Between Scholarship and Politics: A Reflection on t he Thought Policy in the Beginning of Imperial China

Vol. 30 No. 3   9/2000  


Between Scholarship and Politics: A reflection on the Thought Policy in the Beginning of Imperial China


Chien-wen Wang









Key words

scholarship, politics, political order,culture order, Tao-shu, Saint/King, Kuan-Shih-Chih-Chiao


    There were some important concepts in Confucian thought such as “Dao/Shih(/)” “scholarship/politics (學術/政治)” “scholar/bureaucracy, teacher/officer (/官、師/)” “Saint/King (/)”. Sometimes they were in opposition, and sometimes they were in unity. Investigating the origin of those conceptual pairs, we can find that they had been in unity conceptually and realistically in Feng-Chien (封建) era, and they splited following the collapse of Feng-Chien system (封建制度).

    After the split, the memory of the unity of those concepts got to be an imaginative ideal and to be the symbol of a good old time. Both of the emperors and the scholars expected the reunion in the dawn of Imperial China. Fen-Shu-Keng-Ju (焚書坑儒) by Ch’in-Shih-Huang (秦始皇) and Pa-Ch’u-Pai-Chia Tu-tsun-Ju-Shu (罷黜百家獨尊儒術) by Han-Wu-Ti (漢武帝) tried to reunite those polarities, the political order and the culture order met each other after separation for hundreds of years.

    The meeting of scholar and politics gave rise to questions which got to be a great puzzle of Confucian thought in traditional China. Which was priority between scholar and politics? Which was the dominating sector between political order and culture order? How they constructed the connective system from officer to scholar of from scholar to officer? Could we find an effective method to transform a King (王者) to be a Saint (聖人)?



Author: Chien-wen Wang
Genre: Article