The Establishment of the World of Rites: The Quest for the Social Order in Chia I’s Political Thought

Vol. 23 No. 2   6/1993   


The Establishment of the World of Rites: The Quest for the Social Order in Chia I’s Political Thought 


Lin Tsung-shun









Key words



   The aim of this article is to trace the development of Confucianism as the Han state ideology with regard to Chia I’s pursuit of social order through rites. 

    Li, or rite, is one of the key elements in Chia I’s political thought. Confronting the practical problem of how to reconstruct the political, social, and economic order of the newly founded Han empire, Chia I proposed that only in and through the practice of rites can the norms of civilized society be established. Moreover, with recourse to the establishment of rites, Chia I also attempted to transform the secular society into an ideal and civilized one. Being a self-imposed Confucian, Chia I never the less introduced certain Legalist doctrines into his philosophy of rite and social order. 

    Confucianism as the state ideology of the Han empire was consummated when Tung Chung-shu promoted Confucianism to an orthodoxy. Within this perspective, Chia I’s pursuit of the social order through rites could be seen as a preliminary step towards the establishment of the state ideology by the Han Confucians. 

    In order to explain Chia I’s adaptation of Legalist doctrines in his Political propositions, the present study will focus on the emergence and development of Legalism in terms of the socio-political structure of the Han empire—even though Legalism had never acquired its full recognition during the Han period. On the other hand, the present study will also demonstrate the validity as well as limits of Chia I’s proposition of rite as a state ideology



Author: Lin Tsung-shun
Genre: Article