Shizi: China's First Syncretist

Hardcover | July 3, 2012

Translated byPaul Fischer

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By blending multiple strands of thought into one ideology, Chinese Syncretists of the pre-imperial period created an essential guide to contemporary ideas about self, society, and government. Merging traditions such as Ruism, Mohism, Daoism, Legalism, and Yin-Yang naturalism into their work, Syncretists created an integrated intellectual approach that contrasts with other, more specific philosophies. Presenting the first full English translation of the earliest example of a Syncretist text, this volume introduces Western scholars to both the brilliance of the syncretic method and a critical work of Chinese leadership.

Written by Shi Jiao, China's first syncretic thinker, during the Warring States Period of 481 to 221 BCE, Shizi is similar to Machiavelli's The Prince in that it dispenses wisdom to would-be rulers. It stresses the need for leaders to be detached and objective. It further encourages self-cultivation and effective government, recommending that rulers maintain self-discipline, hire reliable people, delegate power transparently, and promote others in an orderly fashion. The people, it is argued, will emulate their leader's wisdom and virtue, and a just and peaceful state will result. Paul Fischer provides an extensive introduction and a chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis of the text-outlining the importance of syncretism in Chinese culture-and explores the text's particular features, authorship, transmission, loss, and reconstruction over time. The Shizi set the stage for a long history of syncretic endeavor in China, and its study provides insight into the vital traditions of early Chinese philosophy. It is also a template for interpreting other well-known works, such as the Confucian Analects, the Daoist Laozi, the Mohist Mozi, and the Legalist Shang jun shu.

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By blending multiple strands of thought into one ideology, Chinese Syncretists of the pre-imperial period created an essential guide to contemporary ideas about self, society, and government. Merging traditions such as Ruism, Mohism, Daoism, Legalism, and Yin-Yang naturalism into their work, Syncretists created an integrated intellect...

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

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:July 3, 2012Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231159064

ISBN - 13:9780231159067

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Table of Contents

IntroductionContentTransmissionKey TermsAnnotated Translation1. Exhortation to Learn (Quan xue)2. Honoring Words [of Good Advice] (Gui yan)3. Four Kinds of Proper Conduct (Si yi)4. The Enlightenment Hall (Ming tang)5. Allocation (Fen)6. Emerging from Delusion (Fa meng)7. Considerateness (Shu)8. Governing the World (Zhi tianxia)9. Good Intentions (Ren yi)10. Broad-mindedness (Guang)11. Generous Fellows (Chuo zi)12. Dwelling in the Way (Chu dao)13. Spiritous Enlightenment (Shen ming)14. Stopping the Chu Army (Zhi Chu shi)15. The Ruler's Governance (Jun zhi)Fragments (Yi wen)NotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Fischer has completed an excellent job of reconstructing the history behind the life and times of Master Shi and the transmission of extant fragments. His translation is fluid and easy to read... A welcome addition to the translations and interpretatios of ancient pre-Qin philosophical literature.