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The Influence Of Confucianism

By Author: Mark Gary
Total Articles: 61

To draw a clear line between the two groups, the officials attacked Confucianism, or more exactly the Confucian literati, whenever they could. Although established as a state ideology decades before, Confucianism was always counterbalanced by imperialist and Legalist undercurrents, as represented by government officials like Daifu. Disparaging the entire school would corrupt the literati's ethos and logos. The officials first recounted the political and cultural activities of Confucian adherents in the past, and then concluded that those individuals never brought peace to the state or glory to the ruler. As the logic went, the literati's proposal to end the monopoly would certainly not benefit the state either. Next, the officials questioned the usefulness of Confucian training for governing the state, and they ridiculed the personal traits of the literati, arguing that they were not virtuous, wise, honest, or brave. Further, the officials chided the literati for habitually using vague and bookish language in the debate: "You are talking gibberish. Your suggestions need to be practical. Don't use big, outdated words to confuse us". Questioning the literati's training and criticizing their language style indirectly cast doubt on Juicy Couture Necklaces the soundness of the literati's arguments. The literati certainly did not give in to any of those accusations; they fought back strenuously. Criticizing Confucianism and its adherents relentlessly underscored a clear divide between the two groups in terms of their political philosophy.

People commonly say: "Virtuous individuals will not stand being humiliated." Under the rule of the enlightened Son of Heaven, Xiongnu rebelled and harassed our border areas. They were guilty of both inhumanity and injustice. Because of their harassment, people living on the borders could not even pick edible wild herbs. In the past, Di people attacked Emperor Tai; Kuang people besieged Confucius. They were robbers of humanity. Therefore, the state strengthened its Juicy Couture Watch military muscle to attack injustice and it built weapons to guard against inhumanity. By portraying the Xiongnu people as representatives of injustice and inhumanity, values generally disdained by the Confucians, Daifu tried to justify the state's foreign policies. However, Xianliang refuted Daifu's argument by exposing his ethnocentrism: as the Xiongnu had cultivated a lifestyle different from the Han's, they should not be judged by Confucian values such as justice and ritual. Second, the officials strengthened their arguments by citing from Confucian classics. As the examples have shown so far, they cited from the spring and Autumn Annals and the Analects (the record of the Kuang people besieging Confucius). Because the officials appealed to the same values as the Confucian literati and cited sources from various schools, it is reductive and essential zing to label their discourse as Legalist, as previous scholars tended to do. Their discourse should be viewed as a hybrid because it imbibes values of several major schools. Nonetheless, this pro-Legalist hybrid was subsumed to the authority of the law, used to support imperial power rather than the aspirations of a multiethnic empire.

By understanding that the officials' discourse was not purely Legalist, but more flexible and adaptive, we start to uncover the complexity of the argumentative culture in Western Han China. Although only Confucianism was endorsed by the state and only Confucian classics were seriously studied in the imperial academy, the other schools were not banned. As we continue to see in my analysis, officials were well versed in several major schools: Legalism, Confucianism, Daoism, Mohism, and the Yin-Yang. Because some officials, like Daifu, were not recruited through court debates but through connections with the royal clan, it becomes clear that training in non-Confucian schools was available to the literati in Western Han society. Although Confucianism became the primary gateway for literati to join the officialdom, mainstream rhetorical training remained open and versatile.

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