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One— Transcending the World of Antiquity
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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.


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