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A World History of Ancient Political Thought$
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Antony Black

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199281695

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199281695.001.0001

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(p.92) 7 China
A World History of Ancient Political Thought

Antony Black (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The theory of the Mandate of Heaven implied a single monarch who, as Son of Heaven, rules for the benefit of the people. His mandate depends upon his virtue. Confucius taught that the well-being of society depended upon the reintroduction of traditional ethics (‘the rites’) and ‘humaneness’ (ren). People should be ruled by education and persuasion. The noble person should devote himself to public service. Rulers should only appoint worthy people to office. Ministers may admonish the ruler, and, if ignored, should retire from office. Mozi, on the other hand, rejected the traditional hierarchy and ethics altogether, and taught ‘universal love’. Others (‘Legalists’) recommended rule by coercion and command, exclusive devotion to agriculture and warfare, and realpolitik. Han Feizi combined this with the ‘inactive’ ruler, to suggest a new kind of monarchy governing exclusively through law and bureaucracy. The unified empire was achieved by violent realpolitik, but sustained by Confucian ideology.

Keywords:   mandate, the rites, humaneness, Confucius, public service, Mozi, Legalists, realpolitik, bureaucracy

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