations toward them; on the other hand, the latter were, in turn, expected to be kind, benevolent, and interested in the welfare of the junior members, at least while their conduct was proper according to Confucian ethical rules and rites. If the junior

{p. 34} members violated these rules, however, the elders had the right to "correct" and punish.

In the international sphere, this meant that all peoples and nations were members of the human family, but that they were unequal in status, age, size, power, and levels of culture. Or, as applied more specifically to the Far Eastern area to which the Chinese outlook and influence were traditionally confined, it meant that China, the "Middle Kingdom," was the senior member par excellence in a Confucian family of lesser states which were all dependent on China, the "father" state, and related to it by clearly defined rights and obligations. To hold the status of a tributary state was not regarded as a disgrace but, on the contrary, as a great honor which "barbarians" could not attain. The boundary states viewed themselves as "younger brothers," as happy "children" of one international family.

As usual in a family, the "father" or "elder brother" was not supposed to exercise his utmost authority except in emergencies. In other words, the control of domestic as well as foreign affairs was ordinarily left to the individual rulers of "boundary states." Force between Confucian states was used only to secure recognition by tributaries of a new Chinese dynasty as truly holding the "mandate of heaven" or to chastize a dependent ruler who had strayed from the proper rules, thus causing disorders in his country. War, in the Western sense of the word, was incompatible with the Confucian theory which required that an unsubmissive people should be conquered by persuasion and an appeal to reason, by an exemplary display of civil culture and virtue; for the Confucian government was one of instruction, not of force; it was the indoctrination of inferiors by superiors with the rules of proper conduct.

Dependence of the lesser states found its expression not in intervention of the parent state in their domestic affairs but in the mutual observance of traditionally accepted ways of regulated intercourse.

For example, the dependent status of a tributary king expressed itself ceremonially in his acceptance of the investiture from the Chinese emperor in the form of a seal to be used as a badge of ofEice. This, in modern language, meant diplomatic recognition. Of equal significance for the maintenance of close relations were the periodic visits by plenipotentiaries of either state, the acceptance on the part of the father state of an unwritten obligation to give economic aid to the lesser state in case of natural calamities, and the regular "tribute missions" sent to Peking by dependent rulers. These missions, far from being merely ceremonial, were designed for the specific economic purpose of furthering the international

{p. 35} exchanges of goods within the vast reaches of the Empire and to diversify production.

As a rule, China returned "presents" of greater value than the so-called "tribute" she had received from a dependent state. Thus, the exchange had the effect of a subsidy to a lesser kingdom, intended to maintain its loyalty and indirectly to encourage yet unaffiliated areas to come into the Chinese orbit. Cultural attachment of the suzerain peoples to the Middle Kingdom was promoted, moreover, by the age-old custom of educating prmces of tributary kingdoms at the Chinese court and by marrying highborn Chinese women to suzerain rulers.

Also part of this Confucian system of interstate relations were the rights to mutual military assistance. For instance, had the paramount nation decided on a military expedition, possibly for the "correction" of an obnoxious ruler, the lesser nation could be required to furnish men and military supplies. The father state, in turn, would assist the smaller states with fighting forces, if their established government were threatened by internal revolt or attacked by an outside enemy.

The states regularly listed as junior or boundary nations (shu-pang) by the Chinese were Burma, Laos, Siam, Vietnam, the Liu Chiu Islands, and Korea. Japan was only at times part of the system. During the T'ang period, Japan sent tributary missions continuously, but Japan's allegiace was broken during the Sung and Mongol dynasties. In the lsth and 16th centuries, Japan's military dictators, the Shoguns, again accepted investiture by the Chinese emperor and acknowledged their tributary status under the Ming dynasty. After 1 549, however, Japan seceded for good and was afterward a passive, though very interested observer of happenings on the Chinese mainland. It is noteworthy that, in Korean records, relations with China were described as sadae, or serving the elder brother, while those with Japan were known as kyorin, or relations with a nelghbor. China, on the other hand, until modern times, continued to view Japan as a recalcitrant member of her Asiatic order.

It is apparent even to a superficial observer that the international relations which assured the peace and welfare of China's tributary states for many centuries foreshadowed policies now frequently thought of as innovations of our 20th century. Among the most constructive of those practiced for ages by China in her family of nations were the following:

1. The utilization of geopolitical proximity and cultural kinship to coordinate states for maintaining the peace and assuring international cooperation.

2 The recognition of the need of small or under-developed countries

{p. 36} for military, economic, and educational aid from the more powerful, wealthier, and more advanced members of the international community.

3. The creation of a common market binding together states having similar economic interests to avoid economic wastage and cut-throat competition. In China's tributary system, the merchants who accompanied the tributary mission to Peking were allowed to import their goods duty free.

4. The use of border states as buffers for defending the realm against invaders. Highly informative regarding this security function of border states was the statement made by China's foreign minister Li Hung-chang in 1883:

. . . the limits of the empire were well defined. Here was China and there were the tributaries of China. These tributaries were self-govern- ing except in the fact that they owed the Emperor an allegiance which was satisfied by acts of tribute and ceremony. These offices done, the Emperor never interfered in their internal affairs. At the same time their independence concerned China and she could not be insensible to any attack upon it.

Pointing in the same direction was the practice, customary upon the death of the monarch of a lesser kingdom, of his successor's sending a petition to the Chinese emperor asking him for confirmation of his succession to the throne as a guard on the frontier of the empire. The emperor know the value of small states as "fences" against foreign invaders. He knew also that only if the lesser governments were genuinely loyal would the "fence" be sturdy and protective. There is, therefore, no need to doubt the sincerity of the assurance of a high Chinese official made, in this instance, to Korea;

Korea is a state tributary of our Empire . . . the throne has always looked upon her happiness and her sorrow with the same interest as upon those of our own family.

Even if we take for granted the political interest of the "Son of Heaven" in treating the lesser states with consideration, the question still remains open whether or not the latter found the relationship with the "father" state not also advantageous for themselves. Were they really happy, did they not find the burden of their tributary obligations onerous, did they not feel their unequal dependent status grossly humiliating and a good reason for seeking complete independence?

Surprisingly, the historical record testifies that the boundary states were not only satisfied but also proud of the tributary relationship and had no intention to cut the ties which bound them to the Celestial Empire.

{p. 37} For example, in 1591, Hideyoshi, the Japanese military dictator, tried to persuade the Korean king to ally himself with Japan against China; the request was rejected by the Korean monarch with passionate indignation:

You stated in your letter that you were planning to invade the paramount nation (China) and requested that our Kingdom (Korea) join in your military undertaking. ... We cannot even understand how you have dared to plan such an undertaking and make such a request of us. For thousands of years from the time of yore when Chi-tzu, the founder of the Kingdom of Korea, received the investiture from the Chou dynasty, up to our own time our Kingdom has always been known as a nation of righteousness. ... The relation of ruler and subject has been strictly observed between the paramount nation and our own Kingdom . . . generation after generation we have reverently adhered and attended to all duties and obligations due from a tributary state of Chung Chao (China). ... Our two nations have acted as a single family maintaining the relationship of father and son as well as that of ruler and subject. ... We shall certainly not desert "our lord and father" nation. Moreover to invade another nation is an act of which men of culture and intellectual attainment should feel ashamed. . We would conclude this letter by saying that your proposed under taking is the most reckless, imprudent, and daring of anyf which we have ever heard.

The same profound respect for the father nation and his genuine pride in being a member of China's civilized family of nations is expressed by a Korean author:

Our ceremonies, our enjoyments, our laws, our usages, our dress, our literature, our foods have all followed after the models of China. The (five) great relationships shine forth from those above and the teachings pass down to those below making the force of our custorns like to that of the Flowery Lord; so that the Chinese themselves praise us saying "Korea is little China."

History would scarcely support the argument that other tributary states were unwilling members of the system. True, the Vietnamese bolted the Empire in 939 A.D. when the Chinese tried to destroy Vietnam's autonomy and national identity by governing the country directly as one of their provinces. But by so doing they caused a violent patriotic rebellion which soon persuaded the Chinese emperor to grant Vietnam "independence" within the Chinese tributary system. Interestingly, the small country then continued peaceably in this state for 1,000 years until the French set out to impose their sovereignty on the Vietnamese colony-to-be. The result of French actions was an undeclared war lasting four

{p. 38} years (1882-1885) in which the Vietnamese, together with the Chinese, fought fiercely but unsuccessfully against the modern weaponry of the French invaders.

(2) Chinese Concept of Nature - not a wilderness; man holds an integral place

Derk Bodde, China's Cultural Tradition: What and Wither? (Dryden Press, Hinsdale, Il., 1957).

{p. 31} 1 The Taoist View of Nature

{p. 32} Throughout Chinese poetry and painting we find this same awareness of the beauty and mystery of Nature - always, however, a Nature in which man holds an integral but not assertive place. Never, on the one hand, are the mountains, rivers, and forest of the great Chinese landscape painters mere decorative backdrops for man and his activities, as so often in preromantic Western art; equally never, on the other hand, do they consist simply of empty and seemingly uninhabited wildernesses. Always they are peopled by human figures, tiny yet distinct: a fisherman in his boat, a woodcutter, a cowherd, a recluse sitting in contemplation on a rock. ( See Plate 2. ) So too in the paintings of animals, birds, insects, and plants, in which the Chinese excel: always these creatures must be shown alive and in their natural surroundings; never as the string of slaughtered game, the platter of plucked fruit, the bowl of cut flowers so beloved by the Western painter of still life. ( See Plate 3. )

With this Chinese attitude toward nature it is instructive to compare the attitudes found in the premodern West. Concerning the Greeks and Romans we are told by Irving Babbitt, for example:

{quote} Nature interests them as a rule less for its own sake than as a background for human action; and when they are concerned primarily with nature, it is a nature that has been acted on by man. They have a positive shrinking from wild and uncultivated nature. {endquote}

Concerning the Middle Ages:

No man who knows the facts would assert for a moment that the man of the Middle Ages was incapable of looking on nature with other feelings than those of ascetic distrust. It is none the less true that the man of the Middle Ages often saw in nature not merely something alien but a positive temptation and peril of the spirit. In his attitude towards nature as in other respects Petrarch [104-14] is usually accounted the first modern. He did what no man of the mediaeval period is supposed to have done before him, or indeed what scarcely any man of classical antiquity did: he ascended a mountain out of sheer curiosity and simply to enjoy the view.

And concerning the age of neoclassicism:

An age that aims first of all at urbanity must necessarily be more urban than rural in its predilections. ... Wild nature the neo-classicist finds simply repellant. Mountains he looks upon as "earth's dishonor and encumbring load." The Alps were regarded as the place where Nature swept up the rubbish of the earth to clear the plains of Lombardy.76

76 Irving Babbitt, Rousseau and Romanticism (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1919), pp. 270, 272-274. Apropos Babbitt's reference to urbanity, it is instructive to note that our word "civilization" goes back to a Latin root having to do with citizen and city, whereas the Chinese equivaient, wen-hua, literally means "the transforming influence of literature." For us, in other words, the prime factor in civilization is urbanization; for the Chinese, it is the art of writing.

{p. 33} Even with the coming of romanticism, the Western approach to nature never really coincided with that of the Chinese. For though it expressed genuine love for nature, it also commonly sought to exalt human personality by demonstrating man's command over nature. In China, on the other hand, people have been climbing mountains from times immemorial simply because it was natural and pleasing to them to do so; no one, however, would ever have dreamed of ascending an Everest because by so doing he would achieve what no man had ever achieved before.

The roots of the attitude we have been describing lie in philosophical (not religious ) Taoism, and it is in this philosophy that we must look for the imaginative, spontaneous, and poetic aspects of the Chinese mind - the rich results of which in art and literature, would be well worth exploring in detail if space permitted. Here, for example, is the way Chuang Tzu (ca. 369-ca. 286 B.C.) describes what he calls "Earth's music":

{quote} The breath of this Great Lump [the terrestrial earth] is called the wind. At t;ml it remains inactive, but when it acts, angry sounds come forth from every aperture. Is it only you, then, who has not heard its growing roar? The imposing forms the mountain forest, the apertures and cavities in huge trees many a span girth: these are like nostrils, like mouths, Ijke ears, like beam sockets, like goblet like mortars, like pools, like puddles. Into them goes the wind, making sounds rushin water, of whizzing arrows, of scolding, of breathing, of shouting, of cryin of deep wailing, of moaning agony. Some sounds are shrill, some deep. Gentle winds produce minor harmonies; violent winds, major ones. When the fierce gusts pass away, all the apertures are empty and still. Is it only you, then, who have not seen the bending and quivering of the branches and leaves? {endquote}

And here is Chuang Tzu's allegory of the autumn floods:

{quote} It was the time when the autumn floods come down. A hundred streams swelled the River, that spread and spread till from shore to shore, nay from island to island so great was the distance that one could not tell horse from bull. At this the God of the River felt extremely pleased with himself. It seemed to him that all lovely things under heaven had submitted to his power. He wal.dered down-strean going further and further to the east, till at last he came to the sea. He gazed eastwards, but could discern no end to the waters. Then this God of the River began to turn his head, peering this way and that, till at last, addressing the God of the Sea, he said with a deep sigh: "There is a proverb which says, 'Though of teachings one hundred he has heard, yet in them he finds nothing equal to himself.' I fear this indeed applies to me." {endquote}

The relativity of all things, symbolized by this story, leads naturally to Chuan Tzu's mysticism, as expressed in his famous anecdote of himself and the butterfly:

{p. 34} {quote} Once I, Chuang Chou, dreamt of being a butterfly; a butterfly that flitted hither and thither, enjoying itself as it wished. Nor did it know that it was Chuang Chou. But suddenly, awakening, there, amazingly, was Chuang Chou. Now know I not: Is it really Chuang Chou who was dreaming he was a butterfly? Or is it the butterfly dreaming it is Chuang Chou? {endquote}

It is very doubtful whether many farmers, Chinese or otherwise, would think of themselves as butterflies. And yet there is a very real connection between this kind of thinking and the lives of those innumerable inarticulate and illiterate peasants who have always formed the basis of the Chinese social pyramid. For, whereas Greek philosophy sprang from the mercantile life of the Greek city states, Chinese philosophy, like Chinese society generally, has always been rooted in the soil. In the words of Fung Yu-lan:

{quote} Although the "scholars" did not actually cultivate the land themselves, yet since they were usually landlords, their fortunes were tied up with agriculture. A good or bad harvest meant their good or bad fortune, and therefore their reaction to the universe and their outlook on life were essentially those of the farmer. In addition their education gave them the power to express what an actual farmer felt but was incapable of expressing himself. This expression took the form of Chinese philosophy, literature, and art. ... Taoism and Confucianism ... are poles apart from one another, yet they are also the two poles of one and the same axis. They both express, in one way or another, the aspirations and inspirations of the farmer. {endquote}

2 Chinese Cosmological Thinking

Besides the Taoist approach to nature, there is another which is less poetic, more mechanistic, perhaps more "scientific," and which centers around the cosmological theories associated with the Yin and Yang and the Five Elements. The Yin and Yang are the two primary principles, or forces, of the universe, eternally interacting with each other, yet at the same time eternally opposed. With them many qualities and things are correlated, including the following:

Yang principle: brightness, heat, dryness, hardness, activity, masculinity, Heaven, sun, south, above, roundness, odd numbers.

Yin principle: darkness, cold, wetness, softness, quiescence, femininity, Earth, moon, north, below, squareness, even numbers.

Just as all life results from the interactions of male and female, so all universal phenomena result from the interactions of these two cosmic principles. Yet it is evident from the early graphs for the words (rainclouds for the Yin, sunrays for the Yang) that meteorological conditions and not the sexual analogy dominated the minds of the unknown originators of the Yin-Yang conception. Even today, in fact, the meteorological associations remain strong. The alternation of day and night, the ebb and flow of the tides, and, above all, the yearly round of the seasons through alternating phases of heat and cold, light and darkness, growth and decay: all these represent the Yin and Yang in their eternal interplay. In this cosmic symphony neither the one nor the other ever permanently triumphs; each grows from the other and needs the other as its partner in order to generate the

{p. 35} universe as we find it. That is why, in the Yin-Yang symbol which occurs frequently in Chinese art, a black dot appears within the light-colored Yang, symbolic of the embryonic Yin, and a light dot within the dark-colored Yin, symbolic of the embryonic Yang.

That this concept is still alive in the modern Far East is shown by the fa that the Yin-Yang symbol forms the central emblem on the flag of the Republic South Korea. Curiously enough, it has also crossed the Pacific to this country become the insignia of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Though the Yin and Yang definitely complement each other, Chinese think nevertheless generally agree that the former is always subordinate to the latter. Tung Chung-shu (179?-104? B.C.), for example, regards the inequality betwe the two as cosmic justification for the inequalities within the human social ord er. "The ruler," he writes, "is Yang, the subject Yin; the father is Yang, the son Yi the husband is Yang, the wife Yin." In this insistence on mutual reciprocity coupled with mutual inequality, we come upon one of the most conspicuous themes in Chinese philosophical thinking:

{quote} Chinese philosophy is filled with dualisms in which, however, their two component elements are usually regarded as complementary and mutually necessary rather than as hostile and incompatible. A common feature of Chinese dualism furthermore, is that one of their two elements should be held in higher rega than the other. Here . . ., therefore, we have an expression of the [preval Chinese] concept of harmony based upon hierarchical difference.83 {endquote}

It is important, therefore, to distinguish between this Chinese kind of dualism and the superficially similar dualisms of light and darkness, good and evil, God and the Devil, and so on, common to the ancient Near East and to our own Western world. The latest of several scholars to call attention to this difference is the British historian of Chinese science, Joseph Needham of Cambridge Uversity:84

{quote} Another very common suggestion has been that the Yin-Yang dualism Chinese thought . . . was an importation of Iranian origin. Originally meaning the "shady side" and the "sunny side" of hills or houses, the words suddenly appear as philosophical terms about the 4th century B.C., Yin standing for dark, weak; female, night, moon and so on; and Yang standing for bright, strong, male, day, sun, etc. - from these categories an elaborate theory of Nature grew up. A superficial similarity with Zoroastrianism is obvious, but I entirely agree with Waley

83. D. Bodde, "Harmony and Confict in Chinese Philosophy, in Arthur F. Wright, ed., studies in Chinese Thought (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953), p. 54. 84. Joseph Needharn, Science and Civilisation in China (2 vols. to date; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1954, 1956), I, 153-154.

{p. 36} his rejection of any direct influence. "In Zoroastrianism," he says, "darkness is essentially evil; the principle of light, essentially good. But the fundamental conception of Yin and Yang was quite different; they were two independent and complementary facets of existence, and the aim of the Yin-Yang philosophers was not the triurnph of light, but the attainment in human life of perfect balance between the two principles. 85 {endquote}

It is instructive to compare this conception with the vulgarization that developed within religious Taoism, in which, as pointed out by Schuyler Cammann of the University of Pennsylvania, the Yin came to be regarded as a positive force for evil:

{quote} By the later Han dynasty [A.D. 25-220], . . . the mystical strain [in earl Taoism] began to be replaced by another with a great emphasis on magic. The latter soon evolved into a popular faith much concerned with the pursuit of long life, . . . and with means for procuring release from evil influences that were thought to be generated by the Yin principle. For these magical-minded Taoists, the Yang and the Yin, instead of representing the active and passive forces lf nature in harmonious relationship, had come to be considered as the very essence of good and evil, respectively. ...

Diseases and the evil spirits who strove to shorten the span of life were also believed to be embodiments of the Yin. Thus, anything associated with the opposing Yang principle was believed to have great power as a counteracting force and demon-repellant. For this reason, anything colored red (the Yang color) was considered as especially auspicious. ...

The evil forces of Yin were collectively expressed in the early Taoist iconography by small demons, or kuei, and an even more demoniac figure, by the name of Chung K'uei, was devised to keep the latter in check. Until recent years his picture alone was considered a powerful symbol for exorcising evil. {endquote}

A look at our Plate 1 should convince any reader of Chung K'uei's efflcacy as a demon repeller.

Returning to the Chinese cosmologists, we find that the theories of the Five Elements hold quite as important a place in their thinking as those connected with the Yin and Yang. These Five Elements consist of wood (symbolic of plant growth ), fire ( essence of the Yang ), earth or soil, metal, and water ( essence of the Yin). Through the interactions of the Yin and Yang, matter comes to be differentiated into the Five Elements; these in turn interact to produce the multiplicity of existing things, all of which, therefore, pertain to one or another of the elements, or represent varying combinations of them. Here, then, we find yet another conspicuous characteristic of the Chinese mind: that termed by Joseph Needham correlative thinking. By this phrase he means its tendency to group all things and ideas, natural and human alike, into neatly arranged sets of numerical categories, among which those in fives, owing to the importance of the Five Elements, are by far the most numerous. ...

85 Needham is here quoting from Arthur Waley, The Way and Its Power (London: Allen & Unwin, 1934), p. 112.


(3) Arthur Waley, The Way and Its Power (George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1934).

{p. 110} 2. - Yin and Yang

These terms mean literally 'dark side' and 'sunny side' of a hill. Hence, the shady side of anything, as opposed to the side that is in the sun. Suddenly, in a work which is partially of the 4th century B.C. we find these terms used in a philosophical sense. Yin and yang are categories, corresponding to male and female, weak and strong, dark and light. At the same time they are (though this view has been recently combated) quite definitely forces; for yin is the vital-energy (ch'i, the life-breath of Earth, just as yang is the life-breath of Heaven). The work in question is currently printed in 24 paragraphs; only in three of these are the terms yin and yang used at all. The division into paragraphs is of course relatively modern, and I only

{p. 111} mention it to show how very small a part these terms play in the Dualist theory. There is however little doubt that they assumed a much more important role in the speculations of Tsou Yen, who flourished in Ch'i at the end of the 4th and beginning of the 3rd century B.C.; and they figure considerably in some of the Taoist treatises that form the collections Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu. It is however an exaggeration to say that 'the theory of yin and yang spread rapidly. From the end of the 5th century it was generally adopted by all philosophers'. In the Analects, which were in process of formation at any rate down till about 350 B.C., there is no mention of yin and yang. In the works of the Mo Tzu school there is only one stray reference. In important Confucian works such as Mencius, the Chung Yung, the Ta Hsueh, these terms do not occur at all. Out of the 76 surviving p'ien of Kuan only some half dozen mention yin and yang. Even in the secodt half of the 3rd century the Dualist theory was not widely accepted. It had little influence on Hsun Tzu or Han Fei Tzi. It is utilized in the calendrical parts of the Lu Shih Ch'un Ch'iu, but hardly at all in the other parts of this very catholic encydopaedia. Now my purpose in emphasizing the relative unimportance of the Dualist theory during the 4th and 3rd centuries is to explain why it is that the terms yin and yang hgure so sparingly in my account of early Chinese thought, whereas some works on early China, particularly those dealing with archaeology,

{p. 112} attempt to explain every phenomenon in the light of the yin-yang Dualism. I will now return from this short digression, and ask what evidence there is that the Dualist conception was imported from the Iranian world.

In Zoroastrianism Darkness is essentiaIly evil; the principle of Light, essentially good. The fundamenul conception of yin and yang is quite different. They are two interdependent and complementary facets of existence, and the aim of yin-yang philosophers was not the triumph of Light, but the attainment in human life of perfect balance between the two principles. I will not here speculate as to how this conception arose in China. In order to do so we should have to examine the whole history of yarrow-stalk divination, the fancies that wove themselves round the properties of the numbers that played important parts in this system of divination, which is essentially a development of primitive omen-taking by 'odds' and 'evens'. Suffice it to say that while it is quite easy to see how the yin-yang theory may have grown up out of native dvination, it is very dificult indeed to imagine that even the most confused and distorted account of Persian religion could have given rise to the yin-yang system as we know it in China. {end}

(4) Enlightenment Europe's fascination with Confucian China - Voltaire & Leibniz cf Rousseau

Michael Edwards, East-West Passage: The Travel of Ideas, Arts and Inventions between Asia and the Western World (Taplinger Publishing Company, New York, 1971).

{p. 103} Confucius Conquers Europe

In the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Europe became infatuated with a vision of Cathay as legendary in its way as Mandeville's had been. In study and salon, the Chinese vogue swept all before it. The seventeenth century was an age of expanding curiosity in a rapidly expanding world. Men wanted answers and they were confident that answers were somewhere to be found. They turned first to what was, for Christians, a great reservoir of revealed truth - the Bible. Scholars and theologians, inspired by new scientific experiments, by the researches of antiquaries, by discoveries overseas, began to examine their Bibles for new interpretations. They sought for the universal language they were convinced had existed before Babel. Some believed it might be Chinese; by elaborate and totally unfounded argument they came to the conclusion that China had been peopled by the children of Noah before the confusion of tongues. It was even suggested that Confucius was a Christian prophet. Controversies sparked off by such conclusions survived well into the eighteenth century. Fundamentally, they represent an attempt to fit China into that universal history whose outlines were drawn from the Bible. It was perhaps China's antiquity which most influenced Europeans, the continuity (as they believed) of its institutions, and the peaceful and stable government that seemed always to have existed. This image was already established by 1660 and in the following years China also became renowned for superior morality. In the person of Confucius all these qualities were combined. The Jesuits were responsible for this - in their missionary endeavours in China they had tried to create an autonomous Christian church with its own rites, and Confucius was fundamental to this ideal. Jesuit propaganda in Europe stressed his role as a teacher whose code of ethics was implicit in the nature of Chinese government. They made Confucius into a prince of philosophers, and the Confucian literati into scholar-governors. The European philosophical climate proved receptive, and the Jesuits flooded Europe with translations

{p. 104} of the Chinese classics and Confucian writings. In 1687 a compendium of these, Confucius Sinarum Philosophus, was dedicated to no less a person than Louis XIV of France.

Confucius did not help the Jesuits much in what came to be known as the 'rites controversy', but the sage was avidly taken up by the philosophers of the European Enlightenment. The first was the German thinker Leibniz (164I-1716). As early as 1697, he was referring to Confucius as 'the king of Chinese philosophers'. During a visit to Rome, he had made the acquaintance of the Jesuit father Grimaldi, who had worked in China. From the information he received then and later in correspondence, Leibniz proposed the universal system of natural philosophy first expounded in his Novissima Sinica of 1697. He also called for close cultural relations with China. 'I almost think it necessary that Chinese missionaries be sent to us to teach us the aim and practice of natural theology as wesend missionaries to them to instruct them in revealed theology.' Leibniz pointed out the beneficent effect the rules of Confucius had had on private and public life in China and went so far as to suggest that 'if a wise man were to be appointed judge - not of the beauty of goddesses but of the goodness of peoples - he would award the golden apple to the Chinese'. He founded the Berlin Society of Science for the 'opening-up of China and the interchange of civilizations between China and Europe', and even suggested that France should construct a canal at Suez in order to open up a shorter sea route.

The enthusiasm of Leibniz communicated itself to others. One Christian Wolff, made out such a passionate case for Chinese morality that he was expelled from the Prussian dominions for atheism. Wolff, following Leibniz, taught the doctrine of 'pre-established harmony', a view of the universe in which the greatest possible variety was held together by the greatest possible unity, a concept very close to that of the Chinese. This doctrine was explained to Frederick William I of Prussia, who was obsessed with his army, as meaning that, if the king's tallest grenadier ran away, he could not fairly be punished, because in running away he was merely conforming with the laws of pre-established harmony The king ordered Wolff on pain of death to leave the country within forty-eight hours!

The essence of the gospel of the Enlightenment, as expressed by

{p. 105} Leibniz and Wolff and many others who followed them, was the need for socially purposeful action - that is, action in harmony with the human spirit and natural morality. This was indeed the Confucian concept of the virtuous act. Furthermore, there was nothing incompatible with Christianity in this concept; on the contrary, the philosophers and the Jesuits believed that the god of Confucius was the same god as theirs. But from the theological faculty of the University of Paris, the centre of Jesuit enthusiasm for China, came a constant flow of praise for Confucian ideas, much of which was expressed in what can only be described as heretical terms.

It was in France that Chinese ideas were to have their greatest effect. There was every reason why this should have been so. The reign of Louis XIV had imposed a rich but pompous rigidity on thought and art. The roi soleil might relax enough to allow an occasional chinoiserie to enliven his court, but the climate of his age was staid and stifling. Before he died, old, pious and lonely, in the second decade of the eighteenth century, a new world had begun to break through. Faith was giving way to scepticism, symmetry to exuberance, dullness to gaiety, the formality of the throneroom to the licence of the fete champetre.

The philosophers, too, moved into a gayer world - though they did so with great seriousness. They looked at God not with unquestioning acceptance but with rational inquiry. They contemplated society, and sought to change it by the exercise of virtue. They gazed at China, and saw Reason's kingdom of heaven. They discovered, in Confucius, someone who had thought the same thoughts as they, two thousand years earlier, and who had come to conclusions which, they believed, ordered the happy state of affairs in China. The philosophers of Europe knew nothing of other Chinese thinkers such as Lao-tse, or of Taoism with its magic, mysticism and irrationality. Looking through the refracting lens of Jesuit propaganda, they saw only Confucius, and not China. Theirs was the chinoiserie of the study, the counterpart to that of the salon.

It was Voltaire, that impresario of the exotic, who made Confucius into the archetype of the eighteenth-century rationalist. Confucius, he wrote, 'appeals only to virtue, he preaches no miracles, there is nothing in [his books] of religious allegory'. The

{p. 106} Jesuits had indeed made a convert in Voltaire, but one who, with enthusiasm, turned against them the knowledge they had taught him. The Jesuits had, in fact, by stressing the importance of natural law in practical politics, put into the hands of eighteenth-century thinkers ammunition for the defence of both enlightened despotism and the old concept of absolutism. Voltaire and those who drew inspiration from him were, above all, enamoured with the view of the philosopher as king. 'Go to Peking,' exclaimed one. 'Gaze upon the mightiest of monarchs; he is the true and perfect image of Heaven.'

Voltaire thought he saw in Frederick the Great of Prussia the enlightened despot of his hopes. But Frederick was not concerned with a country he confessed to knowing nothing about. 'I leave the Chinese to you,' he wrote to Voltaire in 1776, '... along with the Indians and Tartars. The European nations keep my mind sufficiently occupied.' No eighteenth-century monarch would, in fact, have dreamed of employing philosophers in important offices of state - which, in effect, was what Voltaire was advocating, on the mistaken assumption that such a system of government existed in China. Their lack of success in practical politics did not discourage Voltaire or the rest of the sinophiles, however, and their advocacy of Confucius continued unabated. It was to be left to another, more practical, thinker to give China some real influence upon affairs.

This was Francois Quesnay (1694-1774), physician to Madame de Pompadour who was herself an enthusiast for things Chinese. Fittingly, her doctor soon came to be known, at least by his admirers, as the 'Confucius of Europe'. Quesnay erected a system of political economy with which he hoped to save the absolutist French monarchy from the dangers that were already facing it, and published his plans in Le Despotisme de la Chine. He and his followers - the Physiocrats, as they were called, from the Greek word for nature - believed implicitly that society should be governed according to 'natural' laws. Agriculture, he maintained, was the sole source of wealth and therefore the only subject for taxation. In his Tableau economique (1762), Quesnay ingeniously translated Chinese doctrine into mathematics. But it was ingenuity wasted. The King of France was no more interested in the example of China than was the King of Prussia. Other forces, too, were

{p. 107} active and were eventually to triumph, changing society not by reform, but by revolution.

Like France, England had by no means been immune to the glamour of Confucius. In the second half of the seventeenth century, Sir William Temple had claimed that 'the kingdom of China seems to be framed and policed with the utmost force and reach of human wisdom, reason and contrivance'. It was a Utopia, he claimed, far surpassing the imagined ideals of such men as Plato. But, though Confucius did have his admirers - who for a time included Dr Johnson - such panegyrics did not inflame the English. Dissenting opinion was soon heard. One writer, as early as 1694, dismissed the maxims of Confucius as mere pastiche, with which 'good Sense and tolerable experience might have furnished any Man'. When Voltaire and Quesnay were creating their ideals, the Chinese vogue amongst English scholars and men of letters was already dying. China had become little more than the land of tea. This was because a new literature of hardheaded appraisal had begun to appear. In 1743, Captain George Anson touched briefly on the coast of China during a voyage around the world, and was treated with the usual Chinese contempt for foreigners. His sharp eye was quick to observe the shortcomings of the administration. The magistrates, he wrote, 'are corrupt, their people thievish, and their tribunals crafty and venal'. Although Anson's strictures were denied by Voltaire, they provided splendid ammunition for the anti-sinophiles and his book was widely distributed. These and similar revelations did not, of course, undermine the reputation of Confucius overnight, but they did cast doubt on the Jesuit view of China and the interpretations which had been based upon it. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, a distinguished French man of letters was able to assert that the moral doctrines of the Chinese were exactly suitable for a 'herd of frightened slaves'.

Their uncritical acceptance of the Jesuit view of China laid European sinophiles open to attack the moment the authenticity of that view was in doubt. The church of Rome had already condemned the Jesuits; the English were engaged in proving that, even if such a China had existed in the past, it certainly did not exist today. European thinkers who looked upon Confucius mainly as an ally of reaction soon had facts with which to attack the enemy. Rousseau, the grit in the oyster of mid-eighteenth-century

{p. 108} thinking, condemned China as a terrible example of good manners corrupted by science and art. Of the Chinese he wrote: 'There is no sin to which they are not prone, no crime which is not common amongst them. If neither the ability of its ministers, nor the alleged wisdom of its laws, nor even the numberless multitude of its inhabitants, has been able to protect the realm against subjection by ignorant and rude barbarians, of what service have been all its wise men?' It was to counter this view that Voltaire wrote his play L'Orphelin de la Chine, 'Confucian Morals in Five Acts' (1755). He prefaced it with a letter to Rousseau which began: 'Sir, I have received your new book against the human race ...'

But the tide was already running against Confucius. Montesquieu, in his De l'Esprit des Lois (1748), questioned the benevolence of the Emperor of China's despotism and suggested that China's 'public tranquillity' was no more than the product of a climate 'which naturally disposes the inhabitants to slavish obedience'.

When it became clear that a sizeable proportion of China's population was not Confucian at all, but followed the Buddha or Lao-tse - whose philosophies had been described by the Jesuits as idolatrous - China's reputation sank even lower. In England in 1778, the Monthly Review described the beliefs of Lao-tse as 'such effusions of nonsense as surpass the most extravant ravings that ever were heard in the cells of Bedlam.' The experiences of Lord Macartney, sent on an embassy to the Emperor of China in 1792 struck the final crippling blow at the legend of China. England, already embarked on the first stage of her imperial journey, was to drown the Chinese myth for ever in a wave of contempt and abuse.

A large part of the legend had already crumbled long before the Macartney mission. Those philosophers who had hoped to convince Europe's monarchs that their only hope of survival lay in a benevolent despotism on the Chinese model had been ignored by the men they wished to save. The monarchs merely treated such suggestions as they did the chinoiseries of their palaces, as a pleasant gloss on the business of living. The sinophiles never really considered the people as worthy of their proselytizing endeavour - why should they, when they sought to model Utopia on their own view of China, on an administration of philosophers by whose virtue the happiness of the people was inevitably assured? The sinophiles were not egalitarians; if they thought of equality at all,

{p. 109} it was in terms of the equality of talent. They believed implicitly in the Confucian principle that a virtuous administration, operating within the harmony of natural law, was the only way to stability. They were not revolutionaries, but reformers.

The Chinese model of an absolute monarchy, however benevolent, could have no appeal for men who looked to the concept of popular sovereignty as a counter to, for example, the abuses of the ancien rgime in France. The advocates of democratic liberalism were not prepared for any enhancement of absolutism. They looked to an elected parliament as a means of universal happiness, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man was their reply to the ideology of enlightened despotism. As the blade of the guillotine fell on the neck of Louis XVI in January 1793, it severed the head of Confucius as well as that of the King of France.

In the fall of Cathay, however, what might be called the Classical underground also played its part. The discovery in the second half of the eighteenth century of the ruins of Herculaneum, Pompeii and Palmyra revived interest in the Classical world - the world of Greece and Rome. Plutarch began to displace Confucius. Just as the men of the Renaissance had sought out their European past in defence against the East, so did the men of the late eighteenth century. Some even suggested that the Chinese themselves had derived their civilization from Ancient Greece. 'The Greeks,' wrote Christoph Meiners, professor of philosophy at Gottingen in 1778, were 'the people who really shed light upon the dark places of the earth ... illuminated eastern Asia even earlier than western and northern Europe.' This suggestion was of the same order as those designed to prove that China had been an Egyptian colony, or that the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego were none other than the descendants of wandering Koreans. There were ingenious claims, too, that Chinese writing was of Phoenician origin. But, so low had the opinion of Chinese culture fallen in the minds of European scholars that even these theories were scornfully dismissed as valuing China too high. It was a natural reaction against the uncritical worship of China, but a reaction also based fundamentally on ignorance. In such circumstances, there was no middle way between fulsome praise and total contempt.


(5) Authoritarianism of Confucianism

Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 16:47:22 EDT From:

How could you omit Simon Henri Nicollet Linguet on China. He, and many French Physiocrats, admired China because it had the most laws, hence must be the most perfect, etc. Your exerpts neglect the authoritarianism of Confucianism. Michael {end}


On Linguet, I found:

[LINGUET, Simon Nicolas Henri (1736-1794)] Théorie des loix civiles, ou principes fondamentaux de la société. Londres [Paris] 1767. 2 volumes. 12mo. [IV],496; [IV],528p. ...

A refutation of Montesquieu and the theories of the Physiocrats, and one of the major achievements of early socialist thinking. Linguet's book was highly praised by among others Karl Marx, particularly because of the theses developed in the second book On the origin of laws. 'Linguet wrecked Montesquieu's illusory esprit des lois with a single word: the esprit des lois is property' (note to Das Kapital). 'Moreover, occupying himself almost entirely with the fate of living people, workers and peasants, and analyzing the mechanism of their condition, he (Linguet) stands much nearer to the modern industrial socialists than to the first French socialist school, and he is one of the few writers before 1789 of whom could be said with good reason, that he is more a predecessor of Karl Marx, than an ancestor of Fourier or Cabet' (Lichtenberger). ...


A special study on the "Asia Crisis": asia-crisis.html.

Kinhide Mushakoji on the political polarities of East Asia: mushakoji.html.

Edith Terry, How Asia Got Rich: Japan, China, and the Asian Miracle (foreword by Chalmers Johnson): terry.html.

James Fallows' article How the World Works, on how Asia's economies are based on the philosophy of Friedrich List: soros2.html.

Back to the Asia index: asia.html.

Write to me at contact.html.