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As we have seen in Part I, the concept of feudalism has not always proven to be an efficacious way of coming to terms with the distinctive historical development of Chinese society. Nonetheless, it is also doubtlessly rash to regard Chinese society as having been sunk from beginning to end in a bureaucratic social stagnation. Perhaps China superseded her antiquity in some distinctive way of her own, as European society succeeded in surmounting the ancient world by entering feudalism. The estimation ventured in Part I was not yet the result of an empirical study. In Part II, I should now like to investigate this prediction in the full concreteness of Chinese history. In the first chapter, I shall consider the reality and logic behind the transcendence of antiquity; and in the second chapter, I shall discuss the image of the medieval period into which this crystallized.


Transcending the World of Antiquity

The Principles of Shang and Chou and Their Dissolution

The Importance of the Change of Mandate from Shang to Chou. Did an era in Chinese history properly qualified to be called "ancient" ever exist? If so, what was the nature of the era that replaced it, and by what logic did it do so? Tracing the theme of the transcendence of antiquity in China and how we are to understand it are, to be sure, difficult matters. It is safe to assume that certain severe social dislocations must have accompanied the flow of history in the transcendence of antiquity. Among the great social transformations experienced in China since the inception of historical time were the Shang-Chou transition, the Spring and Autumn-Warring States period, and the late Latter Han–Three Kingdoms era. Theorists have proposed each one as the watershed between ancient and medieval times (i.e., the feudal period). I should like to consider the significance of each of these social upheavals and then pursue these issues from a somewhat different perspective.

The Shang-Chou transition is regarded as the earliest social transformation in Chinese history. The man who first clearly described the significance of this change in mandate from Shang to Chou was Wang Kuo-wei.[1] He argued that whereas the capital cities of the dynastic houses throughout the Shang were located along the lower reaches of the Yellow River in the East, the Chou rose along the upper reaches of the Yellow River in the West and toppled the Shang. This spelled the victory of Western culture over Eastern culture. Thus, in Wang's theory,


the Shang-Chou transition was not merely a dynastic change of mandate but a kind of "cultural revolution" as well.

According to Wang Kuo-wei, the content of this "cultural revolution" can be seen in the institutional differences of the Shang and Chou houses. Through the Shang, succession was fraternal, passing between male siblings legitimate and illegitimate alike. In the Chou, father-to-son succession as well as the institution of the inequality of male offspring were established. The latter gave rise to the new institutions of the patriarchal clan (tsung-fa )a and mourning garb, as well as a system of enfeoffment that determined the functions of sovereign and subject. In addition, not until the Chou dynasty were the temple system and the institution of exogamous marriage established. The basic principles of the Chou institutions, pointed out here by Wang, fixed Chinese ritual for a long time to come thereafter. Thus, Wang saw the origins of Chinese civilization embedded in the Chou and marked off the Shang-Chou as a crucial turning point in China's civilization.

While appraising Wang's theory as a brilliant observation, Naito[*] Konan argued that the change in the institutions of the Shang and Chou had to be understood as the evolution of eras and not simply as the result of a political incident, the change of dynasties.[2] Naito regarded the Shang-Chou transition as contiguous and developmental, rather than as a sharp break. He felt that Shang culture was fairly advanced, although this advancement had declined midway. The Chou, who were of different racial stock, inherited a rather developed culture from the Shang.

Kaizuka Shigeki follows Naito's ideas and has added correctives to Wang Kuo-wei's theory with empirical evidence. Kaizuka points out that although Wang considered the Shangto-Chou a basic transition from Eastern to Western culture, Shang culture in the later period sought an amalgamation of Eastern and Western cultures. Furthermore, father-to-son inheritance and a feudal system can also already be seen in embryo in the Shang. In short, Kaizuka holds that the Shang-Chou transition was not a sharp rupture but a point of continuity and development.[3]

Other theories have been suggested to explain the Shang-Chou transition, but each of them need not be discussed here.


Although unfamiliar with much of the primary material for this period, I feel that a huge leap in Chinese culture in the period centering around the Shang-Chou changeover is undeniable. The nature of this leap was largely as a takeoff point from a society of primitive clans, as can be seen in the change in inheritance rules cited by Wang Kuo-wei. The Shang house may have tended in this direction but it had not taken the decisive step; thus, the state remained primarily theocratic in character. By contrast, the Chou began regulating its people's lives through ritual systems and laid the firm groundwork for a Chinese culture to be characterized by ethical principles.

The jump from Shang to Chou, from the perspective of social structure, in no way marked the negation of the clan system. Chou rituals were not abstract concepts but real prescriptions for regulating order inside and outside the clan. The clan system did not disintegrate but rather was given order, strengthened, and generalized through ritual systems. We can see how such rules for inheritance, sacrifice, enfeoffment, and marriage were aimed at preserving and strengthening the patriarchal clan. In other words, ritual systems signified the form through which the clan system was civilized. The example of the enfeoffment system demonstrates that blood-relatedness (the principle around which social cohesion existed in clan society) extended to political principles.

Thus, while the Shang-Chou changeover was an event that deserves special mention in China's social history, it did not signify a negation of ancient society. Rather, it is best understood as the actualization of a stride forward from primitive clan society.

The Dissolution of the Principles Underlying Shang and Chou. The second period of change was the Spring and Autumn–Warring States era. After these few centuries of social upheaval, a united empire emerged in the Ch'in-Han period. Politically, the enfeoffment system was transformed into a centralized power, and the aristocratic system (in the sense to be described) into a bureaucracy. Deep social and economic changes, needless to say, lay behind this political transformation. How were the two qualitatively different historical worlds of Shang-Chou and Ch'in-Han linked by this tran-


sitional period? What were the continuities and discontinuities between the two eras?

As mentioned, the social principles of Shang and Chou were characterized by blood cohesion in the clan system forming a matching political order. One's position by blood determined one's political position. A particular clan body held political sovereignty. A system of infeudation, already begun in the Shang era, effected the political expansion of familial relations between the king and his relatives. In the Chou system of enfeoffment, this was fully developed, and the system of succession prescribed the bond between the king and the feudal lords and their retainers. Even the relationship between ruling and subordinate clans was no exception. The Shang royal house was tied to different surnamed feudal lords through fictive fraternal bonds; the Chou king's relationship to feudal lords with different surnames was conceptualized as main and branch houses.

The imperial clan and its collateral clans as a whole formed the aristocracy (shih-tsu ),b aside from which were the common people under their control. It appears that these commoners also carried on their own family affairs and as a group offered service to the aristocracy. There is an assortment of arguments surrounding the nature of the bond that brought together the aristocratic group and commoners into a "state" (kuo )c of the enfeoffed states of the Chou. Kaizuka Shigeki argues that the aristocrats and commoners participated together in the sacrifices to the deities of the earth and grain, but Masubuchi Tatsuo claims that the latter could not take part.[4] Putting aside the correctness of these two theories for now, the substance of the disagreement is reflected in the ordering principle of that time—blood determines politics.

In the Spring and Autumn period, this principle began to be undermined. Characteristic of this era was the development of a rupture between the status order based on blood ties and real power relations, as indicated by the decline in the Chou king's authority and the rapid rise of hegemonic feudal lords. This trend led to a power struggle within the aristocracy until the attempted mediation plans of such men as Tzu-ch'and of Chenge and Kuan-chungf of Ch'i,g both essentially reconstructions of traditional aristocratic politics. But politics still could not be moved from the principle of blood to that of brute force.


In the time of Confucius, subsequent to that of Kuan-chung and Tzu-ch'an, the task confronted by history was no longer simply the resolution of relations between aristocrats, but it had of necessity become their reaching down to make contact with the nonaristocratic strata. Responding to these new conditions, Confucius sought a reconstruction of the moral order of society. In his famous phrase, he stated: "[There is government] when the prince is prince, and the minister is minister; when the father is father, and the son is son."[5] The proper place for prince and minister, and for father and son, had been taken for granted in the Chou patriarchal clan because they expressed the a priori condition of blood ties in human relations. Now this a priori conditionality was no longer a self-evident norm, however, and herein lies the historical importance of Confucius's words.

Confucius's position under this new reality was not to bury traditional ethics through determination of blood ties but to value it consciously as a morality to be gained through acquired (a posteriori) effort. By the same token, this reveals the polarization of values at the time. The contention between schools in the intellectual world of the Warring States period was a necessary phenomenon caused by the collapse of the principle of clan blood ties. The thoroughly political pragmatism of the Legalists formed the most radical countersupposition to this principle. They rejected all "communitarian" bonds that the people formed on their own, and they demanded that all men be directly under the control of the sovereign as atomized individuals. (See the discussion of Utsunomiya Kiyoyoshi's theory in the next section.) In order to complete this autocracy, a full-fledged bureaucracy was adopted, and officials never possessed any autonomy but were merely the sovereign's servants.

Legalist political views constituted one side of the new type of state in the Spring and Autumn–Warring States period. As the bureaucracy and the centralized system of commanderies and prefectures became more developed, they finally gave birth to the unified Ch'in-Han empire. This might be dubbed the final result of the dissolution of the ancient Shang-Chou state. But what social principle permeated this new historical world? The political principles of the Legalists—to bring the people as


atomized individuals under control—doubtlessly constituted one aspect of the Ch'in-Han empire. However, it would be an exaggeration to say that this alone was the sole principle at this stage. The ideas of the Confucians themselves, and in a certain sense this also served as a wellspring for the Legalists, was a view premised on the collapse of the notion of clan blood ties. In actuality, Confucianism eventually gained access to the position of being the Han empire's guiding ideal.

The question of what social principle to apply to an understanding of the Ch'in-Han empire, as touched on in various sections of Part I, became a major topic of postwar East Asian historiography. A wide variety of theories were proposed, starting with the notion of a shift from relations of the clan system to patriarchal slavery. The tendency in recent years has been to focus on the bonds of "community" cohesion of the people who formed the structural foundation for the despotic state.[6] Thus, we have come to adopt a method that does not look at the Ch'in-Han empire solely to see forms of despotism but turns the issue around to look for connections to the world that supported or opposed it. Utsunomiya Kiyoyoshi's work has attempted this effort with the most remarkable methods.[7] I should like now to address this issue, making reference to Utsunomiya's theories.

The Structure of the Ch'in-Han Empire and the Autonomous World

On the Structure of Ch'in-Han Empire. Utsunomiya explained the Ch'in-Han empire as a structure in which the emperor and the people were situated at opposite extremes of the spectrum. The emperor sought to render his power over the people thorough through an individuated, personalized rule, and accordingly his view of the people was the Legalist's atomized notion. The people, however, organized in their daily lives into groups that were united by internal, mutual bonds. The smallest unit was the three-tsu[8] family, made up of the three units of the father and mother, wife and children, and siblings. Even when a son grew up and might have his own wife and sons, he lived with his father, mother, and siblings, often as an extended family. Family members managed the farming of their family's land cooperatively.


The father was not necessarily an absolute ruler who controlled the family members and their cooperative life as a patriarch. Actual family life centered around the young men and their wives and sons. While the parents received their respect, they were to be provided for through their childrens' labor. Thus, the father was the elder of the whole family group—his connection to the family members carried no stipulation of a ruler-ruled bond. Rather, it was a bond made on the basis of the ethical awareness of each individual and the central moral aim of this autonomous ethic—namely, filial piety.

This kinship bond within each autonomous family among the people was the patrilineage (tsung-tsu )h There were also families on the periphery of a patrilineage with distant or no blood ties, and all of these together made up local village (hsiang-tang )i society. A group of elders known as fu-laoj (or fu-hsiung )k led the patrilineage and local village, whereas general clan constituents were known as tzu-ti.l The relationship between fu-lao and tzu-ti was symbolized as a flesh-and-blood familial bond of a father and son or an elder and younger brother; and this bond seems to have operated as an autonomous personal relationship.

If their connection to the emperor was considered heteronomous, the people retained the autonomous world of family, patrilineage, and local village. Also, despite the fact that the emperor considered the people separate individuals, the "real life" of the people was built around their mutual "communitarian" solidarity. Thus, the basic principle of the emperor and that of the people were not merely of a different nature—they were diametrically opposed. These two underlying principles were turned into ideologies by the Mohists (and the Legalists) and the Confucians respectively. The opposing group principles—heteronomy vs. autonomy—which took form in the Spring and Autumn–Warring States period worked in contradictory and conflicting, as well as cooperative and mutually penetrating, ways. Together they gave form to the actual social groupings of the day. Utsunomiya argued that the Ch'in-Han empire constituted the realization of these historical principles.

One feature of Utsunomiya's theory was his view of the family. It was Nishijima Sadao (in his earlier theory) and Masubuchi Tatsuo who had called the family of that time patriarchal, had located in this quality the germinal points of power,


or had tried to argue, respectively, that it was of the same character as and in a supportive relationship to imperial power. Utsunomiya understood the family of that time as a nonpatriarchal, powerless world, and he stressed the qualitatively different principles underlying it and the empire.[9] While this does not avoid the danger of falling into a dualism, Utsunomiya's historical conception of the Ch'in-Han empire established an entirely new perspective. Although he assumed that, in the process of the dissolution of cohesion based on clan blood ties of the Shang-Chou era, society dispersed into three-tsu families, Utsunomiya's view led to an interpretation that the society under the Ch'in-Han family system had in fact inherited the autonomous quality of clan society from the Shang and Chou.[10] Thus, it appears that Confucianism acted as its carrier in ideological form.

Nonetheless, in certain respects, Shang-Chou and Ch'in-Han were qualitatively different. As noted earlier, the founding principle of Shang and Chou politics and society was the one-to-one mapping into the political realm of the order of blood ties. The blood unit was the political unit; relations (or their imitation) within the clan were nothing short of political relationships. However, under the system of three-tsu families, the result of the dispersal of the ancient clans, a political world could not take shape on its own. Rather, the political world could emerge only after having transcended individual families. An autonomous world of the family could not (without undergoing change) give form to a political world. The world was polarized into the autonomous realm and the political realm. The bipolar construction of the emperor and the people in Utsunomiya's theory was clearly the result of a functional differentiation of society in the earlier period.

On what basis did these two differentiated realms mutually interact to form the united world of the Ch'in-Han empire? It appears that Utsunomiya could not avoid a dualism here because this basis was not clearly indicated. I shall offer next a simple attempt at investigating this problem.

The Autonomous World and the Political World. The spatial expanse of what Utsunomiya called the "autonomous world" was the area in which families came into contact through their


daily lives—the hamlet or li.[11] The hamlet was the configuration of the residences of families, with a standard size of one hundred households, but a diverse number in actuality. It was surrounded by a mud wall, and intercourse with the outside was carried on through the hamlet gate. Residents of the hamlet attended to many matters cooperatively, such as harvest rites, public works, and defense. The hamlet formed a territorial "community." If a number of hamlets came together, they formed fortified towns known as hsiangm and t'ing.n A number of these would coalesce into a prefecture or hsien.o Thus, the ranking in the system of commanderies (chün )p and prefectures was hsiang-t'ing-li, though it was not a simple subordinating structure.

The li or hamlet was an autonomous unit led by a group of elders, and from the elders in each village a Thrice Venerable for the hsiangq was selected to manage local education. From the hsiang Thrice Venerables was chosen a prefectural Thrice Venerabler who was equivalent in rank to the local official beneath the prefect. In short, an autonomous structure with the hamlet as its basic unit extended from the hamlet through the hsiang to the prefectural level. This indicates the spatial scope of the daily contacts between families by virtue of patrilineal and local village relationships. However, the prefecture, or more likely the hsiang, was the outside limit of the autonomous world. (Commandery Thrice Venerabless and kingdom Thrice Venerablest were also installed on occasion, but they seem to have been mere figureheads.) Over on the other side of this boundary were the prefecture, commandery, and the center—the political world.

The issue at hand is how the autonomous world and the political world were connected. At the time of the Ch'en Shengu Rebellion at the end of the Ch'in, the elders of P'ei prefecture murdered the prefect, who had tenaciously held out for the Ch'in, and tried to install Liu Pangv in his place. Liu Pang turned them down, saying: "I fear that my abilities are superficial and that I am unable to fulfill my duties to protect my brethren.... I pray that you select a capable man."[12] He subsequently was selected Prefect of P'ei and began the project of unifying the realm.

Judging from the details of this case, the raison d'être of the prefect for the local elders and clan members lay in his capacity


to protect their lives and bring them peace of mind in their livelihood. Aware of the consciousness of his fellow locals, Liu Pang induced them to murder the Ch'in prefect so that he could take over the position. Two years later he entered the Ch'in capital at Hsien-yang and called together the elders and notables of the prefectures in order to make his famous declaration of the Three Articles of Law. He said to them: "The reason that I have come is entirely to eliminate evil on behalf of the elders. There is no room for tyranny [like the Ch'in dynasty's]. Have no fear."[13] These words set forth directly that Liu Pang's personal mission was to wipe out the onerous laws of the Ch'in and bring peace to the lives of the people.

The late Moriya Mitsuo used these examples to argue in the following way. Liu Pang's strength originally derived from his group of vagabonds and chivalrous men who had drifted away from their localities, but this limited the extent of his might. He qualified as sovereign of a new dynasty by receiving the support of the local elders and by using their capacity to lead. In this way, Liu Pang was able, according to Moriya, to jump from the position of being merely the chief of a band of chivalrous spirits to that of autocratic monarch. Thus, he argues that state power in its germinal form rested in such groups of gallant men, but these groups required the support of local society to transform themselves into a state.[14]

If we push this argument one step further, whether or not state power (or a band of gallant men as its embryonic form) was supported by local society depended on the extent to which it acted as protector of local society. Local society and state power formed a kind of support-protection bond. In this sense, it is not necessarily unreasonable to understand the rationale for the state to lie in its functions of preserving and sustaining local society.

Providing these two functions in local society had historical limitations that prevented them from being fully carried out by local society itself. It was unavoidable that mechanisms to do so were beyond the means of local society. The state—a band of gallant hearts in its rudimentary form and a military-bureaucratic apparatus in its completed form—played this role. This role for the state bestowed a certain superiority on itself and emerged as despotic control over local society. In its


most extreme form, this constituted Legalistic control. In the Ch'in era, even for people to meet and chat was punishable as a capital offense, and this was an extreme denial of the autonomous cohesion of the people. Liu Pang's Three Articles of Law promised to eliminate such severity in government. The Ch'in fell and was replaced by the Han, which guaranteed the autonomous life of the people.

As we have seen thus far, the Ch'in-Han empire in one respect clearly carried on Shang-Chou society. In Shang-Chou society, the political world and the autonomous world were integrated in an undifferentiated whole, and when it dissolved, these two worlds split apart. The mission of the Ch'in-Han empire was to reconstitute the bond in a new form. While the autonomous world inherited the three-tsu family as its basic unit, it lacked political independence in and of itself. This limitation gave birth at one pole to the political world in the form of empire. Thus, at the same time that these two worlds opposed each other, they also seemed to complement each other. One senses that with the passage of time the basic trend of the Ch'in-Han empire was toward the harmonious reintegration of the two worlds through mutual intervention and mutual penetration. I should like to address this phenomenon from the perspective of the bureaucracy.

One feature that distinguishes the Ch'in-Han period from the Shang-Chou era is the development of bureaucracy in the Ch'in-Han. If we can generalize ruling status in the Chou dynasty to be composed of people known as shih, w then the shih was a status given to those born into the ruling clans and carried with it particular religious and military functions. The upheavals of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods broke down this status system, and a bureaucratic body was formed in its place. Who made up this new ruling stratum of "bureaucrats"?

Confucius spoke of the human qualities befitting the new rulers of the new age, and he called the men who possessed such qualities shih. By putting it this way, he may have implied the vapidity of the old shih system supported by principles of blood relations. Confucius tried to compensate for this emptiness by painting an ideal of a new shih based on personal qualities. In actuality, the shih had to be practitioners of family morality,


and this practice itself took place in government. Thus, here was the ideal of an immanent consistency between morality and politics; and the original model of Confucius's conception was the shih of the Chou dynasty, the ritual—and hence political—system. Confucius called for this with a method not bound by the status system: old wine poured into new leather skins.

An interesting problem would be to see how other thinkers of the Spring and Autumn–Warring States period conceived of the shih, but we cannot go into that here. Under the Ch'in unification, political utilitarianism according to Legalist principles constituted the ideal for bureaucracy. Thus, the baseline was the extent to which an official contributed to the monarch, and the inner personal qualities of the official himself were irrelevant. On this point, there was no fundamental change in the Han. The political ideal in the first half of the Former Han could not erase Legalist principles in this one respect, and this was one reason people felt the autocratic nature of the Han empire. In the recruitment of bureaucrats at the time, when a meritorious official had no son to whom to bequeath his appointment, weight was placed for selection on Legalist officials knowledgeable in the law and practical administrative work. This indicates well the nature of the bureaucracy at that time.

The transformation from a bureaucratic system of this sort is complicated by the period when Emperor Wux ruled in the Former Han (140–87 B.C. ). He instituted a system of local recommendation and election (hsiang-chü li-hsüan ),y and the man who proposed the idea was Tung Chung-shu.z The Emperor's plan called for the eradication of the abuses of the earlier hereditary bureaucratic system by enabling each commandery to recommend annually wise men to be high-level expectant officials. The immediate consequences of this policy are unclear, but eventually a system of recommendation of Men of Filial Piety and Incorruptibility (hsiao-lien )aa began and by the Latter Han it had been institutionalized.

The significance of this local recommendation and election system lay in the fact that through it the government appointed men of talent based on popular opinion. It was, in effect, a form of bureaucratic recruitment through cooperation between officials and the populace. The criteria for appointment were filiality and integrity—living a moral life in local society—not


simply administrative capacity. This form of appointment served the function of absorbing not just the appointee but local society itself within the purview of state power.

Intertwined as this was with the adoption of Confucianism, proposed by Tung Chung-shu, it produced the conditions for the political world and the autonomous world to be reunited under the superior position of the former. This was not an immanent unification of the two on the basis of a status system based on blood ties. Reconsolidation could only occur, once that sort of unity had been ruptured, under the condition of the destruction of such a status system. Thus, the people who bore the task of this reunification were the Confucian literati of the Han dynasty. Was not then the universe of the Chou consummated within an even greater cycle?

The End of Empire and the Transcendence of the Foundations of Antiquity

The Theoretical Consequences of the Perfection of Empire. If we consider the Han empire the perfection of the ancient state, then within this image of perfection we need to find the moment at which historical development reached an impasse and growth switched to decline. A period of severe social dislocation in no way inferior to that of the Spring and Autumn–Warring States period occurred, to be sure, at the time of the collapse of the Han. Let us take a closer look at the import of these disorders from the perspective just outlined.

If we accept the proposal in its most superficial aspect that the Han empire was the perfection of the ancient state, then this is borne out by the very extent of Han territory. In Naito[*] Konan's periodization, antiquity is divided in two: the earlier period of the formation of Chinese culture and the later period when, with the spread of Chinese culture outward, Chinese history was transformed into East Asian history.[15] Generally speaking, these two periods can be understood as before and after the establishment of the Ch'in-Han empire. The characteristic of the later period, according to Naito, whereby China's cultural development beyond her borders transformed Chinese history into the history of East Asia, implied that the development of Chinese culture was not limited to that of a single state


but unfolded to give structure to a world history that included all the ethnic groups living on China's peripheries. From this perspective, calling the Ch'in-Han empire the perfection of the ancient state implies that it reached its pinnacle as a world empire.

To be somewhat more specific, the project of attempting to attain perfection as a world empire had already begun under Ch'in Shih-huang-ti.ab His military exploits attest to this effect: he drove the Hsiung-nu off to the North, finished the Great Wall, attacked Nan-yüeh,ac and attempted to extend a system of commanderies and prefectures in the northern part of Vietnam. However, it was not until after the reign of the Emperor Wu that one sees this project firmly entrenched. From this time, a reversal in power relations between the Han and the Hsiungnu brought the lands of Tibet, Korea, and Nan-yüeh under the direct dominion of the Han dynasty, and Han culture spread to the west of Central Asia and as far eastward as Japan. As Naito[*] put it, the development of Chinese culture externally led to the formation of a world of "East Asian history."

Nonetheless, the birth of this world empire spawned a new problem for itself. This was not the result of an ephemeral situation, such as the secession through rebellion of the lands of alien peoples which had once been occupied by China, as had occurred at the end of the Ch'in. Rather, this would be a qualitatively new problem of holding onto territory gained by the Han through the successful conquest of China's border regions. The Hsiung-nu, who began to subside from the reign of Emperor Wu on, split into Northern and Southern halves in the Latter Han, and the Southern Hsiung-nu migrated back to their homeland. The inner reason for these developments can be found in the integral elements of a shift in the power relations between Han and Hsiung-nu, as well as the penetration of Han culture into Hsiung-nu society. The political and cultural superiority of the Han caused Hsiung-nu society to be subsumed under the Han empire and finally brought on its self-destruction.

The two tribes Tiad and Ch'iang,ae which had come into closer contact with the Han as the Hsiung-nu weakened, were both largely forced to move to territory within the empire. The racial conflict this stirred up led to frequent troubles. The great


Ch'iang rebellion at the beginning of the second century A.D. severely impoverished the Han dynasty. This provides a fine illustration of the reverberatory results of the success of Han external expansion. Naito[*] 's first period, "antiquity," eventually brings about, together with its perfection, its own demise.

According to Naito, the period from the second half of the Latter Han through the Western Chin composes a transitional era between "antiquity" (period one) and the "medieval era" (period two). Thus, this "medieval era"—namely, from the Six Dynasties through the middle of the T'ang—was a period in which the alien races came to a self-awareness and extended their influence back into the Chinese interior. Naito's method tries to understand the historical development of Chinese society as two vectors: the external expansion of Chinese culture and the internal penetration of the border races awakened by Chinese expansion. Thus, the Han empire reached the peak of its external expansion, and then its demise supplied the turning point for the reverse tide it had itself unleashed.

Since I have analyzed elsewhere the problem of conflict resulting from the Han expansion,[16] I shall withhold further comment. Here I should like to consider the issue of the internal expansion of Han culture. Was there not similar historical logic at work in the permeation of the power of the Han empire down to the ground level of Chinese society and in Han external expansion? In other words, the closer the ancient world came to completion through the Han empire's deep thrusts into society, the more it seems a qualitatively different world was emerging therein. If this prediction proves true, then I believe we can find here both the logic and the actuality for the transcendence of the ancient world.

As we have seen, in the process of the completion of the Han empire, the political world incorporated within itself the autonomous world. Although it was a consolidation of two worlds through the hegemony of the former, did not the autonomous world entertain the possibility of striving for its own completion so that it could achieve its own hegemony? The earliest manifestation of this development in the Latter Han was a literati movement in the factional strife of the two streams (to be discussed).

The problem of land annexation, which had already sur-


faced during the reign of Emperor Wu—something that Tung Chung-shu pointed out—was worked out at the end of the Former Han in the policies of Shih Tanaf and K'ung Kuangag for limitations on the amount of land and number of servants one could have. The fact that it was obstructed by maternal relatives and court favorites from being implemented, however, presaged the political situation in the subsequent Latter Han. From the middle of the Latter Han, maternal relatives and eunuchs echoed this strife, monopolized political power, and rapidly deepened their personal hold on state power. This progressed in a close relationship to the issue of land annexation. After the debacle of the Wang Mangah reforms, which carried Shih Tan's aims one drastic step further, the attempt to restrain with political power the annexation of land and people was no longer undertaken. Or rather, political power itself became engulfed in a wave of rapidly advancing large landholdings and class differentiation.

In particular, after Emperor Huanai relied on the might of eunuchs to exterminate the maternal relatives of the Liangaj family in the middle of the second century A.D. , the shadow of "eunuch despotism" was cast over the imperial government. Their baneful influence spread widely through society. Not only did they directly oppress people and frantically try to increase their private property but also, because of their interdependence with the local great clans and their mutual plans for private gain, they were able to extend their influence to every corner of society. They brought about a privatization of power throughout the entire state structure. In this way, the dissolution of the state reached the point where it could no longer be staved off during the reigns of Emperor Huan (r. 147–167) and Emperor Lingak (r. 168–188) at the end of the Latter Han.

In the middle of the Former Han, Tung Chung-shu indicted the annexation of land and proposed that limitations be set on large landholdings, but what Tung was criticizing was not simply the confiscation of the people's land. He was pointing out that the state in its entirety at that time was being transformed into a mechanism for the exploitation and oppression of the people, and he was criticizing this by analogy with society under the well-field system of high antiquity. His idea of turning the Han dynasty into an ideal Confucian state was far from re-


alistic. The people could never expect such a moral life under these political, social, and economic circumstances. Thus, Tung Chung-shu's plan for limiting the size of landholdings can be regarded as an initiative premised on the structure of a moral Confucian world that looked upon antiquity as ideal.

More than two centuries after Tung Chung-shu's time, it would be Pure Stream (Ch'ing-liu )[17] literati who moved to resist the political and economic state of affairs which had all but become desperate by the end of the Latter Han. Where in the world did these Pure Stream literati come from historically?

The Universality of the Pure Stream Movement. This issue was examined comprehensively a number of years ago by Kawakatsu Yoshio.[18] Kawakatsu criticized Yang Lien-shengal who had argued that the opposition between the Pure Stream and the Turbid Stream (Chou-liu ),am in the final analysis, was discord between two groups of great clans—eunuch great clans and bureaucratic great clans—over the acquisition of political power. Kawakatsu argued that the base of support of the Pure Stream literati lay not in the great clans themselves but in a public opinion that transcended both clan organization and regionalism and supported them without regard to status or class. In other words, members and nonmembers of great clans, with a single ideological platform, formed one large sphere of influence that united a widespread public opinion.

The platform, this public opinion, was a concept of the state which professed its legitimacy against the existing perversion of the state; it embodied a Confucian conception of the state. The fact that maternal relatives and eunuchs held sovereign power constituted a perversion of what the Han state should have been; similarly, the fact that high-minded literati were excluded while wicked rascals swarmed about the reins of power was inexcusable in their minds. Kawakatsu argued, thus, that the Pure Stream literati sought a solidarity of three groups—the emperor, the literati, and the people—from the shared position of a conception of a fair and just state. As this conception expanded in the form of a nationwide public opinion, it exerted considerable pressure on the central government.

Within the Pure Stream sphere, character evaluations (such


as the "first day of the month criticism")[19] based on a notion of what a literatus should be according to Confucian value standards were exchanged. These evaluations severely repudiated the corrupt government's bureaucratic recruitment practices, and the literati as the voice of public opinion formed a unified circle. They forged mutual bonds of teachers and friends as well as a kind of master-servant bond known as men-sheng ku-lian (retainers) to men of renown. The associations thus formed maintained their mutual contacts and received support from the overall literati body.

With the expansion and strengthening of the Pure Stream force, the Latter Han state lost its substance and finally brought on an era of warlordism. Kawakatsu argued that the literati who carried on the spirit of the Pure Stream group preserved their shared feelings and retained their mutual contacts even under warlord rule. This indicated their supranational, universal position, which transcended the individual militarist states. The Six Dynasties aristocracy, which existed as the ruling class in society on a plane above changes in dynastic houses, were the successors of these literati.

The preceding was an outline of Kawakatsu's theory. The basic motif was his placing of the origin of the Six Dynasties aristocracy in the Pure Stream literati. His theory was unique in that he interpreted the Six Dynasties aristocracy as distinct from the great clans and as transcendent over them. The great clans were groupings in which kinsmen in a locality were united around a main family and in which additionally were included non-blood-related dependents such as "guests" and bodyguards. They possessed huge tracts of land and held sway over the local countryside. The great clans, however, were not necessarily aristocrats. Aristocrats owed their honored position to status, not simply to the possession of power. Here, Kawakatsu argued, was the kind of universality enjoyed by the aristocratic class.

In short, Kawakatsu understood the resistance movement of the Pure Stream literati as a movement of intellectuals rising above the Han empire, which had become corrupt and had deviated from its basic nature; and he linked the movement to the subsequent Six Dynasties aristocracy. Thus far in conformity with the points of this chapter, his argument describes one


side of the fierce conflict in which the autonomous world, being incorporated into the political world of the Han empire through the local recommendation system, was gradually maturing toward a transcendence of the empire which it had supported ideally. Nonetheless, could something that tried to bolster the empire conceptually really transcend it? The historical facts reveal that their movement was dealt crushing blows in two separate suppressions known as the proscriptions against scholarly cliques (tang-ku ).ao The "first shock" leading to the destruction of the Han empire was administered by a different sort of movement, the Yellow Turban rebellion. We are left with a vague sense of uneasiness as to whether or not the Pure Stream movement did in fact transcend the Han empire. Masubuchi Tatsuo's critique of Kawakatsu's argument was much concerned with this problem.[20]

Critique of the Pure Stream Movement. Masubuchi's argument goes as follows. Kawakatsu tended to conceptualize the actual activities of the intellectual class of the day. Their activities were in no sense uniform, for in addition to those men who supported the Pure Stream officials, there was also a group of intellectuals who, although they had received the same Confucian training, adopted a different mode of action. They were in fact critical of the Pure Stream movement. For "famous scholars" (ming-shih )ap to meet with repression was actually considered an honor; this was the ethos by which Pure Stream literati honored moral integrity.

Yet, as can be seen in the cases of Shen-t'u P'anaq and Yüan Hung,ar there were people who foresaw the factional intrigues and saved their lives by escaping. Masubuchi argues that they were all men with reputations for goodness in their local villages, but they did not respond to the call of the Pure Stream bureaucrats and held firm to an eremitic attitude of a whole life of nonservice. While they were indeed critical of the eunuchs, they also voiced an exceedingly harsh position toward the pompous political arguments of Pure Stream adherents, the so-called fu-hua chiao-huias (superficial intercourse). Why was this the case?

Masubuchi continues that even though the Pure Stream movement grew through its advocacy of true purity and upright-


ness, in actual fact it contained elements of impure motives—"guys looking for fame and seeking profit," as Hu San-hsingat (1230–1287; a commentator on the Tzu-chih t'ung-chien )[21] derided them. The capital (then at Lo-yang) was a place where heroes and chivalrous spirits assembled, and the Imperial College (T'ai-hsüeh)au there with over 30,000 students was a scene of burning political debate. The residences of the "famous scholars" were always packed with guests, and as the expression that emerged from this—"scaling the Dragon Gate" (teng Lung-men )av —suggests, people sought an opportunity for government service through friendships with these "famous scholars." And there clearly were a goodly number of such people thirsty for publicity.

It was said that Tou Wu,aw a man of outer court origins who was praised by Imperial College students as "the trustworthy Tou Yu-p'ingax [Wu] of the realm," distributed presents to the students from the Emperor and Empress. Yet, did he not make skillful use of public opinion among the students, who were highly critical of the eunuchs, and did he not try to strengthen his own political position in opposition to the eunuchs? This being the case, did Tou Wu and the students not contradict themselves by attacking the eunuchs as a corrupt force while falling into the same status by arrogating political power to themselves? Perhaps this is the reason why the eremitic scholars refused to go along with the Pure Stream movement.

Hu San-hsing's criticism of the Pure Stream movement comes to us primarily from ideas expressed in Ch'en Yüan'say work, T'ung-chien Hu-chu piao-weiaz (An elucidation of Hu [San-hsing]'s commentary on the Tzu-chih t'ung-chien ). Ch'en felt Hu's criticism was a satire directed at the malodorous adhesion between the prime minister and the Imperial College students of the late Southern Sung, the case at hand for Hu. Following Ch'en's idea, Masubuchi suggested carrying this argument further to reinvestigate earlier conceptions of the Pure Stream movement.

As we have noted, Kawakatsu sought to explain the historical development from the Latter Han into the Six Dynasties period in sequential fashion by locating the origins of the Six Dynasties aristocracy in the Pure Stream literati of the late Latter Han. He saw them as having transcended the Han dy-


nasty, but Masubuchi's criticism pointed to the limitations of the Pure Stream literati and stressed the fact that their political clout would not necessarily overcome the decadence of the Latter Han state—it actually possessed a similar aspect in itself. Masubuchi must be highly praised for offering subsequent scholarship a new perspective in educing the existence of a critical, eremetic intelligentsia who did not follow the path taken by the Pure Stream movement.

Shortly thereafter, Kawakatsu responded to Masubuchi's critique and added to the complexity of the issue.[22] While accepting Masubuchi's criticism, Kawakatsu offered the following rebuttal. The resistance movement against control of the empire by eunuch power was an immense effort covering a period of fifty years from the latter half of the second century into the beginning of the third. It began with the political criticism of the Pure Stream literati, gave birth here to what Masubuchi called eremitic scholars, and later exploded in a revolutionary mass movement of poor peasants—the Yellow Turbans. From this macroscopic perspective, it is impossible to view the eremites as cut off from the Pure Stream sphere of influence. Also, the facts themselves indicate that the two were closely linked. Kawakatsu argues that there were men with eremitic proclivities among the Pure Stream literati and cases of close friendship between these two sorts of men.

What then was the social basis for a resistance movement of intellectuals such as the Pure Stream group and the hermit clique? To answer this question, Kawakatsu points to the fact that local society at the time had lost its original "communitarian" order and that it had been transformed into an arena of conflict among great clans. Certain segments of these great clans were linked to eunuch power and tried to destroy their rivals with eunuch backing. Thus was formed the "Real Power" alignment between eunuchs and great clans.

Great clan members estranged from this alliance and intellectuals who looked angrily upon the long-standing domination of local areas by the great clans offered resistance activities in a variety of forms. One of these was the Pure Stream movement, and another was the orientation toward the life of a hermit who, despairing that there was no recourse for the situation, sought to reject any contact with contemporary poli-


tics. Both cases were products of a dilemma that stretched across an internal contradiction within the great clans: a struggle between the aspirations of the great clans to expand themselves and a spirit of self-restraint based on Confucian training. This might be restated as a conflict between the destructive and preservative elements of the great clans with regard to the local village. If we look back at the theory presented by Kawakatsu in his earlier essay—namely, the notion of an aristocracy as a universal class transcending individual great clans—we can trace how this theme develops and how this internal contradiction inherent in the great clans was transcended in the actual movement.

One part of the Pure Stream literati which possessed this inner contradiction lost its resistance power because of the repressive proscription on cliques, while the mantle of resistance remained principally on the shoulders of the eremitic men of letters and the people. The intellectuals who resisted looked for a means of survival at this time which was now shifting from the resistance of the Pure Stream to that of the eremites. The hermit types had earned the esteem of the people as sages and concentrated on forming a new moral "community" with themselves in charge. Kawakatsu makes use of an essay by R. A. Stein, "Remarques sur les mouvements du taoïsme politico-religieux au IIe -siècle ap. J-C,"[23] to speak of a new world structured in this way, which was in fact something sought after by the popular religious revolutionary movement of the Yellow Turbans. Hermit intellectuals and the populace, the two elements of this resistance movement, he argues, built a new universe with this bond they forged.

While Masubuchi distinguished the Pure Stream literati and eremitic scholars by their different points of view, Kawakatsu tries to see their connections and their dynamic interplay in the broad sweep of history. Nonetheless, we still do not have an exhaustive, logical treatment of these two types of intellectual stance raised by Masubuchi. Once we have pinpointed this problem, I believe it can offer us a glimpse of how the political principles supporting the Han empire were overcome by these men. I should now like to offer my own impressions of this period.


The Populace and a Shift in Ideas among the Intelligentsia during the Han. Kawakatsu's macroscopic overview and the problems specific to the Pure Stream literati raised by Masubuchi seem to argue opposing positions, but in fact there is a point at which we can understand them in a unified manner. When we compare the stances of Pure Stream literati and the eremitic men of letters, we can see that the former were attacking the eunuchs from a conception of order that had existed in the past, while the latter were critical of such a relativistic approach itself and tried to plant themselves at a point from which to transcend that conception of order. This entailed a fundamental shift from the established position of Han intellectuals represented by the Pure Stream literati. If the Pure Stream faction is seen as no better than the Turbid Stream, then the importance of this shift among the intellectuals will be reduced. In actuality, the Pure Stream literati at least did not give sanction to the pursuit of self-interest as would befit the Turbid Stream, for this was the essence of their position as literati. Hence, the problem is twofold: Why, as Masubuchi notes, does their movement evoke a certain sense of opacity? And, why does a movement that stands for justice somehow link up with individual personal profit?

This contradictory construction of arguing that moral integrity gives rise to personal profit seems to have been based on the Han political notion that moral values are directly tied to political values. Morality and learning cohered uniformly with political authority and thus formed a completed imperial structure through the Former Han program of solely honoring Confucian scholars, particularly through the local recommendation system. Morality and learning, which would originally have found their sustenance in a critique of this system, diluted their own essences and adhered to the system.

The attack on eunuchs by the Pure Stream faction was a resistance from within the system, and thus the means used in attacking political opponents was their authority as officials of the empire. The fact that Imperial College students and Pure Stream officials praised some maternal relatives, as in the case of Tou Wu, was an inevitable result that their position bred. Also, the fact that they were often criticized in word and deed as


"superficial" (fu-hua )ba and "hypocritical" (wei-shan )bb was not unrelated to the institutionalization of morality. Masubuchi notes the phenomenon of a morality lacking in substance among the literati of the time, which he calls a "nominalization and externalization of the standards of value," but we have to see at the root of this phenomenon the institutionalization and vulgarization of morality and learning.

It was an expression of the Han empire complete. Political authority, grounded in morality and learning, towered above as something righteous and wonderful. At its social base was the autonomous world formed around the lives of individual families. And the Confucian moral practitioners who represented this world were absorbed into the power of the empire through the system of local recommendation.

As Kawakatsu argues, the Pure Stream literati derived their authority from a conception of order in the empire legitimized in this way. Yet, however justified it was, it guaranteed their status as appointed officials of the state. Also, the adherence of local society to political power brought about an inevitable dissolution of the world as they had known it. Thus, when the conception of order in the empire lost its substance, the sense of justice in the minds of the Pure Stream literati became even more righteous. The more they emphasized only moralisms, the greater grew the danger that they lacked a foothold in reality.

The people who discerned this emptiness in both the words and deeds of the Pure Stream faction were the members of the eremitic group. These hermits were groping to lead their lives in such a way as to transcend the empire and its conception of order upon which the Pure Stream people based their existences. For the Pure Stream literati, the Han empire was a permanent, indestructible universe, the kingdom on earth to realize Confucian morality. It was the universe in which notions of morality and learning were to be embodied by politics. Thus, they could not cast doubt upon the sanctity of "politics," and it was they who became the legitimate bearers of politics. In the Chou era, the shih had borne the responsibility that politics correspond to the ritual system, and it was a structure essentially no different from this that dominated the consciousness of the Pure Stream literati. Once this confidence was broken, the Han empire would be on the verge of demise.


What directly annulled the perpetuity and sanctity of the Han was, of course, the Yellow Turban uprising. According to Kawakatsu, this rebellion was a movement in search of a new "communitarian" world. However, it was not only the Yellow Turbans who repudiated the perpetuity and sanctity of the Han universe. The eremitic men of learning, avant-garde intellectuals of their day, cleared away the intellectual dimension of conquering the Han by abandoning their place in the establishment. Kawakatsu argues that a bond of spiritual solidarity formed between these intellectuals and the common people and seems to have given shape to the basic structure of social groups of the time, as seen first in the Yellow Turbans. This new solidarity forged between the intellectuals and the people did not give rise solely to a political movement to overthrow the dynasty. Apparently, it suggested as well the starting point for a new age that would transcend the formative principles themselves of China's ancient world that had been ceaselessly maturing since the Shang and Chou. I should like to address this issue in the next chapter.


The Medieval "Community" and Aristocratic Society

The "Communitarian" Structure of Groups in the Wei-Chin Period

The "Communitarian" Orientation of Early Taoism. As we saw in the previous chapter, the kinship order of Shang-Chou society provided a mapping for the political order. In other words, the intrinsic unity of morality and politics functioned as its basic principle. The subsequent society of the Ch'in and Han eras basically lay within the framework of this principle, or rather a reorganization and expansion of it. As time proceeded, however, this social principle eventually became devitalized.

The dissolution of the local village system, one form of "community" in the ancient period, accompanied the phenomenon of the privatization of privilege under a variety of facades: the privatization of state power by maternal relatives and eunuchs, the development of huge landholdings, and the emergence and increase in the number of subordinated people. In the cultural arena, ceremonies to the "god of the soil" (she )bc —a form of "communitarian" religious faith in the villages—were transformed into individual faith and gave rise to many kinds of popular beliefs concerned more with individual well-being. In short, the decline of a public-oriented principle that had penetrated every aspect of earlier society proved irreversible.

People did not, however, fail to resist this dissolution. The eremitic scholars from the intelligentsia refused to commit themselves to the political world, and Taoists, including many among the populace, took as their personal precepts the re-


straint of self-interest and a devotion to work for the public. The Taoists would not affirm the trend toward privatization of rights in society but rather aimed at a new bond of solidarity between people on the basis of a rejection and surmounting of this trend. This cohesive bond between people was no longer a natural one of kinship, as in the past, but one of a decidedly ethical, religious nature. The restraint of self-interest provided the crucial moment for the cohesion of this "communitarian" world being sought again.

Let us look at the example of the Five Pecks of Rice religious group, which built a state based on the unity of religion and politics in Szechwan during the Three Kingdoms period. The members of this group built public lodgings known as "charitable inns" (i-she ),bd stocked rice and meat donated by believers, and prepared for the convenience of visitors. If a visitor took a portion larger than personally necessary, they felt he would receive retribution and be stricken with illness.[24] "Visitors" here implied people who, having left their native village for reasons of famine or war, led a life roaming about other regions. The followers of the religion divided their own life resources for such strangers, and those wayfarers and unfamiliar faces who received their help made it a rule that they would not take more than was necessary. In this way, a personal act of self-restraint on both sides formed a solidarity within the religious group. It was a solidarity that went one step beyond bonds of kinship in that it was mediated by an ethical consciousness.

This phenomenon was not limited to the Five Pecks of Rice group. The Pao-p'u-tzu of Ko Hung[25] introduced the various "moral injunctions of the way"[26] as follows:

Those who seek long life ... rejoice in others' good fortune, sympathize with others' hardship, assist others in emergencies, and come to the aid of the impoverished, bring harm to no living creature, do not openly exhort calamities upon others; where you are successful, be happy in others' success, and where you fail, be unhappy if others fail; be not haughty, nor boastful, nor jealous, nor flattering, nor secretive in the wish to harm others.

This clearly shows that the essential spirit of these Taoist


groups was a transcendence of self in practice. The followers sought "long life" (immortality) by observing their religious precepts, a world of the highest good for the individual attained by self-transcendence. While this overcame the kinship world of antiquity, it simultaneously spelled a transcendence over that which destroyed that world. One might venture so far as to say that we have here the logical structure for the sublation of the "communitarian" world itself through a transcendence of that which destroyed the ancient "communitarian" world.

When we look at the trends of intellectuals and the people at the end of the Latter Han, we sense an orientation toward a "communitarian" universe of a higher order, as we saw earlier.[27] But how did this inclination take root in the subsequent social structure?

Rebellion and the Formation of Medieval Centers of Population. The decisive moment for the breakup of the Han empire was the Yellow Turban rebellion. Unity of political power completely dissolved, and the political situation rushed forward into the confusion of the Three Kingdoms period. The Chin was to gain control over a reunified political authority, but success was momentary as the independence of the alien peoples threw North China into severe political disorder once again. Until the latter half of the fourth century, when the Northern Wei brought stability to North China, the northern region was in a state of upheaval for about two hundred years. How did these various intellectual currents intent on overcoming the basic principles of antiquity, as seen in the late Latter Han, survive amidst political chaos over two centuries?

It would be rash to consider these currents buried and extinguished in the high seas of politics, because in this era of hardship people had to go on living. The thoroughly enervated central government could no longer ensure the continued existence of the people, and the people accordingly had to plan for it themselves, all the while avoiding the fighting of the militarists. But, since they could not live in isolation, they formed groups of various natures and devised methods for survival. These groups themselves gave expression to a modus vivendi under dire circumstances. They formed the social groundwork that enabled people to deal with the blinding


changes wrought by events in the political sphere. The logic of history, as reconstructed earlier, seems to merge with these groups, and I should like now to base these observations in some concrete examples.

Recent scholars have noted the great changes that transpired in the history of Chinese population centers from the Latter Han through the Wei-Chin period. One of these changes was the emergence of the ts' According to the regulations on households in the K'ai-yuan era (713–741) of the T'ang dynasty, there was no difference between a city and a rural town in the T'ang, as all population sites were united by a "village" system: an urban "village" was called a fangbf while a rural "village" was called a ts'un.

Miyakawa Hisayuki's essay, "Rikucho[*] jidai no son ni tsuite" (On the ts'un of the Six Dynasties period),[28] offers a historical explanation for this. In the Han dynasty, the center of population in town and country alike was generally the hamlet (li ) Later, Miyakawa points out, there developed a distinction between urban and rural areas which, by the T'ang dynasty, had become institutionalized, as described earlier. He notes that only from the Three Kingdoms period on did the word ts'un become a new expression for rural population areas, as a result of this differentiation. The disruption to the Han local village system made people, who had moved to avoid the warfare, form new living areas for self-protection. The sites picked for these areas were not uniform and were sometimes to be found at the remains of an earlier area, but there are many cases of construction in secluded, remote spots. In the poetry of the time, the expression "new ts'un" (hsin-ts'un )bg was used frequently, and this may provide insight into the historical nature of the ts'un.

Following on Miyakawa's work, Miyazaki Ichisada has advanced research on this point.[29] Miyazaki sees the institution of distinct hsiang and t'ing levels as hangovers from ancient city-states. The emergence of the ts'un, he argues, marked the formation of the medieval village, born of the collapse of these ancient city-states. Mutual aid centering around the unit of the hamlet and its ceremonies to the "god of the soil" effectively forged bonds of solidarity between residents under the earlier system. But, in the ts'un system, we have to look for a new


mainstay of mutual aid, both spiritually and socially. Buddhism and Taoism, Miyazaki argues, entered the picture now as they sought to capture men's minds.

At the same time that the "ts'un" phenomenon was spreading, a living area known as the "wu "bh was in existence. The compound ts'un-wu appears frequently, which would suggest that, in many cases, the two terms indicated similar varieties of population centers. We have quite a number of studies on the wu, one of the first being the classic essay by the late Naba Toshisada, "Ushu ko[*] " (A study of the wu leader).[30] Recently, Chin Fa-ken published a comprehensive collection of historical materials concerning this issue.[31] From these studies, we can put together a general picture of the wu.

The original meaning of the character wu is found in the Tzulinbi (Character dictionary), cited in Li Hsien'sbj note to the biography of Ma Yüanbk in the Hou-Han-shubl (History of the Latter Han): a small embankment or a small wall. However, the biography of Ma Yüan recounts that as Grand Administrator of Lung-hsi,bm he memorialized for the construction of a wuhoubn so as to defend against raids by the Ch'iang people. In this case, wu clearly denoted a military stronghold. The construction of a wu in this sense can also be found in the Chü-yenbo wood strips of the Former Han.[32] These were installations for border defense against the Hsiung-nu, and in the Latter Han they were prepared particularly against Ch'iang raids. At the time of the great Ch'iang uprising at the beginning of the second century, it was recorded that wu-hou were installed in 616 strategic positions deep inland so as to link the T'ai-hang[33] mountain range with the North China plain.

The reason for constructing wu was not simply as defense against external attack, however. In times of civil war, the general populace banded together for self-protection and what they built were called ying,bppi,bq and The expression wu was also used in this context, the earliest example appearing during the disorders at the end of the reign of Wang Mang. When the Latter Han dynasty was established, the government ordered these installations evacuated and the people returned to agriculture.[34] During the rebellions at the end of the Latter Han, wu were again set up over a wide area. Once again, during the Yung-chia uprising of 307 under the Western Chin, the


creation of self-protective groups based on the wu form spread widely. As is well known, the uprising of 307 caused many Han Chinese to migrate to various areas. They moved in groups as a means of avoiding hardship, or they established wu at certain points where they congregated. Naba's study shows that the heads of these itinerant bands were called hsing-chubs and the persons in charge of wu were called wu-chu. bt

Conditions determining the location of wu were in no way uniform. If we judge from the circumstances of the creation of wu recorded in the Shui-ching-chu[35] (Commentary to the Classic of Waterways ) and elsewhere, however, it seems that there was a strong proclivity toward utilizing naturally strategic positions. For example, I-ho (unified) wu built near the Lo River got its name from being twenty chang bu tall, with three sides (south, north, and east) surrounded by natural bluffs, and the west side alone barricaded by manpower.[36] Also, there was reported to have been a wu in the Lo River basin by the name of Yün-chung wubv ("amidst the clouds") because clouds and haze trailed along continuously over the steep mountains there.[37] Apparently, quite a number of wu were purposefully constructed in areas with natural defenses. In order to manage a group livelihood in such places, provisions for weaponry, foodstuffs, and the like were necessary. The groups planned particularly for self-sufficiency in food by cultivating the mountain lands.

It was only natural then that life in such a wu formed a virtually separate universe. The group life that transpired in these remote mountainous areas out of contact with the external world often stirred up images of Utopia in the imaginations of outsiders. In fact, T'ao Yüan-ming'sbw famous work, T'ao-hua yüan chibx (Peach Blossom Spring), is said to have been modeled on the contemporary world of a wu. The advocate of this theory, Ch'en Yin-k'o, argues that Tai Yen-chih,by who served in the army in Liu Yü'sbz Ch'ang-an campaign in the last years of the Western Chin, explored the upper reaches of the Lo River in compliance with his orders; unable to find the river's source, he turned back midway. It was at this point, however, that he came across Po-ku wu,ca T'an-shan wu,cb and a place by the name of T'ao-yü Mr. Tai wrote up a report of his survey under the title Hsi-cheng chicd (Report on


the western expedition), and T'ao Yüan-ming used it as his source, Ch'en argues, for T'ao-hua yüan chi.[38]

In short, Ch'en's point is that T'ao-hua yüan chi was not simply the product of a literary imagination but was written on the basis of actual wu of the day. This conception leads us to the idea that the life of the people in the wu was a product of the desire to escape the turbulent world and preserve a peaceful society. For this reason, it was seen as a Utopia from the outside. In order for such a notion to have been conveyed, a moral order had to have been sustained among the inhabitants of the wu. If the wu had been the scene of fighting, it would not have been possible for it to preserve its life secluded from the outside world, and it surely could not have become the object of Utopian images. In the T'ao-hua yüan chi, the recluse Liu Lin-chihce from Kiangnan learns of "T'ao-yüan" secondhand, plans to travel there, but is unable to do so because he dies of illness. "T'ao-yüan" became the object of recluse Liu's longing because it was seen both inside and out as a peaceful world free of strife.

Personal Bonds in the Wu. What sort of society was this world of the wu which people of the day perceived as a Utopia? Let us look at the group under T'ien Ch'oucf of the Three Kingdoms era, which has frequently drawn the attention of historians in the past. Seeking revenge against enemies of his superior, T'ien Ch'ou led a group of "several hundred fellow clansmen and other dependent people" into a seclusion in the mountains of Hsü-wueg (Hopei). Later, many "common folk" (pai-hsing )ch joined them until they expanded several years later into a huge band of over five thousand families.[39]

By this account, the structural components of the group were "clansmen," "dependents," and "common folk." The "dependents" have been seen as various kinds of servants, but their identity remains unclear. The "common folk" were primarily self-sufficient farmers. The Chin-shu (History of the state of Chin) speaks of "clansmen and commoners"[40] with respect to the structure of Yü Kun'sci group (late Western Chin), which I shall discuss later; and, similarly, it notes that Ch'ih Chien'scj group was put together by "clansmen and local people."[41] It seems from these and other examples of the wu structure


that the group centered around the leader's clansmen and included families with different surnames from the same local origin, common people who came from near and far seeking refuge, and various people of subordinate status. Hence, these were not pure kinship groupings but included a wide variety of non-blood-related elements. Also, the more they expanded, the greater was this tendency.

By the time things had come to this stage, the group had to have an established rule of order, the first requirement for which was to decide on a group leader. Since both T'ien Ch'ou and Yü Kun appealed for heads to be chosen for the groups, they were themselves selected by popular demand. Other heads of wu and hsingck (itinerant groups) were selected under similar circumstances. Worthy of note here is that wu and hsing leaders were picked through recommendation by reputation. In this way, people chose their own rulers, an expression of total group unity through which people sought mutual cohesion. Thus, in the very way the rulers were picked we can see the nature of this group bond.

It was with this concern in mind that men of the right character were chosen to be wu and hsing heads, and they were men who had gained the confidence of their clansmen and fellow villagers as a whole. This tie built on trust continued after the formation of a refugee group. The basic impetus bringing about such ties was the relief activities of leaders toward their clansmen and fellow local villagers. That is, by dividing up their personal wealth among the people in need and thereby saving lives, these men earned a debt of gratitude from the people. It became a common pattern for people to be deeply respectful of such a personal quality and look up to such men as their leaders.

Nonetheless, the reason this relief-gratitude bond could cohere in the ruling structure of the social group cannot have been independent of the economic conditions of the time. In the severe famines of the day, even literati had no easy time staying alive. In the "Biography of Ch'ih Chien"cl cited in the chapter "Te-hsing" cm of the Shih-shuo hsin-yücn (New sayings from the talk of the times), it says that when the grave famine conditions caused by the uprising of 307 struck, the possessions held by literati and commoners were divided up to give Ch'ih Chien


something. This incident was also recorded with different phrasing in his biography in the Chin-shu, where it goes on to say that Ch'ih Chien divided up the resources he had received among the' impoverished in his clan and local villagers.

The fact that in a time of starvation he was given provisions by an acquaintance reveals the high status held by Ch'ih Chien. By further distributing these provisions to others, he was seen as ever more personally high-minded. Thus, the act of personal sacrifice was twofold: Ch'ih Chien, the recipient of an act of individual sacrifice, becomes offerer of the same, and his biography lauds him for it. (It was precisely because of such personal qualities that Ch'ih Chien was later chosen as head of a wu. )

Such an act of personal sacrifice became the opportunity to bind two people spiritually, because it spawned a sense of gratitude on the part of the recipient of the act. The one who offered the relief gave up his attachment to goods in his personal possession and, in an act of justice (an act in compliance with the dictates of his own spirit), he roused the spirits of those he assisted and stirred up a sense of admiration among them for him.

Men who were able to transcend a position of selfishness or profit in this way and come to a world of justice, however, had to be men whose character had fulfilled this spirituality. From the past this role had been played by literati, and it was never simply by chance that leaders of the sort just described came from renowned families in their respective villages. They were practitioners as individuals of literati ethics.

Although ordinary people who lived every day under these straitened circumstances might be liable to act not from a position of justice but rush to one of immediate profit, literati by virtue of their intentions could surpass men of this nature (a hypocritical tendency among literati was born of this as well). They thus surpassed ordinary men spiritually. In their adoration for the personal qualities of such men, the common people were able to correct their own moral lives. If this inclination on the part of common men to seek profit in their daily lives had been left to its own course, conflicts of interest among the populace would have arisen everywhere and the group's livelihood would have fallen into chaos and disorder. The existence of literati leaders had the effect of suppressing this and offering an ethical order to the group.


Once T'ien Ch'ou and Yü Kun had been selected as wu heads, they implemented the various regulations and institutions decided upon. T'ien Ch'ou laid down over twenty items in the "Laws concerning bloodshed, violence, theft, and litigation"co upon which he pledged his word to the people. In addition, he instituted "Rules for marriages"cp and revived "Facilities for schools and instruction."cq Clearly, he was attempting to establish an ethico-ritual order for the life of this closed-off group in the mountains of Hsü-wu. This objective preserved the group bond and was a revenge upon the lord-servant relationship. What T'ien Ch'ou feared most was that if bloodshed and violence were stirred up among the members of the group, the group itself would fall apart and his objective would not be attained.

The same can be said in the case of Yü Kun. He advocated the need for the maintenance of morality among his group's members: "Be not reliant on forts nor seek help in disasters. Be not violent toward neighbors nor destructive of homes. Do not cut and gather wood planted by others. Seek not to act immorally nor commit an injustice. Let us bring together our physical and mental strengths and together care for those in distress." The intent here as well was to prevent the outbreak of trouble through an ethical consciousness, while preserving the existence of the group.

Once he had gained acceptance of his aims by the people, Yü Kun went to work on actual construction for the common welfare by using a natural stronghold to erect wu walls. It was said that: "He took into account the labor involved, devised measures, allocated labor equitably, parceled resources fairly, repaired equipment, and utilized individual capacities to the best end." The necessary realistic concern for the preservation of the group's life prompted a fairness in the labor and livelihood of the people, seen in the establishing of labor quotas and the fixing of weights and measures. In calling for the recommendations of the wisest men in each village to form a leadership structure for the group, he was carrying on a "communitarian" mode of operations for local village society and working to spread the ethico-ritual spirit throughout the entire body.

As we have seen thus far, the wu group of this time was never merely a cluster of refugees but a "communitarian" band centered around a virtuous leader. What made such a "communal"


bond possible was the moral consciousness of each person in the group. Still, this moral consciousness was not divorced from everyday life. This was morally essential for the management of a common livelihood under the distinctive conditions of a wu. The group had a common political orientation, and cooperation among the members of the group was indispensable in the actual circumstances of life, such as the construction of the wu, forging of weapons, and securing of foodstuffs. Furthermore, since the people who gathered into such groups were not all blood-related, groups were mixtures of a variety of unrelated persons, which seems to have necessitated a strong moral awareness among the constituent members of the group.

From the picture of the wu as we have reconstructed it, the "communitarian" universe sought by the eremitic scholars and common people in the late Latter Han seems to have emerged in a subsequent period of convulsion and to have endured in the daily lives of people for a long period of time. While this way of life evoked an exceedingly idealized image, its ideology was indispensable for the continuance of life through such hard times. And thus the wu emerges with a host of different faces.

The Six Dynasties period is known as the era of the aristocracy. What then was the connection between the Six Dynasties aristocratic system and this "communitarian" universe? As noted earlier, the fact that many of the leaders of wu groups were of aristocratic origins with old or great surnames offers one suggestion for dealing with this issue. In the next section, I should like to focus directly on the issue of the aristocracy.

The Autonomous World of the Six Dynasties Aristocracy

The Social Base of the Six Dynasties Aristocracy. As discussed earlier, the structure of Wei-Chin society differed from that of the ancient period in that it took form on the basis of qualitatively new "communitarian" relations. These social bonds should then have been operative throughout the aristocratic system established in this period. In this section, I should like to verify such a prediction.

What was it that gave form to the Six Dynasties aristocracy as a ruling class in this period? Many people have already


pointed out the difficulties involved in seeing a manorial system or a large landownership system as necessary preconditions for this aristocracy. It is more appropriately regarded as a bureaucratic aristocracy or an aristocracy of culture than as a landed aristocracy. I agree that this is undoubtedly true as an expression of the form of the Six Dynasties aristocratic ruling class. But, I feel that two questions have yet to be thoroughly investigated: (1) If we call them a bureaucratic aristocracy, does that imply that their essence as a class was merely as servants to the emperor? and (2) If we call them an aristocracy of culture, what was their relationship to contemporary society?[42] In short, the unresolved problem remains the class basis of the Six Dynasties aristocracy.

There is more to it than this, though, for the very importance of this problem has apparently not been realized as yet. More generally, the issue is one of how class relations existed without the direct mediation of relations of ownership over the means of production. Thus, it would seem as though this may offer an important hint for explaining the distinctive structure of Chinese history. For this reason, I have in recent years asserted the existence of a medieval "community" at the basis of Six Dynasties society, and I have discussed the logical structure of this assertion in other writings.[43] Still, much of the criticism of colleagues regarding my work has disappointed me. They cling stubbornly to their own historical views, and few seem aware of the need for flexible thought in which an understanding of Chinese history is not trapped in preconceptions. In other words, they fail to recognize how postwar studies of Chinese history have become miserably bungled because of a lack of such thought.[44]

To summarize the points thus far raised in connection with this issue,[45] the literati ethic of self-restraint toward worldly desires (wealth and power) brought into existence a "communitarian" cohesiveness in family, patrilineage, and local village—the literati universe. Personal evaluations or hsiang-luncr (evaluation based on local reputation) which revolved around this ethic provided the qualifications for leadership in society. The class position of the Six Dynasties aristocracy was grounded in this hsiang-lun and served as the base for their autonomous status vis à vis dynastic authority.


The ruling structure of the Six Dynasties aristocracy—I shall be looking particularly at the Northern Dynasties—clearly possessed the shared pattern of a "communitarian" bond centered on a moral intelligentsia, as seen in the Taoist and wu groupings. A new orientation toward "community" which becomes evident in the late Latter Han was systematized as the Six Dynasties aristocratic system. More to the point, it was the aristocratic stratum in the Six Dynasties which, riding the crest of this orientation, established itself as a ruling class. The most concrete, structural manifestation of their institutionalization was the Nine Ranks recruitment system for the bureaucracy.

The Six Dynasties aristocracy were superintendents of the moral "community." For people familiar with a historical conception of development modeled on European history, this view may seem exceedingly idealized, but if we are to address the actualities of China's distinctive civil bureaucratic society directly and try to clarify its structure—at the intellectual center of which were Confucian principles—then we must trace the points of contact between this spirit and society. Furthermore, this was not simply a world of ideas. The class basis for the Six Dynasties aristocracy did not form as a direct function of material means but existed at a level in which this was transcended by the spiritual realm. By spiritual realm is meant not simply the universe originally enjoyed by individual aristocrats but the real human relations that brought together an ethically based society (social contacts within family, patrilineage, and local village, and among literati). Here was the essence of the society supporting this aristocratic class as rulers, and it was the essence of this society that enabled the Six Dynasties aristocracy to gain autonomy as a ruling class.

Spurred by the aristocratic spirit, this society formed the foundation that gave clear expression to itself. The antinomian positions of the side spurring and the side being acted on met here, and their synthesis composed "aristocratic society." The aristocratic class was able to achieve autonomy from dynastic authority by being supported by this world. Simultaneously, they enjoyed an independent existence in the formation of this world itself. The aristocracy's spiritual work on behalf of the objective world was not offered merely to gain popularity in public opinion—or even a good post in the


bureaucracy. I cannot claim that such a utilitarian consciousness was totally absent, for it was characteristic of the Chinese not to lapse into an excessive fastidiousness with respect to utilitarianism. However, it seems likely that this spiritual world originally existed among the aristocracy, and the spiritual realm of the Six Dynasties aristocracy existed in a profound way as an issue in their lives. We need to penetrate this internal universe if we are to recognize the strong class autonomy of the Six Dynasties aristocracy and locate its foundation in the moral "community" created by the relations between them and the people.

The Spirit of Transcending the Mundane. When we examine the spiritual way of life of the Six Dynasties aristocracy, we cannot assess it simply as asceticism, as several examples may demonstrate. Ts'ui Po-ch'iencs of Po-lingct was satisfied to live according to the "way of refinement" (ya-tao )cu and refused to have contact with or seek advancement from Ts'ui Hsien,cv a younger member of his clan, who was a powerful official of the Eastern Wei court.[46]

Then there was Lu I-hsicw of Fan-yangcx who, at the end of the Northern Wei, for many years remained in a leisurely sinecure and retained a nonchalant attitude. When urged to meet with important officials and request advancement, he refused, saying: "I have learned the way of the former kings, and I revere the implementation of their will. Why need I seek any wealth and fame at all?"[47]

There is also the following anecdote about Lu. The court favorite of the Empress Ling,cy Li Shen-kuei,cz sought the hand of Lu's daughter in marriage, but Lu rejected the offer and married her into another family. Upon hearing this, the Empress dispatched a secret imperial messenger on the night of the wedding with an order to stop the ceremony. Undaunted, Lu I-hsi showed no sign of being upset. Were he to have sought wealth or glory by any means, then forging a marriage liaison with such an influential man would surely have been a shortcut. At the time, the end of the Northern Wei, such a trend had become rather general. However, Lu was too proud to "seek any wealth and fame at all" and wanted to live according to the "way of the former kings." The case of Ts'ui Po-ch'ien was the


same. Rather than follow the authorities in power and pursue personal distinction, he chose to live peacefully in his own world with the "way of refinement."

As these common examples describe, glory in the bureaucratic world was not necessarily the one and only way of life for concerned aristocrats. The reason they did not boldly pursue their own advancement was not simply out of moral propriety but because they considered it most important that a realm that sustained their attitudes toward life exist and that they live in it. This realm was the "way of refinement" for Ts'ui and the "way of the former kings" for Lu; for both we might call it the realm of the "way" (tao ).da This was a spiritual realm transcending the mundane world, as the term "way of refinement" aptly expressed. Primary for these people was dependency on it and life within it. It would seem that because they possessed this spiritual realm within themselves, they could achieve a freedom from having their minds trapped in the affairs of the mundane world.

What actually constituted this spiritual realm that I have just dubbed the realm of the "way?" Looking again at Lu I-hsi's words, we see that he did not deny wealth and fame in and of themselves. He was too proud to "seek any wealth and fame at all," or to keep after men in authority and gain wealth and fame with their help. For Lu, the position of wealth and fame ought to have been the result of having "learned the way of the former kings and having implemented their will." He considered that a desire for wealth and power which dispensed with these basic principles was shameful for a scholarly man. In this conception, it was the interiority of a human being—his learning and its application—that had to determine that person's social position. And no external element could be vital in the establishment of that position.

The notion that the political position of the aristocracy had to be this way was not limited to Lu I-hsi. The family of Li Hsiao-chendb of Chao-chün,dc who served the Northern Ch'i court, repeatedly formed marriage relations with the imperial household, beginning with his female cousin who became empress to Emperor Wen-hsüandd (r. 550–560). Li's brothers both had attained success through their own literary talents and were embarrassed by the fact that they were [now] maternal relatives."[48]


Also, there was a fascinating exchange between Wei Shoude (author of the Wei-shu ) and Ts'ui Lingdf (from a famous clan in Ch'ing-ho prefecture). Although the two men had been at odds for some time, when Wei as an emissary to the state of Liang passed through Hsü-chou, Ts'ui (the governor of Hsü-chou) sallied forth in a state procession of great pomp to meet him and had another man address Wei: "Fear not the many ceremonial bodyguards; there is strength in cultivation." And Wei responded: "Tell Ts'ui of Hsü-chou that perhaps there is merit in raising troops, perhaps there is some cultivation involved." Always proud of his pedigree, Ts'ui became extremely angry upon hearing these words.[49]

Ts'ui was a man who had reached a high position in the Eastern Wei state through meritorious service at the time Kao Huandg had raised an army (to quell a rebellion against the throne). Wei Shou pointed out that Ts'ui's position as governor of Hsü-chou owed nothing to cultivated learning, and ridiculed him for having gotten it by depending on men in power.

As these two examples demonstrate, the aristocracy of the period were proud of having attained their political positions not by relying on the powers that be but through their cultured talents (cultivation), in which they had trained themselves in literature and scholarship. Wei's aloofness from Ts'ui's mundane concerns represents a common notion among the aristocracy then. There is a certain thread connecting Lu I-hsi's and Ts'ui Po-ch'ien's rejection of "seeking any wealth and fame at all" with the realm of the "way" in which they sought to live. In other words, the notion that a human being's position in society should be based of necessity on this internal realm is common to these cases. Also, it was implicitly clear that learning gave expression to this internal realm as knowledge. In short, it is no exaggeration to say that cultivated learning was what enabled the Six Dynasties aristocracy to have autonomy as a ruling class. This supports the view, mentioned earlier, of a cultivated aristocracy, but we must go on to ask what was meant by "learning" as the intellectual expression of the internal realm of the aristocracy.

The Meaning of Learning for the Six Dynasties Aristocracy. Yen Chih-t'uidu has the following to say in his Yenshih chia-hsün (Family instructions for the Yen clan).[50]


People do not always have the support of a family or local village. If forced into exile, they would have no one to protect them and would have to look out for themselves. The most appropriate skill with which to be equipped under such circumstances, Yen argued, was book learning. This was Yen Chiht'ui's perception of learning, acquired through the lengthy experience of having tasted the bitterness of wandering from the states of Liang to Northern Chou,di and on to Northern Ch'i,dj and from there back to Northern Chou, and on to For Yen, a literatus in search of the final authority upon which to base his life would find it not in the family or in the local village but in the learning he acquired for himself.

Yen's view of learning reflected a social trend of that time when the system of a pedigreed aristocracy was rapidly declining. As Yoshikawa Tadao has noted, one pervasive feature of that time was a belief in a principle that stressed the importance of men of ability.[51] However, the origin of the aristocratic system, in the last analysis, was neither the clan nor the local village, but in fact the very learning cultivated by literati—namely, their autonomous spirit. This point needs further study, but Yen Chih-t'ui's words speak to the value of knowledge of books as a way to make a living. What, after all, was the true objective of book learning or scholarship?

Yen Chih-t'ui gave the following answer to this question: "The reason for reading and studying is primarily to open one's mind and clarify one's vision in order to benefit one's conduct."[52] In other words, the significance of reading and scholarship was that they enabled people to live their lives through the development of knowledge. Yen criticized well-read men who did not live in a fashion corresponding to their learning, and he stressed that knowledge of books should be linked to practice. Yet how are knowledge and practice connected? Yen argued that men who had not behaved in a filial manner toward their parents would learn through books of the deeds of past men who had served their parents devotedly, reflect on themselves and feel a strong sense of shame, and then resolve to act in accordance with prescriptions of filiality.

And this learning would apply not only to parental obedience. Men who had not known to serve a lord would learn from the loyal acts of past men, reflect on themselves, and


resolve to sacrifice themselves in allegiance. Men who had been profligate would study the ethics of humility exemplified in the actions of past men and ponder living that way themselves. Men who had originally been miserly and avaricious would learn, through the deeds of past men, of the generosity of stressing justice, self-restraint, and charity; and then they would strive for these ends themselves. Similarly, men of violence would learn from men of the past the commendable morality of tolerance and change their earlier attitudes; while cowards, inspired by the bravery of past men, would seek to live their lives with courage.

Yen lists many other objectives to learning, but the idea he expressed was that one would realize through the actions of the ancients that one was not living as befit one's character and, through a profound, penetrating self-reflection, take a step to putting such a life into practice. Thus, knowledge was transformed into action through a kind of mental conversion.

What gave rise to this conversion that mediated knowledge and action? Clearly, it was the result of realizing one's immorality in comparison with the ethical behavior of the ancients. If we delve a little deeper into this opposition between morality and immorality, we find a fundamental difference over what constitutes a human being, for a spirit of selflessness impelled men to act morally and egotism impelled men to immorality. For example, in order for filiality—acting in a devoted manner to one's parents—to come into existence, the individuality of the child had to be obliterated. Loyalty to state and sovereign resembled this. Surely, there were a variety of ways of expressing this spirit of selflessness when it came to humility, stressing justice over wealth, self-restraint, giving charity, and acting tolerantly. Also, courage was itself the result of transcending egotism. The moral actions of the ancients were permeated with this spirit of selflessness. In contrast to the pure and noble character of such men, the self was merely the spokesman of a narrow egotism in one's relationship with parents, sovereign, and others. Thus, one became aware of a fierce sense of shame before this degeneration of a selfish humanity which this comparison illuminated. And, on the basis of a change of heart, the determination to put morality into practice was born.

The aim of reading and learning for Yen Chih-t'ui, as we


have seen, was to awaken men to pursue moral and righteous ways through self-reflection. This conversion was an awakening to one's own ignominious bearing, illuminated by the moral acts of past men and cooped up in one's egotism. Thus, "learning" for Yen also possessed a religious nature; or, rather, it was not limited merely to a conception of learning. In the words of Lu I-hsi, whom we met earlier—"I have learned the way of the former kings, and I revere the implementation of their will. Why need I seek any wealth and fame at all?"—learning is also connected directly to practice, and Lu was attempting to transcend the realm of selfishness inherent in "seeking any wealth and fame at all." I have already referred to this as the universe of the "way," a kind of transcendent spiritual realm. The intellectual structure supporting and legitimizing it was learning. This was both the learning of ethical norms and an understanding of history as indicated by the practices of "the ancients" who bequeathed "the way of the former kings." Hence, it was not simply an abstracted metaphysics.

The importance of learning for the Six Dynasties aristocracy may now be a bit clearer. The selfless spirit of the aristocracy became a daily ethic in their appeal to the world around them. It formed the pivot for "communitarian" cohesion in the outside world, and it was learning that nurtured this spirit. In other words, literati learning at that time can be seen as an intellectual system aimed at human education. The ethical activities of the Six Dynasties aristocracy carried on the long and rich tradition of scholarship centered on the classics. Hence, this scholarship was conducted and accumulated with a focus on the realization of the moral "communitarian" realm in Chinese society. The literati, the aristocracy of the day, mediated this learning for society.

Generally, the Six Dynasties aristocracy may be called men of learning, like Yen Chih-t'ui. The famous clans of the Northern dynasties such as Ts'ui, Lu, Li, and Cheng each produced formidable scholars of great erudition. We cannot list each and every one of them, but in the biography of Li Tzu-hsiungdl from Chao-chün it says: "Although his family had for generations established itself through scholarship, Li Tzu-hsiung alone studied equestrianship and archery. His elder brother Tzutandm called him to task for this, saying 'to discard the word


(wen )dn and revere the sword (wu )do is no way for a literatus to be.'"[53] Thus, learning itself was not only the indispensable grounding for a literatus but also a family occupation by which one established oneself with each generation.

To say that learning served as the existential basis for the aristocracy may not be an exaggeration. The fount of the qualifications befitting a leader in society lay in his personal qualities, and what nurtured these qualities was in fact learning. The basic significance of the point that the Six Dynasties aristocracy was an aristocracy of culture should now be apparent. Private ownership of the means of production did not directly establish their social position. Rather, transcending the direct control over the means of production, it was grounded in their being leaders who integrated a society structured around individual owners. Their leadership was accordingly intellectual and moral, and learning served an indispensable function in ruling the people.

In order to clarify the meaning of learning in this context more fully, we have to examine what it actually entailed, but that cannot be done here. If I might add one word though, the essential point for literati learning was of course its moral scope, and thus classical scholarship was of central importance. Yet the Yen-shih chia-hsün deplored the fact that learned men of the day lacked knowledge of jurisprudence and civil administration, to say nothing of their ignorance of architecture or agriculture, and incurred the ridicule of military men and petty functionaries. Literati learning actually included knowledge for practical learning of this sort.

A look through the biographies of Northern aristocrats shows that the learning they attained—yin-yang, astronomy, mathematics, the calendar, medicine, divination, and prediction based on the direction and sound of the winds—while not necessarily orthodox, did include fields in the life sciences. However, we also find the metaphysics of Taoism and Buddhism, as well as literature as a form of expressionism. As noted earlier, learning was itself a form of historical understanding, and with the development of genealogical study, historiography at this time pioneered its own distinctive field. Thus, at the mountain peak of learning stood classical scholarship, and at its foot was an extremely broad mixture of metaphysical and material


fields that seemed to form an expansive system. While this composed the intellectual basis for transcendence by the Six Dynasties aristocracy, it was also the source for praxis in the objective world.

Why did a cultured aristocracy established on the basis of learning result in a system of pedigree? "Learning" was an activity aimed at the formation of acquired character. I have not yet worked out fully my own ideas on this issue, but as we have seen, the intellectual system of that time did not exist simply as objective knowledge but seems to have been an embodiment of an exceptional personalism or transcendence. Thus, if one recognized the need for human qualities to match a mastery of learning, then might this not usher in a status system of pedigree?

There is an inescapable contradiction here, however. One's acquired nature, which is ancillary to learning, conflicts with the innate qualities of a wise man. The emergence of the principle of laying stress on men of talent as opposed to that of pedigree was a necessary process in this sense. That the cultured aristocracy would eventually spawn an examination system should be seen as a natural conclusion. Yen Chih-t'ui's bitterness in decrying the ignorant ways of high-born sons who had earned the ridicule of military men and petty officials ought to indicate negatively the inseparable link between the Six Dynasties aristocratic system and learning.

The States of the Northern Dynasties, Sui, and T'ang, and the "Community" Ethic

The Han Chinese Aristocracy and the Regimes of the Five Barbarians and the Northern Wei. We have thus far concentrated our discussion on the autonomy of the Han Chinese aristocracy as a ruling class in North China. Now we need to delve more deeply into the history of their relationship to state power. Under the regimes of the "Five Barbarians"—non-Chinese peoples of the Northern dynasties—their position as a ruling class was not fully established in the political sense. Especially from the period of the Five Barbarians through the first half of the Northern Wei, the state was organized in a dual Han-barbarian structure in which each race was put under a


respective ruling system. The non-Chinese peoples still retained the vestiges of their tribal "community"' from the era when they had lived outside China's borders; this was particularly evident in the changes in the organization of their military, which made up the core of state power.[54]

When a state so heavily colored by its alien rulers came to rule the North China plain, it encompassed Han society under its control. The aristocrats who were the leaders in Han society naturally were appointed as officials. Some of these officials of aristocratic origin were active in central politics and on occasion became leaders of state, enjoying the full confidence of the sovereign. Examples would include Chang Pindp under Shih Lodq [274–333, founder of the Latter Chaodr dynasty], Wang Mengds under Fu Chiendt [338–385, head of the Former Ch'in],du and Ts'ui Hungdv and Ts'ui Haodw (father and son) in the early years of the Northern Wei. Many Han Chinese aristocrats became high or subordinate officials in their native districts and spent their lives in their local villages.

The bureaucratization of Han aristocrats, however, did not mean that they participated in state power in a completely subjective manner, for sovereignty remained in the hands of the non-Chinese. The "slip of the pen" incident involving Ts'ui Hao, which occurred during the reign of Emperor T'ai-wudx [r. 424–452] of the Northern Wei, made this realization bitterly clear for Han aristocrats. The incident originated when the Northern Wei national history being written by Ts'ui Hao and others incurred the animosity of the aliens. It was said that Ts'ui had been actively maneuvering to reorganize the Northern Wei into an aristocratic state, and this invited a barbarian reaction. As is well known, along with the steady progress made in the unification of North China in the time of Emperor T'ai-wu, Han aristocrats entered political circles in large numbers. The absolute confidence that the Emperor T'ai-wu placed in Ts'ui Hao caused the illusion to arise that a barbarian regime was now apparently being transformed into a Han-style aristocratic state. As a result, Ts'ui was executed (in 450) and those implicated extended to the Ts'ui family and the Shantung aristocratic families related by marriage to them.

As this indicated, the political discrimination of barbarian and Han was strictly enforced in the unified Northern Wei state.


The political role of the barbarians in the Northern Wei state was primarily military. Troops at the center and in the localities consisted mostly of soldiers of barbarian roots. To non-Chinese fighters who achieved military successes there opened the road to civil officialdom. This point would lead one to believe that the structure of the state, at least in an overall sense, was not formed by an aristocratic system.

In the dozen or so years after T'ai-wu was assassinated by the eunuch Tsung Ai,dy bloodly secret feuds occurred within the Northern Wei imperial court. In this interval there was no external expansion. By the time Emperor Hsien-wendz [r. 466–471] had succeeded in annexing the Shantung region, it seems that the extent of contact between the Northern Wei state and Northern Chinese society was considerably deepened. Emperor Hsiao-wen'sea [r. 471–500] decisive moving of the capital to Lo-yang thereafter was apparently a result of these conditions, for earlier the government had inaugurated policies for structuring the agricultural society of North China. We see this in the early years of Hsiao-wen's reign when the Empress Wen-mingeb held control of the government with the creation of the "three chiefs" (san-chang )ec and equitable field (chün-t'ien )ed systems. These policies may reveal the connections at the time between the barbarian regime and the Han Chinese aristocrats.

The Equitable Field System and Aristocratic Ethics. The view has recently gained favor of looking at the equitable field system as an extension of the system of per capita land allocation (chi-k'ou shou-t'ien ),ee which flourished in the years of the unification wars under Emperor T'ai-wu.[55] My own view differs in no way from the notion of a linkage in the history of agricultural management policy of the Northern Wei state between per capita land allocation and the equitable field system. But the problem lies in what meaning we are to attach to this linkage. Many commentators have understood this as a state policy flexing its external muscles vis à vis Han aristocrats (and hence a policy to repress the Han aristocracy). There is also the position that sees this as a distinctly non-Chinese policy. What view are we to assume? Clearly, behind the system of per capita land allotment lay a policy for handling a con-


quered people under state power, known as the relocation policy. The equitable field system itself was a kind of policy to limit land ownership with the premise of state intervention. It can be assumed that the functions of this state power gave rise to these earlier perspectives, but this is still a rather simplistic understanding of the problem.

With the relocation policy that lay behind the system of per capita land allotment, the state moved the conquered people to strategic environs near the capital and put into effect centralized control over these areas. The per capita land allotment system supplied land to people in accordance with the labor power possessed by the migrant populace and looked toward the establishment of a self-cultivating peasantry as the basic structure for Han society. The principle of the equitable field system shared this conception in that "the land is to be used by all and no man will be idle." When we examine the essence of these conceptions, a linkage is forged with the broad world of the self-managing peasantry.

The reconstruction of this world had been a problem since the time of Tung Chung-shu in the Former Han. Its aims through the policy to limit large landholdings had always ended in failure throughout the Han. A new characteristic from the Three Kingdoms on was to limit large landholdings and, as well, to institute a land allocation policy for the small peasantry. The linkage from "military colonies" (t'un-t'ien ),ef to "lands in possession" (chan-t'ien ) and "assessment lands" (k'e-t'ien ),[56] to the equitable field system testifies to this effect. The per capita land allotment system also, without a doubt, formed one part of this lineage.

What sort of social class gave rise to this string of policies? We know only that the name of the man who designed the equitable field system was Li An-shih,eg and we cannot overlook the fact that he came from the famous Li clan of Chao-chün. If we accept the view that the Six Dynasties aristocracy were large landowners, then we face a logical contradiction in that policies for limitations on large landholdings, like the equitable field system, were initiated by this very aristocracy. As we have seen thus far, however, the class base of the Six Dynasties aristocracy was not to be directly found here. Rather, it lay in an ethical bond with a society in which the self-managing peas-


antry were the backbone of the agricultural village. In other words, there was a mutual relationship between the moral ties of the aristocracy to the outside world and the societal reputation produced thereby. Aristocrats who did have large landholdings were deeply troubled for falling into rivalries with the self-cultivating peasants (contesting the people for profit), for they were supposed to function as an organ of relief for the people. The stress on justice over wealth, which was the proper literati bearing—namely, the life ethic of frugality, self-restraint, relief, and disinterest in one's own property—was not unconnected to landownership.

Thus, the principles of the equitable field system and the concept of landownership in the aristocratic ethic did not contradict each other but even shared a certain spirit. What were these large landholdings that the equitable field system tried to restrain? It was management over large tracts of land aimed at expanding the extravagances and profits of large landowners. This management established competitive relations with the self-cultivating peasantry and wiped them out, causing a polarization of the annexers and the propertyless. This circumstance not only ran contrary to the literati ethic but it also gave birth to an unbalanced relationship between land and labor power, resulting in an irrational state economy.

To say that those responsible for managing large landholdings did not include aristocrats would be an exaggeration. Cases in which the aristocratic class forgot the literati ethic on which it was founded and sought personal economic profit were not rare. Furthermore, this trend seems to have been rather closely linked to a tendency toward stabilizing the position of the aristocracy with the development of a system of pedigree. Gradually, they moved away from their original class base.

The equitable field system may then be seen as the original economic ethic of the aristocracy being systematized as a state land law under the state control of a barbarian people. In short, at the stage prior to Emperor Hsiao-wen's policy for aristocratic pedigree, there was ample room for the implementation of joint Han-barbarian government on the basis of this common principle.

The Base Structure of the Sui-T'ang Reunification. The "sin-


ification" policy during the period of Emperor Hsiao-wen's personal rule, however, aimed at changing the very nature of the state. With the withdrawal of earlier racial discrimination, the state attempted to organize a bureaucratic structure by differentiating scholars and commoners. Thus, the aristocratic system permeated state power, and the influence of Southern dynastic pedigrees was strongly felt as a consequence. The Han aristocracy adhered to state power, which completed the institutionalization of the aristocracy. The ruling position of the aristocratic class was guaranteed and fixed by the power of the state. Yet, in one regard this caused a deterioration of the aristocracy. Characteristic of the years after Hsiao-wen's reign were many cases where a decline in the literati ethic caused public rebuke of Han aristocrats.

Hsiao-wen's policy, though, proved unable conclusively to make the Han aristocracy bear the brunt of state power, for at this same time the main military force remained officers and troops of non-Chinese stock. Thus, when the Han aristocracy gained a preeminent political position, the non-Chinese military men were faced with a basic dilemma. Military service had carried with it the honor of being the cornerstone of the state; it had opened up opportunities for bureacratic advancement. But now, it only meant being a running dog of the Han Chinese aristocracy.

I have already discussed in detail elsewhere[57] how the explosion of this dilemma brought about the revolt of the central imperial guard and the uprising of the Six Commanderies, caused riots of the military households attached to the commanderies, and brought about the dissolution of the Northern Wei. When these uprisings occurred, the Han aristocrats tried to defend their positions by organizing militarily with local villagers. As noted earlier, the relationship between them and the local people (local militias) might best be seen as having made the everyday relationship of aristocrat and villager function militarily now. Thus, when the aristocratic class could no longer rely on the regime, they tried to confront the crisis with a latent power which they still held. The "communitarian" universe that formed the base structure for medieval Chinese society once again revealed itself quite clearly now.

As this development became institutionalized as a state structure, we can see its main traits. The fu-pingeh (militia)


system of the Western Wei, formed with the strong base of local blocs, provided the military backbone subsequently for the Northern Chou, Sui, and T'ang states, and demonstrated its tremendous might in the task of reunifying China. It had a qualitatively similar importance to the equitable field system, created with the principle of the aristocratic ethic in mind, which systematized agricultural management of these later unified states.

In order for the state institutionalization of the aristocratic ethic to be realized, there were generated various changes within the social structure of aristocratic rule. To describe this new type of aristocracy oriented toward these changes, I have used such expressions as the principle of stress on talent, new aristocratism, and enlightened aristocratism.[58] This new trend can be seen as well in the structure of these local militia bands, but of course this whole trend was later institutionalized in the examination system from the Sui dynasty onward.

Thus far, scholars have understood the flow toward China's reunification, which takes its source from the later Northern Dynasties, as the power of the state keeping the aristocrats down. No clear answer has been given to the question of the class nature of the ruling structure of this state. My own view on the Sui-T'ang empire comes back to the point that "communitarian" society of both Han and barbarian merged through mutual penetration and created a state based on these new aristocratic principles. This was a crystallization of the medieval "community" and in this sense may be regarded as the fulfillment of the medieval state. The direct root form of this completed state was the Western Wei and Northern Chou. The principle of the Western Wei's "Liu-t'iao chao-shu"ei (Edict of six articles) vividly indicated how the state worked to diffuse through itself the aristocratic ethos.[59]


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