Shizi: China's First Syncretist

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Paul Fischer
Columbia University Press, Jun 19, 2012 - Philosophy - 240 pages
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By blending multiple strands of thought into one ideology, Chinese Syncretists of the pre-imperial period created an essential guide to contemporary ideas about society and government. Merging traditions such as Ruism, Mohism, Daoism, Legalism, and Yin-Yang naturalism into their work, Syncretists supported an integrated intellectual approach that contrasted with the exclusivist philosophies of Confucianism and Daoism. Presenting the first full English translation of the earliest example of a Syncretist text, this volume introduces Western scholars to both the brilliance of the syncretic method and a critical work of Chinese leadership.

Written by Shi Jiao, China’s first syncretic thinker, during the Warring States Period of 481 to 221 BCE, Shizi is similar to Machiavelli’s The Prince in dispensing wisdom to would-be rulers. Its twin pillars of advice encourage self-cultivation and effective government, recommending that rulers maintain self-discipline, hire reliable people, delegate power consistently and transparently, and promote in orderly fashion. The people, in turn, would emulate their leader’s detachment and objectivity, and the state would function justly and peacefully. Paul Fischer provides an extensive introduction and chapter by chapter summary and analysis, outlining the importance of syncretism in Chinese culture, along with the text’s particular features, authorship, transmission, loss, and reconstruction over time. The Shizi set the stage for a long history of syncretic endeavor in China, and its study provides insight into the vital traditions of early Chinese philosophy. It also constructs a template for interpreting other well-known works, such as the Confucian Analects, the Daoist Laozi, the Mohist Mozi, and the Legalist Shang jun shu
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Content
17
Transmission
35
Key Terms
54
Annotated Translation
56
1 Exhortation to Learn
57
2 Honoring Words of Good Advice
64
3 Four Kinds of Proper Conduct
70
9 Good Intentions
97
10 Broadmindedness
100
11 Generous Fellows
103
12 Dwelling in the Way
105
13 Spiritous Enlightenment
109
14 Stopping the Chu Army
111
15 The Rulers Governance
113
Fragments
120

4 The Enlightenment Hall
72
5 Allocation
77
6 Emerging from Delusion
84
7 Consideration
92
8 Governing the World
94
Notes
173
Bibliography
229
Index
239
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Paul Fischer is an assistant professor of Chinese history at Western Kentucky University. He received his Ph.D. from the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

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