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Ru(儒)-political-religion and a semiotic re-description

Date:2015-11-15 04:17Author:youzhengli
Ru (儒) -political-religion and a semiotic re-description of Chinese academic-ideology (This is the original draft of this paper which is officially published in Journal of Political Criticism , vol.17, 2015, vol.18 2016, Seoul, Korea)

Ru(儒)-political-religion and a semiotic re-description of Chinese academic-ideology                          

(This is the original draft of this paper which is officially published in Journal of Political Criticism, vol.17, 2015, vol.18 2016, Seoul, Korea)

 Youzheng Li


1.    Introduction: total history and common denominator of power-structure

2.    The formation of Chinese ru(儒)-political heritage

3.    The establishment of ru(儒)-imperial system and its academic-historical ideology

The double-constitutive system of ru(儒)-historiography: the Five-Classics and the Standard History

The epistemological-pragmatic tension between the official ru(儒)

-learning of power philosophy and the private ren(仁)-learning of ethical subjectivity with respect to ru(儒)-imperial academic ideology


Current hermeneutic-semiotic-directed historical theory further emphasize that the contemporary historical-theoretical advancement should be based on arenewed concept of the total history including all historical civilizations of mankind. The most essential kernel shared by different historical heritages remains the descriptions and analyses of political-power-structures together with their various types of faith-ideological supplements. The ru(儒)

-Chinese-Empire continuously lasting over 2000 years is characterized by its richest and highly sophisticated academic-historiography-ideological system. The present paper attempts to outline the bi-compound structure of ru(儒)

-historiography andits universal meaning for understanding the detailed coexistence and interaction between the part of Chinese political-power-structure and that of ru(儒)-academic-historiography in the long Chinese feudalist history.

With respect to ru(儒)

-political-power structure, its direct fajia(法家)-operative-expressions (A), its system of academic-ideological faiths (B), its ren(仁)-ethical-antithesis (C) and their tri-part interactions in Chinese history are re-described and re-formulated from a new angle in this paper.


1. Introduction: total history and common denominator of power-structure

1.1  Total history and scientific-directed historical theory

Contemporary studies about the traditional Chinese historical scholarship are an intellectual interaction between the traditional Chinese literature and modern western theories. But we should get aware that all related scholarly terms in the humanities and comparative studies are semantically ambiguous and should be redefined in reference to contexts.[1] Even the usual term “history” refers either to the historical processes (realities) as such or to their representational textual products (works). Similarly, the western terms historiography and hermeneutics in their application in comparative studies need to be contextually readjusted too. In this paper historiography especially refers to the historical scholarship, studies and writings; and hermeneutics generally refers to the special perspectives and methods in connection with intellectual interaction or dialogue between ancient and modern historiographies as well as that between the western and non-western historiographies. The reminder ofusage of scholarly terms is especially due to comparative studies of the humanities across western and eastern as well as across modern and ancient intellectual spheres, because the terms used in different contexts indicate different semantic focuses and overtones, easily bringing about misleading understanding.


1.2  Historical records-sources and intelligent capability for determining scopes, scales,quality, typology and classification of historiography

Historical works and documents are the sources from which historical knowledge is organized. The quality and type of a certain historical knowledge firstly depends on the width, depth and scientific quality of the used sources available and involved intelligent feasibility alike. Since the inception of modern scientific-directed western historiography a new reasonable request has been raised that the historical-material sources used in modern western historiography should be as more universal as possible.

The idealist notion about universal or total history implies a presupposition about the objectivity of historical processes of mankind, which has nothing to do with the actual capability of realizing the ideal butrathermainly leads to areasonable formulation of historical-epistemological problems. The traditional ambiguity of term “history” is associated with the term “general or universal history”as such. For the term “general” or “universal” can refer to history-1 (range of works) or history-2 (scope of realities or processes). The original ambition in the history of modern western historiography even implies similar uncertain references. Usually, it refers to history-1, namely the comprehensive scope of historical writings across territories. However, if so, the idea is immediately linked to another reasonable question about the huge gap between the two different domains of history-1 and history-2, Naturally making a cognitive expansionism much less meaningful just because history-1 can hardly present a really complete picture of history-2. On the other side, the epistemological question can stimulate us to rethink about the implication of this gap itself.  A directly derived result lies in distinguishing the cognitive referent (history-2) and the scholarly object (history-1). Despite the existence of the epistemological gap mentioned above the historian is still requested to have a cognitive distinction between referent and object in his historiography. Simply speaking, historians cannot mix these two intuitively, although habitually they could tend to be blurred in scholarly practices. Regarding the ideal of formatting a total history, as the French Annales states, its relevant focus should be put on the represented comprehensive extent of history-2, but when different sources of history-1 have been organized ratherdivergently, the conceived extensive unification of different materials from history-1 would become less meaningful. Therefore the genuine referentof total history should lie in history-2, realities, althoughthat can be hardly attained actually.[2]

Regarding historical studies,historical narratives in general and periodic histories everywhere are written and compiled according to naturally occurred temporal-sequences and artificially (usually politically) divided temporal periods. In a word, historical works or historiographic studies are directly referred to the past historical processes appearing in artificially fixed temporal periodization. This intuitively shaped habitual way for historical periodization has been based on a common-sense understanding that historical works are “correspondentto” (similarly representativeof) the referred historical realities. Now we get aware that this intuitively felt corresponding relationshipcompletely relies on the historiography-making technologies, which are obviously divergent with respect to different ages and areas. As a result, the periodization based on natural temporal sequence in historiography becomes even less reasonable.

This habit of historical writing already indicates a notional confusion concerning the concept “object” of historical writings, for most historians cannot really take the represented historical processes as their object of studies, editing and writing. Simply, they can by no means get access to that processes as such for they already disappeared forever. (The epistemological difficulty of the sociologic-central historiography is involved here) The true objects of historians can only be the available verbal and nonverbal materials or preserved documents. Therefore what determine the scope, depth, quality and types of historical writings are above all related to the quantity and quality of available materials or documents and the related technical conditions, rather than to the referred objectively periodized historical processes. Generally, the informational gap between historical processes and their related historical representations in connection with old histories are in fact extremely large and wide to different extents. Moreover, in addition to the available documents, another relevant factor is about related scientific-operated knowledge that has been also changeable with respect to different historical periods and geographic areas. Until the arrival ofmodern times the scientific-directed historical scholarship had been obviously weaker. However,the situation has been gradually changed for the past hundred years when modern sciences and technology have developed extensively and quickly with a result that the quantity and quality of contemporary historical records and representations have attained unprecedentedly higher level everywhere. A remarkable character of contemporary historical representations is indicated by multiple disciplines and technology at different dimensions and planes. For example, journalism and military intelligences together with many other modern disciplines and research means have been all conductive to richly increasing quantity and quality of preserved historical records and the related historical writings everywhere. Comparatively speaking, because of the huge difference of capabilities for dealing with historical records and historiographies between the ancient and the modern histories we can no longer reasonably deal withtheir respective historical scholarships by the same discipline title “history” or “historiography” or “historical studies”. They should be taken now as belonging to different academic-disciplinary categories, including their intellectual and technological aspects. That’s why the present author oncesuggested that the more reasonable criterion for disciplinary-compartmentalization in historiography should be the scientific quality of knowledge and technology of historiography-making in different ages and areas regarding history-1 rather than the supposed history-2 based on the naturally fixed temporal periodization.

In light of this, relatively speaking, the same case can beeven more seriously said about the scholarly divergence between the western and the Chinese historiography-traditions, if the two large historical-scholarly traditions can be taken as two systems of historical disciplines. Nevertheless,this scholarly divergence has been almost disappeared with respect to contemporary historiographies about current histories of different countries today as well, for the modern globalization has already unified, on principle,the conditions for historical scholarship in different countries allover the world. In this sense, we may assert that contemporary historical studies about modern or contemporary histories in different countries have already been unified because of scientific unification of their respective scholarly levels and techniquesin the global era. Therefore it is clearly that contemporary historical studies about current historical processes should be taken as belonging to a new category that is much different from either western or eastern traditional historiographies. In this respect, it is contemporary historiography or historical works in the broadest sense that is first time in history closer to the attainment of the ideal of total history; it has become even more “universal or general” than any historical ideals could imagine in the past.[3]

In consequence, we attempt to say thatthe divergence between ancient and modern histories and that between western and oriental histories are caused and determined by different cultural-academic conditions related to the conditions of preserved documents and the intellectual-technical instruments involved. The analysis indicates that the real determinative factor regarding scopes, quality and types of historical scholarship is not the related historical process or reality but rather the actual historical conditions about preservations of documents and used scholarly-technical means. Accordingly, a more reasonable classification of current historical studies should be set by those scholarly-making conditions rather than by the represented historical realities as such, which can never be sufficiently available for the scholars.

Therefore, this new type of contemporary historical studies in effect shouldn’t be further named by the traditionally used term “historiography”that had been established and practiced all throughthe pre-scientific periods. Firstly, in a broad sense the term “history” can refer to all social and cultural phenomena in the world and therefore it must be connected to knowledge of all natural, social and human sciences as well as to all realms, levels and aspects ofthemundane world. That means the studies and representations of contemporary history are based on all related social, cultural, intellectual and technical means. Secondly, this new type of historical studies has already remarkably increased its representational quantity and quality so as to make it more closely accessible to the related historical reality or truth. Reversely, this development of contemporary historical studies helps once again epistemologically justify the notion of historical truth. For example, as part of historical truth the social-historical events in journalist, military, criminal, economic and many other fields in modern history can be mostly described almost “positively true” nowadays. Or, human capability of observation, description, recording and preservation of historical processes for the past century has already rapidly changed the scientific conditions of historical studies. Therefore, the so-called historical theories handled in academic professions today are more related to contemporary studies about earlier or old historical processes and historiographies, namely the inherited old historical texts, which are taken as the real object of historical scholarship. We must recognize that these two kinds of historical studies have already been separated,theone’s object is the inherited texts and the other is the social-historical reality. But ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary historical studies have still been taken as belonging to the same “discipline”—history or historiography— in spite of their mutual divergence concerning respective scholarly constitutions. This practical mixture in scholarshipbecomesone ofthe main causesof historical-epistemological confusion today. By the way, many contemporary post-modernist historians or history-philosophers still tend to take history-1, namely written works, as the only justifiable object for reasonable way ofthinking and investigation, neglecting the objectiveexistence of history-2, which is logicallyinvolved in historiography. This epistemological inclination is in part related to what we are discussing in this paper, in which the subjective feature of history-1 and objectivity of history-2 are recognized at the same time.


1.3  The objective of historical scholarship: for understanding historical reality or for understanding historical works? The distinction between object and objective regarding historical scholarship

It is mainly out of the above mentioned confusion about what is the proper object of carrying out historical studies that modern historians are used to maintainthatthe transmitted historical works themselves are the truly proper object to be handled and the aim of historical studies should be focused on the historical works as such rather than on the described historical processes. Nevertheless, in historical studies we cannot avoid further distinguishing between two concepts of object and objective; the distinction is logically linked to the involved historical epistemology. By emphasizing the distinction between reality and works we attempt to point out that in ancient times historians couldn’t have had strong enough conditions and means about historiography-making so they could only take the works as the object of their scholarly operative jobs;or, in a simplistic way, they regard the works as beingbasically in accordance withreferredreality. While regarding contemporary historians or historical epistemologists facing the double alternatives they still prefer to follow the traditional way for accepting this basic presupposition partly because of the existing academic-professional autonomy maintained by the institutionalized discipline, that can pragmatically regulate the intellectual priority of professionally authorized texts over social-historical reality: a cognitive priority of works to realities. That’s in part why a textual-central historiography prevails in academia and educational systems today. In this paper, nevertheless, we remind that our eventual aim in historical studies shouldstill lie inreaching the referredhistorical processes as closely as possible. In other words we still attempt to attain precise enough descriptions of the historical processes through historical works, and the scholarly orientationfor objective truth has epistemologically nothing to do with our capability ofattainingthe goal. We can of course professional-habitually fix the works and materials (history-1) as the only justifiable object of our historical studies by a commonagreement, being practically satisfied with the obtained resultsthat must behalf-scientificand half-literaryin nature. Thus, with respect to our scientific-directed historical studies, we can then make a useful conceptual distinction between the realities as the “objective”and the works representing realities as the “object”. As we just point out, the scientific development of contemporary historical studies can make the distinction more clearly intelligible and acceptable when today the historical processes can be amazingly precisely represented because of modern scientific-technological progressesand contemporary epistemological sophistication. This development of modern historical sciences can also change the traditional historical epistemology as well.

It is just due to the above-mentioned confusion concerning notions object and objective there has emerged the traditional idea that historical works are of historical-literarily mixed nature, which have been naturally taken as connected to history and literature alike, or, even more inclined to the literary in character. For the less scientifically operated ancient historical works historical studies or works indeed indicate a more literary feature or become literary works that usehistorical stories as the materialonly. (the comparison between the impressive records of warring fields of Hiloduode’s work and those about the Second-World War is impossible, for they belong to completely different scholarly categories despite their stories habitually included into the same catchword “war history”. That means, the “war history” is not a “scholarly relevant” common term forthesecomparative studies )Following modern development of scientific way of thinking the categorical divisions of writing practices have become more and more subtly elaborated already. As a result,the more scientific conception of history or historiography becomes really possible and even unavoidable. In this case the postmodernist rejection of the notion of historical truth seems to be practically due to that they take works as the main object of their praxis, intentionally giving up any objective references.


1.4  The contemporary turn of historical studies: Methodological-technical levels determine the quality of historiography; the traditional term “history” has been transformed into the entire realm of modern social-human sciences

In addition to the foregoing discussions we should state that our present-day academic compartmentalization about the humanities is still a mixture of the classical and modern literatures, and it is especially the case with historiography. We should be clear that all materials of the humanities are historical in nature; in this enlarged sense historical scholarship should cover all fields of social and human sciences. On principle, it is time now for us to more precisely redefine the discipline named with terms such as history, historiography or historical studies. At least we should divide historical scholarship into two categories: the modern-scientific type and the traditional-quasi-literary type. For the two types of disciplines are clearly determined by different sets of criteria for handling historical scholarship that involves three different aspects: historical sources, historiographic methods and styles of historical writings. In reference to the three aspects the traditional-classical type and modern-scientific type are remarkably different in their preconditions, scholarly instruments and scholarly manners. As we pointed out above, the conclusion becomes more distinctiveif we compare the historical works of the 20th century and those made before the 19th century. So these two historiographic works belong to different categories although they are related to the same kind of historical materials in a broad sense. The academic division is determined by different scholarly compositions involving scales of sources, scientific techniques and scholarly attitudes adopted. The conclusion about contemporary historiography also helps to solve a long-standing dispute on the nature of “history” as a discipline: more scientific or more literary; or from a more theoretical perspective, the derived question about “is there a historical truth?” We may state that so much vivid discussions about historical epistemology today arecaused by a basic conceptual ambiguity: “what it is meant by the term historical truth?” The present author firmly accepts an empirical-positive sense of it on the basis of records about historical works and documents having accomplished during the last century. Our argumentation for recognition of historical truth can be briefly interpreted by a comparison with criminal judgments in the sense that criminology is based on the precondition of existence of truth. Justification of the concept “truth” and the attainment of truth are of course differentin nature, that is related to the availability of sufficient intellectual and technical toolsinvolved. The fact of insufficient representativity of historical works about realities cannot be used to reject the epistemological justification of objective historical processes. In terms of this we should know there are two kinds of historical referents: the original emerging processes in actual space and time in history and the works that are somewhat related to the former. Accordingly historians would understand that the representational quality of historical works depends on our scientific-technical possibility that has been gradually advanced in history and the related representational quality must be logically advancedas well.

The above common-sense distinction between object and objective implies an epistemological significance. If contemporary historical works can support the justification of the notion historical truth that proves existence of “objective” realities, the same term “truth” used or implied in ancient historiography will be meaningful despite their less-scientific ways of mixing the object and the objective. The derived conclusion is in connectionwith both the extremely relativists and the traditional dogmatic conservatism. Regardingthe former, the concept truth can be justly protected, and regardingthe latter,  the historical truth shouldn’t be confused with the works simplistically taken as realities.


1.5 The central object of historiography rooted in human existence: causational analysis of interpersonal dominations in historical processes or studies of causational relationship of power in human history

The above preparative discussion presents on one hand some related epistemological explanations and on the other goes backto the classical conception of general or universal history. For history-1 about pre-modern historical scholarship the idealized or presupposed notion of referred or described comprehensiveness of historical descriptions is proved to be meaningless with a result that the general historical principles valid for all human histories can hardly be imagined now. No universal rules can be generalized on the basis of much less comprehensively described ranges of related historical processes. Among all possible cross-cultural comparative historical studies about respective old histories, however, one of the most important and intelligible topics shared by all civilizations, as suggested in this paper, is the kernel partof all historiographies:  political history; or more precisely ,the comparative typology of political-power structures with all associated ideological supplemental mechanisms. For all historical existences have been ones of socially organized collectives, the central foundation of which is the structures of political powers withtheirclosely related spiritual-ideological mechanisms. Among a number of parameters the very central one, in comparison with cultural, social and economic aspects, is the political;namely the interpersonal relationship of power or dominations. Political history remains the most significant part in modern historical studies; because it is directly related to the subject matter of interpersonal dominations with respect to both the static-structural relationship and the dynamic-causational relationship. The studies of relationships of interpersonal dominations involve the structural and dynamic descriptions and analyses alike.

 Based on the above discussion we attempt to state that the main scholarly aim of present-day studies of ancient or pre-modern histories lies not in comprehensively reaching the related historical truth but rather in merely limitedly attaining the historical truth about the more stabilized structures of power relationship in addition to the more sufficiently reachingofthe related intellectual and academic ideologies in connection with political power relationships. For this limited goal,scholars needfirst of alltorecognize the objective existence of historical truth in general.

 In terms of the above explanationsthe present paper attempts to focus on the political-academic-ideological mechanisms in Chinese history, which is uniquely characterized by its extremely lasting historical and intellectual continuity over 3000 years. It is interesting to note that the special political-ideological type of Chinese despotic-imperial system is characteristic of theofficially made and controlled, sophisticatedly organized and effectively operated mechanismsof orthodoxhistoriography. Regarding social political history of mankind we find any social-political powers (hard-part of power) function in combination with related intellectual-ideological systems of faith (soft-part of power). From inherited historical literature of all civilizations we may be able more positively to formulate a unified typology of the double-mechanisms of political-powers in human historysomeday. With respect to Chinese history the latter part is extremely richly constructed and characteristic of its unique type of a political religion named with the single character “ru”(儒).


2. The formation of Chinese ru(儒)-political origin and heritage

2.1  Historical writings and historical truth in Chinese historical thought

Traditional Chinese culture is characterized by its incomparably rich collections of historical works and documents in human history. According to this Chinese traditional notion of historical writings, the aim of historical works nominally still rests on finding and recording historical truth. No doubt, the conceptual existence of historical truth is by no means the ability to realize it in their historical practices. The fact still implies an important hermeneutic sense of it to the historian. Firstly, the limitation of capability for historical scholarship had been caused by the lack of sufficient collection of valid documents, scientific-directed historical knowledge, and historiography-organizing instruments. However, the traditionally accepted conception of historical truths, either in Chinese history or in western history, can be in accordance with theempirical-positiveidealin modern historical sciences. More particularly, the essential part of the political-historical truthremains to be structure and dynamics of interpersonal power relationship.

In addition, at least in Chinese history, strenuous struggles for actualizing and seizing political powers have been always the ceaselesslystrongest ambitions in historical life of mankind. And political phenomena in China can be depicted by multi-relationships of interpersonal dominations amongpeople and groups. One of the deepest political motives for the more aggressive-characterized human beings has been their innately strong impulse to gain superiority or domination over other fellows,and the tendencycan be easily traced back to the same instinct of beasts, although in civilized societies political life is inter-weaved with many other political, cultural and moral-religious dimensions. Therefore, problems of interpersonal domination based on power relationshipsor power-mechanism in political historyshould remainthepermanentsubject in historical studies, including traditional Chinese historiography. This human racial inclination is obviously linked to the notion of innate human nature universallydisclosed by the general fact that the deeply-rooted lust of ambitious people for seizing power or dominative superiority over others in human existence.Therefore, the most significant historical truth concerning this human nature is exactly exhibited in the permanent empirical realm: the interpersonal power-struggles in all historical processes. In terms of this physical-psychological background, Chinese political culture had evolved and developed, being embodied by a variety of intelligent and instrumental progresses.  In general, this political-cultural evolution is displayed at two aspects:the violence/schemingand the superstition/faith-stimulating. These two kinds of means are the political-tactic basics for attracting, gathering and convincing masses collected and used as the fighting tools for power-struggles and for maintaining the firm control of power-holders over subjugated people. The horrible coercion by force and the convincing persuasion by superstitious artifacts have always been dialectically employed to form the strategic foundations of controls in political histories. In this sense, the essence of history remains to be the political-centralism.

In traceable historical past, namely since Shang dynasty(1600-1100 B.C.), we can see from inherited documents the twoways of governing and dominations of rulers and their consistent applications in all social-political-military practices: the empirical wisdom linked to violence (the military in general)and the supernatural wisdom about faith (the rites for venerating gods). The consistent application ofthetwo joined arts had become the archetype of original political domination in ancient Chinese history. Thesetwo basic tactics, empirical violence and supernatural superstition, in political-military struggles had gradually elaborated, leading to shape two original guiding linesof primitive Chinese political wisdom. Let’s call themthe hard line or violent-tactic(simply, A line)and the soft line or superstitious-moral(simply, B line).In fact, sinceShang,the first documentary-confirmed dynasty,thetwofold political wisdomand its associated various technical mechanisms had established the archetype of power structures in the long Chinese despotic history.

The strongest instinct of human animal is rooted in the fear of different types, for example: those interpersonal, natural and life-marginal (death). Following the evolution of mankind, mass obedience is connected either with the beastly instinctive fear and the physical violence (A line) or with the primitive-spiritual fear, which can be said to be an imaginative violence (B line). Psychological existence of the two types of fear leads to the shaping of the mentality brimful of expectant fear resulting in a socialized habit of precautionary succumbing to both the realistic and supernatural power-holders in advance. The result is actually displayed by establishments of rules of mind and conducts set down by the latter. Nevertheless, the same system of rules to follow can be traced back to different psychological origins roughly marked by A line and B line. The twofold structure of the so-called primitive morality originates from two different empirical instincts: the animal and the human. Both are originally due to personal fears for being punished or destroyed, either by actual stronger human-animals or by imagined superstitious deities;or, inversely speaking, the two types of fear are also embodied in two types of wishes for being safeguarded by the stronger.From the angle of the rulers,the two origins of socially organized fears and obedience also become two basic leversin controlling techniques.

Although theseearliest twofold levers for maintaining power hierarchy have ever-increasingly developed in ancient Chinese historythey haveconstantly preservedthe original structure. The latter also became the inherited archetype of original Chinese despotic-totalitarian regimes realized by the first and second Chinese empires Qin and Han (221 B.C – 220 A.D.), which grew up originally from the original dynasty Zhou established about 800 years earlier.The joined playing of the two political levershad proved quite effective inmakinggoverned subject more easily to succumb to the kings, the power-holders. SinceShang was replaced by Zhou, whichlater attained higher cultural level in Chinese history, B line, soft-lever,was further elaborated that theearliermoral aspectshad beentransformed into a more complicated and more effective system consisting ofsocial norms,rules, rites and faiths in connection with different societal sections. The expanded,synthetic system of morality had been shapedinthemore closely organized hierarchical community. The new social-cultural system is traditionally called “zhou li” (周礼)(the ritual system and culture of Zhou(周)Dynasty) and meanwhile the earlier rude moral instruments were more and more added withempirical-humanistic elementsas well.In general, the earlier notion of Heaven closer to an anthropomorphic deity in Shang became more and more an abstract symbolof the cosmic power also named by Heaven in the early Zhou. In this further cultivated system of Zhou thehumanisticfaith in indoctrinating and educating affairs with respect to moral-psychological training had been intensified. Zhou(周)Dynasty is called a period oftheso-called Chinesefeudalism, during which the two original political wisdoms A and B had been enriched accordingly.

Therefore, Zhou(周)dynasty as a higher developed stage in Chinese history was especially characterized by the sophisticated development of itssoft-line:moral-faith-constructive endeavors (B), which was displayed in two aspects: the further richly socialized system of faiths and its corresponding elaboration of the technique concerning supernatural superstition. The first was called “li-system”(the hierarchical system of rites and related thoughts of feudalist morality), characterized by establishing a feudal-stratification and the related moral-educational procedures, which were intended to indoctrinatethe thought and conduct patterns concerningthe specially-stratified interpersonal morality intotoprulers, officials and common people in order to make political obedience more effectivelyand more consciouslyperformed. The second was calledthe entity of  “heaven-tao” (天道)imagined as the highest power-holder in the universe, which functioned as a political-typed religion based on the notion of power hierarchy reigning over boththe cosmos and earth.From a profounder perspective we may derive that the elaboration of the soft-lever had been promoted by a strengthened rational requisite in the hard-lever; namely the notion of heaven should avoid an empirical-positive inconsistence with the empirical-directed wisdoms employed by the hard-line (A). A primitive sophistication of the heaven faith has been helpful for weakening the cognitive conflict between the empirical evidence and the super-empirical superstition.[4]


2.2  The expanded meaning of A-lineandB-linein Chinese history

Broadly speaking, we may summarize that the double-lever-archetype of political-dominating mechanismin ancient times are twobasic modes of ancient political-strategic-tactic ways ofthinkingand behaviors. The twofold political-tacticarchetype had been rooted in Chinese history, lyingdownthe basis for its lasting stability and feasibility. We should keep in mindfrom now onthat this archetype of Chinese political culture always consists of these two parts or their different varieties, which had functioned in collaborative and consistent ways, although the proportional degrees and modes of the two parts and their interactions had been flexibly changeable in different historical contexts.

Regarding the interaction between the meaning-changeable history of some traditional linguistic-characters and our present selective usage of them there exist several complicated reasons to be further explained although,unfortunately,we have no space for the job at the moment here. We can only remind readers of the difference existing between the habitual senses of used characters and our specially focused sense-aspects of the same characters. In any case, the meanings of all the traditional characters are widely related to the chosen contexts; while habitually they have been misunderstood as constantly unchanged.The reason why this linguistic problem is relevant here because the mixed involvements of ancient and modern senses of the same characters used in modern contexts are related to semantic disorders in our mutual understanding and discussions.

By our “semiotic usage of traditional characters” we choose using some terms, which had been in use in fact much later in history, to represent the phenomena, which had appeared much earlier, in order to convey multi-significant historically existing elements. So, we prefer to use“A” to markthe primitive mode of the traditional name “fa-jia”(法家)used much later (misleadingly translated to “the legalist school”) and to use“B” to markthe primitive mode of the traditionalname “ru-jia”(儒家)also used much later (the character “ru” (儒)with no a definite meaning should be explained later). In essence, with respect to the practical realms, A as the hard line refers to the violent-military part and B as the soft line to the cultural-administrative part; the both function in the same political-dominating system, which could be traced back to the remote past of tribe societies.  It should be emphasized that the contrast between A and B lies in the level of methods and policies rather than in that of political-morality, as wrongly interpreted by most ancient and modern scholars. As a matter of fact, the terms “fajia” (法家)and “rujia” (儒家)had been officially and widely in use only since Han. Accordingly, our present usage involved is different from the both related traditional and modern regular ways. According to the Chinese traditional interpretation, fajia(法家)and rujia (儒家)represent the two oppositional political-moral ways of thinking, respectively emphasizing the anti-moral-directed violence and the moral-directed benevolence, however, according to our analysis the difference of the two is only pragmatic-tactic and practical-expedient in nature. The saying of the oppositional political-morality of the two partswas firstly caused bythe ideological fabrication of Chinese despotic powersin Han. Even the traditional academic terms fajia(法家), rujia(儒家), and many others, are highly ambiguous in meaning, although they can maintain a pragmatically self-consistent usage in their chose contexts.

More precisely, according to our interpretation,marks A and B are the primitive modes of fajia(法家)and rujia(儒家); or, the latter two are the advanced modes of original modesA and B. The appearance of names of social-political thinking ways occurred in much later times when the primitive scholarly activities were originally established. The fajia(法家), or literally “legalist school” (in fact, that means to maintain a severe and strictly controlled policies regarding both internal dominations and external militaries) was the developed mode of the earlier basic line A, turning to be a really full-fledged learning and policy mainly displayed in three hard-social realms in connection to strategy-tactics: administrative, military, legal. Precisely, this line contains two chief features: violence and plot-tricks. B-line, ortheprimitive type of ru-jia(儒家)

, as pointed out above, consists of two aspects: the social-cultural and the supernatural-mythological parts. fajia(法家)as a political theory adopted abare“power philosophy”, which had been either internationally directed to military-aggressive conquests through well-organized aggressive activities, cunning tactics, secret schemesor domestically directed to severe punishments and praises with respect to subjects. Based on the original violent tradition, fajia(法家)had more typically and successfully embodied the essence of ancient Chinese politics, although this bare violent part had been intentionally hidden by all power-holders with a purpose to exaggerate the beneficent face of the ruling classes. With this political philosophy and aggressive techniques,Qin defeated all other states, successfully establishing the first Chinese empire.[5]


2.3  The historical emergence of a heterogeneous intellectual force: Confucian ethics

Before the establishment of the totalitarianized Chinese imperial system there had already shaped a basic national-ideological way of thinking in Chinese mentality, indicating an ever-lasting threefold interaction between three intellectual forces, among which, besides the remotely traceable original A and B, there appeared a completely new type of thought called “the ethical”, or named in its Chinese term “ren”(仁)(literally: man, humanity and benevolence), which we mark with “C” in this paper. Or, quite simply speaking, these basic three factors in intellectual interactions are: A (violence), B (morality) and C (ethics). C, traditionally named with Confucian thought although the true authors and compilers of the related text the Analects were the legendary disciples and followers only, regarding which one thing is worth being mentioned here: despite a variety of overlapped elements with a lot of other historical and mental customs in ancient China this ethical thought is characterized by the innately self-consistent holism of its ethical-pragmatic logic. In fact, there has been a permanent contrast between the unchanged spiritual logic of the ethical autonomy and the changeable phenomena of the political-social-cultural facts in Chinese history.

As regardsthe central traditional Chinese political-ethical-pragmatic frame of thought, we depict it with this model of three lines in the paper. Both A and B have a double-identity indicated by social-political and intellectual-moral aspects; the so-called “thought” here is overlapped with its related social realities, which had been profoundly and multiply rooted in the special original Chinese history. A and B, with their associated social realities, had formed in and had been the results of the naturally shaped social-cultural-historical backgrounds, ranging from its earlier theocracy of Shang to its later more rationalized humanist feudalism of Zhou(周). All the historical systems and social patterns had been the natural consequences of Chinese historical developments, the detailed processes and origins of which remain little known till now. In this sense, A and B, or their mature types fajia(法家)and rujia(儒家), are collective expressions ofthe relatedintelligence and behaviors. Regarding the primitive modes of political thoughts, despite the difference between the pragmatic styles, both A and B had mainly served the safeguarding of interests of political power-holders. The developed aspects of morality within B line was directly linked to and determined by both heaven and human power-holders. The essence of this historical system of faithful mentality, after all, has been ultimately directed to the effective guarantee of absolute obedience of the inferiors to the superiors, or to different grades of the power-holders.

It was under this historical condition suddenly occurred an individual-central type of ethical thought represented by a legendary historical figure Confucius and his vagrant academy (ca.500 B.C), presenting not only different but also essentially oppositional or challenging line of thinking in reference to the moral situations of the power of the ruling systems and its suppressive ideology in Zhou dynasty. As an ethical system it must have also originatedand evolvedin the earlier historical and intellectual traditionsalong B-line (simply, the individual-ethical originates from the collective morality). Since then Chinese political-intellectual history has indicated a permanent interaction between A, B and C. Although this Confucian thought anditshistorical origins must share the same social-political-institutional heritage, as the only available historical material and conditions, with A and B, it asserts a quite independent axiological system different from the official-ruling ones. Paradoxically enough, however, eventually this ethical challenger to the fajia(法家)power-philosophy had been delicately used to serve or support its opposite: the ruling class. In brief, we may state that Confucian ethics has been a motivational-ethically challenging spirit in confrontation with the Chinese power-holders. As a matter of fact, the essence of Confucian ethics is embodied in the challenging dialogue between official power and private consciousness with respect to political-ethical criteria and orientations. The main reason lies in that Confucian thought is an ethical system mainly realized or functioning in the motivational or attitudinal domain without really entering thepolitical-applicable realms in its ethical pragmatic autonomy. One direct reason of the historical emergence of thisethical-immanentistinclination can be apparently in part explained by the general lack of a higher scientific-rational way of mentality in ancient Chinese civilization. Nevertheless, the phenomenon implies a much profounder significance in general. Differently from its western counterparts, all ancient Chinese thinkers had never thought clearly of the possibility of seeking some more desirable social-political means or organizations to replace the naturally inherited, customarily accepted ones. On the other hand, this shortcoming in national mentality presents two different kinds of historical advantages instead. For the traditional Chinese despotic politics,it providesa super-stable social-political system, maintaining a uniquely lengthy continuity of Chinese civilization. And for Confucian ethics,it helps maintain an ethical-motivational autonomy actually tested in long history, maintaining in consciousness an independent-persisting mentalorientation towards ethical justices among human beings, rather than passively serving power-holders, although the ethics doesn’t know clearly what the ethical truth should be in reality, let alone how to make it realized. What exists here genuine-relevantly is an intentional attitude or a fixed ethical inclination rooted in mind, which could indeed play its activeindependent role in purecultural levels relatively separatefrom social-political realms.

Positively speaking, Confucian ethics indeed helps the traditional Chinese despotic regimes, especially when the latter had developed into its more totalitarinized mode, increasinga little bit their level of political-morality on one handwith its virtue-training teaching; but on the other, negatively speaking, it had been extensively and deeply used by the ruling classes to justify and strengthen the extremely unfair despotic-totalitarian domination over thought and actions of literati. At the cultural-intellectual level, the existence of Confucian thought embodied in the text of the Analects has led to a permanent confrontation or tension between the humanist ethics deeply rooted in benevolent part of good human nature andharshpower-violence performed by the aggressive instincts in evil human nature. [6]On the other hand, by the way, the axiological confrontation or tension has become a historically permanent spiritual source for cultural-intellectual creations and productions of various kinds in long Chinese history characteristic of its highly developed literature and arts. A great number of cultural and intellectual products and expressions have been mainly due to the inspiration and stimulation of Confucian ethical spirit.While at the political-practical levels Confucian ethics has been even also ideologically misused by Chinese political powers to serve the ruling class itself.

The identity and content of C can be much more simply and purely defined than those of A and B. C is basically a mere system of thought activized in mind of individuals; and A and B are synthetically social-cultural existences appearing in collective powers. However, C indeed plays an independent and spiritually powerful impact in Chinese cultural and intellectual history. In any case, these three heterogeneous historical factors or realms have shaped both a coexistent and mutual-conflicting mechanisms of intellectual interactions in Chinese history. Among which A and C have been the constant opponents at the intellectual-ethical level; and B, when it had further developed or grown to its more synthetic mode “rujiao” (儒教)

 (religion or system of ru(儒)-politics) since Han, also becomes the origin of a catch-all ideological title representative of the ru(儒)-imperial system.


3. The establishment of ru(儒)-imperial system and its academic-historical ideology

3.1 General backgrounds

Historically speaking,Confucian thought has presented itself by two modes of existence: as the intellectual-independent autonomy and as the tool to be used by the ruling class. As an implicitly self-coherent ethical system it had played a cultural, intellectual, educational and virtual-training role with respect to literati in general and at the level of social usages, since Han; on the other hand, it had been also used by power-holders as an educational instrument to serve the ruling class and literati in general about moral indoctrination. Han defeated Qin Empire but adopted the entire institutional heritages created by Qin, the first nation-wide conquer. It was Han that first time in history successfully combined different historical heritages into an unprecedentedly workable totality, including aspects such as the military-violence, severe-discipline, deceitful tactics, centralized despotic administration, superstitious worships for the heaven, family-typed mundane-religion for venerating nation-historical king-lineage,as well as Confucian virtualtraining technique together, bringing about the establishment of Chinese ru(儒)-imperial systembased on Qin’s militarized dictatorship.  Among different ru(儒)-systematic components the two uniquely great historical-cultural contributions are those leading to the official formation of Chinese academic-institutional system, namely the five-class-scholarship (whose texts amounts to the “Bible” of a ru(儒)-political-religion), and the sacralization of the historical figure Confucius, making him as a spiritual hierarch of the ru(儒)-political-religion.

Confucian political ethics, despite its lack of applicable ways, indicated a definitely clear idea about the subjective-ethical goal for individuals and moral orientation of political practices for regimes; by reading the text, it had presented an obvious objection to the contemporary Zhou political realities, which is hermeneutically referred to all Chinese despotic regimes over 2000 years. And when the late Zhou entered its Warring-State period and all Zhou feudal states adopted fajia(法家)-lined politics fighting each other, the ethical-conceptual conflict between the Confucian ethics, represented by Confucius’ follower Mencius, and the prevailing political aggressive-tended states became sharply serious. Since then, even long before the establishment of Qin Empire, a typical intellectual/political confrontation between Confucian political ethics and any violent aggressions followingfajia(法家)’s aggressive philosophy of power has been dramatically formed. The strongest fajia(法家)-lined state Qin, which had more successfully adopted a fajia(法家)philosophy, or the aggressive policy purely based on A line, defeated all other states, annexing all of them to build up the first but short-lived Chinese totalitarian empire. Han, also based on Qin’s fajia(法家)line, became the final victor who established thepersistent ru(儒)-imperial system. The historical fact proves clearly that it has been the militarist fajia(法家), rather than Confucian ethical politics, that has become the genuine historical momentum in China. This historical consequence had confirmed the victory of A/B line and the failure of C linein this respect; but, ironically enough, eventually the part of C and the author of C had been used by A and B to serve them. The militarist Qin had proved to be a great victor in military conquering but not a successful imperial controller.So it was Qin’s successor Han that had become a lasting despotic dynasty. Han emperors found time to have readjusted Qin’s line mainly based on A by a clever combinative application of A and B together; the Chinese despotic empire therefore hadsuccessfullyestablished its permanent archetype for internal and external politics. That means, B line, under Han, had been more effectively created, including its foregoing two great creations.

The synthetic-formed superstitious mechanism developed from B line in ancient China had undergone a characteristic elaboration displayed in two aspects. On one hand, the cosmic-metaphysical heaven worship had been gradually sophisticated, becoming mixed with the more abstract Taoism. The ultimately shaped Chinese plain metaphysical concept named “tian-dao” (道) (heaven-tao) is composed by the more imaginary part “heaven” and the less imaginary part “tao” in order to intensify its theoretical-persuasive strength. On the other, the ancient mythological deities had been gradually but systematically transformed into historical figures; namely the worshiped deities in earlier oral legends had been successfully anthropomorphized. This historiographic fabrication had been resultant in making legendary supernatural deities become empirically accessible old kings. This double intellectual-ideological policy manipulated by the imperial regime had made a clever use of the two sets of different sacred sources of the metaphysical and empirical nature. The latter accorded with the developed rational knowledge of nation in the times, namely making old superstitious faith the one that is empirical-rationally more accessible. According to this national-mental character, the images of earthy-historical stories sound more convincing than the purely supernatural-imaginative fictions. A political-ideological continuity between the legendary historical forefathers as earthy power-holders and the current emperors as real political power-holders had been strengthened without losing its original profitable link between heaven and earth. A supernatural-superstitious power-ideology and a natural-mundane power-ideology had been satisfactorily finished since then.

 It is more important to repeat that, since Han, B-line (the soft-line, rujia(儒家))had been in fact further enriched and becomethe synthetic-mechanical compound, that we name as theru(儒)-imperial system where A line and B line had been so much delicately organized into a functional entirety. In other words, in the ru(儒)-system, fajia(法家)and rujia(儒家)had been made an organic whole; or in traditional term, “outside rujia(儒家)and inside fajia (法家)”. Or, rujia(儒家)could have been further substantialized into rujiao(儒教)(literally, religion and system of ru(儒)), which consists of both the external-socially and internal-culturally institutionalized arrangements. The latter includesa new typed political ideological system, consisting of the classical type of historiography, namely the classical texts about words and deeds of the legendary ancient Chinese kings, althoughthose texts are half fragmentary documents and half imaginative fictions.  In the system,Confucius, the author of the Analects,had been purposely fabricated as afounder of that historiography-ideological system. Because of this original intentional confusion, which concretely fabricated the author of the Analects as the editor and teacher of the ru(儒)-imperial-religious classics, contemporary studies of Chinese history still suffer from this nominal blendingwith a result ofbringing about a lot of basic misunderstanding at home and abroad. This fabrication produces at least two serious mistakes in connection with modern historical studies. First of all, it hides and covers up the fundamental opposition between Confucian humanist ethics and the Qin-Han’s imperial power philosophy. Secondly, it misleadingly makes A and B lines in the unified system of ru(儒)-imperial regimes apparently separate enough, interpreting thisseparation emerging at the policy-operational level as that existing at the level of political-moral directions. In essence, the key essence of Han ru(儒)

-political ideology lies in camouflaging the fajia(法家)’s violently organized hard-line foundation of theru(儒)- regimes through exaggerating the political-moral character of the rujia(儒家)’s academic ideology manipulated by the same regimes. In essence, Han inherited all political-militarysystems left by Qin but complemented it with a more effective and culturally elaborated academic ideological system.

In terms of our simplified formulation, it was during Han that three parts of A, B, C (or part of C) had composed a more synthetically inter-coordinate system called  “ru” (or rujia(儒家)) system. From the first empire Qin to the last empire Ching the traditional Chinese political systems had remained basically same,always with the hard-line A as the very institutional foundation. What differed from each other with respect to the relationship between fajia(法家)and rujia (儒家)had emerged mainly in the policy-practical level. Differently from the traditional saying that fajia(法家)and rujia(儒家)are two oppositional lines of political philosophy,these two had been complementary to each other in jointly maintaining ru(儒)-imperial regimes. Or, essentially speaking, the ru(儒)-imperial system consists of rujia(儒家)as a soft-lined moral-ideological profile and fajia(法家)as a hard-lined political-coercive substance.

On the other hand, because of the historically shaped special connection between the despotic political ideology and Confucian thought, the name Confucius had been even ultimately made the leader of the ideological system headed by his ethical opposite! Since then, over 2000 years, the two different intellectual and practical ways of thought had been confused together in scholarly thinking. The consequence hasevenbecome more serious since the earlier western missionaries rashly translated and interpreted the imperial ideology to the term “ Confucian classics” or interpreted the ru(儒)

-imperial-ideology really as invented by a so-called  historical figureConfucius. In fact the proper name of that ideological system and thought had been indeed marked by the character “ru”(儒)



3.2  The derivative talk about character-pattern semantics and its ideological-pragmatic effects

Regarding the problems about ancient Chinese words and character-semantics we have to present a derivative discussion at first. The original semantic confusions of the titles or theoretical terms have been widely caused by ancient ru(儒)-ideology and modern Chinese-western translations. In this regard let’s mention just a few one-character-words and two-character-words such as tian (heaven), dao (道)(tao), fa (law, rule), fajia(法家)(school of law), ru (儒)(no definite meaning), rujia(儒家)(schools of ru), ren(仁)(human being, benevolence, or good); and also ruxue(儒学)(learning about ru-academic ideology), renxue(仁学)(learning about ren(仁)-ethics), and a more general and more synthetic term rujiao (儒教)(political religion, or synthetic-constitutive social-political system named withru(儒)).


The reason of etre of the nounal confusions lies in the semantic structure of Chinese character-central language itself, in which character-patterns as the basic units of words and phrases keep their constant verbal shapes but each contains a lot of possible different dictionary-semes. So the concrete meaning of a character as a word can only be fixed by contexts. A character pattern looks like a fixed little box full of semic units, of which total number and use-frequency are changeable in history. Semantically speaking, there exists an apparent contradiction between the unchanged visual form of a character and the changeable structure of signified content. In general, in its one-character-word language in history, Chinese is richly contextual-determined. If one seme implied in a character is separated from the entire semic group of that characterand isused to represent the relevant meaning of that character, the semantic confusion or misinterpretation would so easily happen. That means, in this case one constituent seme of a character is first used to represent the meaning of the one-character-word, excluding the involvement of someother constituent semes, which in factcouldselectively appear in other possible contexts. Modern Chinese is firstly characterized by its systematic transformation from the one-character-word language to the two-character-word language with a result of increased certainty of signification of abstract and general words. In ancient China this tendency had already emerged to a limitedextent. While an involved negative effect lies in creating another kind of semantic confusion of Chinese words: the polyphonic reading of a word by means of arbitrarily selecting semic combination from the entire cumulated semic reservoir; namely an early effective but late ineffective seme of a word can be re-used for producing some artificially misleading meaning implicative of ideological overtone caused bythe same character-pattern.

This signifying tendency still widely functions when the ancient two-character words began to be employed, because this character-phrase would appeal to a de-contextual separation in creating that semantically one-sided way of reading the chosen characters. The most typical example is given by the more abstract ones such as “dao”(道)(tao) and “tian”(天)(heavens), which can be shared by different ways of thought, with its basic semic origin: “way, rule, law, regularity”. The mythically charming usage implied in it is also indicated by secondary or third connotative semes in contexts illogically used. It could be the latter part that signifies the truer or deeper signified; to say, those about supernatural, metaphysical, true-nihilist, false-nihilist, political-extremist and ethical-basic ideas, etc.

Let’s see another example in our present usage of the key character “ru”, which has been the very origin of conceptual confusions, which as such nevertheless has played a very significant and ideological-functional role. We may simplify its expressions this way: at present, in our reading, it temporarily refers to four different items. First, a proper noun about a job of scribing and documents-keeping, or even in general refers to the primitive literary-typed jobs in remote past, which is mainly related to the soft-line B; second, an expanded title for the primitive type of literati in general or special groups of people who are able to handleprimitive “cultural-styled” jobs such as reading, inscribing, recording, document-preserving,even hermit-curing anddeifying in late Zhou times when cultural activities had been further advanced; third, the title for representing the official-learning with related internal and external institutions of the imperial academic-ideological system since Han; finally fourth, as the general title to represent the entire multi-systems of the despotic social-political regimes and society. Ru(儒)as a single character with its uniquely separate sense enriched by its unknown etymological trace-line can be combined with other single characters to form the semantically more definite words to express the above different meanings with various flexibly changeable overtones.In terms of above descriptions we are impressed that this character ru(儒)means nothing in disconnection of contexts!

Since traditional Chinese history has been discussed bydint ofmodern scientific-theoretical approach the first problem has lied in how to properly handling traditional terms in a theoretical-intelligible way. It is a semiotic problem concerning noun-semantic interaction between ancient and modern scholarly usages; namely, how to use the old characters full of multiplesenses and referents to express definite meanings in our present discourses. Unfortunately, most regular scholars specialized in modern studies of Chinese histories prefer to employ the old terms in their traditional-customarysenses, namely making the historical objects and modern methods share the same character-semantic structures. A lot of scholarly prejudices and misunderstandings in fields of western Sinology, Chinese “State Learning” and comparative studies have firstly suffered from the lack of this necessary semiotic treatment of relationship between historical names and the related ideas. In general, the traditional Chinese academic discourses are full of ambiguities and polysemes. Without paying an attention to the semantic fact,the way of thinking of a modern scholar will unavoidably remain at the same intelligible level with his ancestors. But, even worse, in ancient times scholars had used character-words in a specially organized pragmatic way, indeed conveying meaningful ideas in that traditional contexts, while in modern time scholars have already usedthe same character-words in a completely changed context!

In the Han ru(儒)-imperial system, with all constituent parts organized on the grounds of a special combination of A-1ine and B-line, A-line was highly developed to the reorganized institutional mechanism modeled on Qin Empire and B-line was more richly developed to a synthetic compound including the establishment of the sacred ru(儒)-classics(儒经). Then ru(儒)

had been made asa sacralized term representing the fundamental value and faith of the imperial lineage of power-holders, who had been selected and supported by the heaven almighty. The emphasis on a certain side of B, the literary profile, had been surely helpful to strengthen the efficiency of the faith of people in the imperial power-holders through magnifying the soft-morality-inclination and covering-up itshard-violence-kernel.

Sinceru(儒)had been used to describe the post-Qin despotic polity it’s true meaning had been expressed by a special combination between A-lever of physical violence, which had been embodied in well-organized institutionalization and approved and protected by Heaven, and B-lever of spiritual belief embodied in sacralized historical texts recording words and deeds of former kings also authorized by Heaven. Heaven,as the top powerful sources,functionsin two sides of A and B respectively. For A, it symbolizes horrible terror and for B, it symbolizes the love and guarding of the ruling class for the ruled people. Compared with all former despotic regimes the ru(儒)

-imperial system is especially characterized by its academic-ideological-textual system. The latter will therefore become the spiritually more powerful mechanism to maintain the centripetal magnetic powerregarding whole population and groups. The dialectic interaction between A and B actualized in their further advanced levels had shaped the ever-lasting social-cultural type in Chinese history. ruas the dialectically combined compound of various elementsis therefore implicative of a set of binary contrasts to be marked this way: A/B, hard/soft, coercive threat/moral love, military-disciplined/civil-administrative, atrocity/ academia, as well as empirical-rational/superstitious-religious. Besides, there should have been a totalizing art of systematically operating with the binary elements in the ru(儒)-system. This strategically manipulating technique named with “ru(儒)-art” can be taken as the essence of ru-political-ideological system, which has successfully worked over 2000 years until today. Technically speaking, the semiotic secret of the spiritual strength of the characterru(儒)rests on its semantic empty as well as its flexible character-combinability.  For the etymological trace of ru(儒)in remote ancient times has been not clearly traceable, and thislinguistic feature is just a condition for its being ideologically used in any flexible way.

Let’s see now another key character fa and the phrases containing the character, especially the most important one fajia(法家). If character “fa” (法)(law, rule), like “dao”(道)(tao), can be semantically connected to different realms and ranges, the created two-character “fa-jia”(法家)(literally, school of the legalism; or more literally: the advocate of the principle of “fa”(法)) can explicitly or implicitly express or hint different senses. Let’s try to briefly enumerate them in the following:

(in ancient and modern usages) its historically actual referent: the special policy line, which was especially adopted by state Qin in the Warring-State Period, characterized by its Chinese types of Spartanism/Machiavelianism;

(in ancient and modern usages) the theoretical and practical elaboration of that primitive policy and tactics developed later around the Empire Qin, enriched also by ametaphysical overtone, which is associated later with philosophical Taoism;a school named by fa was formed then;(in our usage) the social-political-military operating tendency of fajia(法家)can be traced back to the original A line;(in ancient but also in modern usages) the term fajia(法家)has selectively been used to indicate the moral-evil and barbarian-violent policies and actions carried out by Empire Qin; since then this understanding of the term had beenfurtherpopularized;(in ancient and modern usages) the political system and military tactics of Empire Qin had been completely inherited by its defeater Empire Han and all subsequent ru(儒)-empires; or it had been Empire Qin and its special strategy-tactics based on fajia(法家)had prepared the solid foundation for Chinese ru(儒)-imperial institutional history; while on the other hand, all ru(儒)-empires, based on the hard-model of Qin Empire, had created an intellectual context, where the current fajia(法家)-involvements in ru(儒)empires had been excluded from official discourse. Substantially fajia(法家)system and policy originated in Qin had been absorbed, but also enriched or complemented, by the developed B line;

(in ancient and modern times alike) the term fajia(法家)had been officially given a specific moral-toned meaning: the political evilness or cruelty. This paradoxical semantic-tactics implies the following meanings: to hide the fact that essence of fajia(法家)shared by Qin and all other subsequent ru(儒)empires but apparently the political-ideological tactic has covered up the similar political and military evilness implied inmany subsequent ru(儒)-regimes; to exclude the spread of the knowledge and skills of political-military operations of fajia(法家)in theentireland in order to monopoly the knowledge and technique about political-military fightingin precaution of their spread among people; to emphasize the moral-goodness of currentru(儒)-regimes through collectively assigning the evil-name to a legendary image of the past defeated national common-enemy to highlightthe permanent moral-positive profile of ru(儒)-imperialism(in modern usage) the original term “fa”(法)(law) with its most original sense “rules” can be used to describe all types of social organizationsand conducts. Because of the same referential ambiguity the literally translated modern equivalent “law” will apparently play asemantic-confusing role although the single concept “rule” or “law” has no any serious scholarly link with modern political sciences, having nothing to do with democratic legalism either. 

(in modern usage) byemploying fajia(法家)inits traditional confusing usage in modern social-cultural contexts, the ideological-biased way of manipulating the word can be various, namely either positively or negatively depending the implicit motivesof the word users. To say, negatively, it can be used as its traditional proper noun used in contrast with “rujia”(儒家)that is used in its traditional sense of “benevolent politics”, namely in this case it is just a pronoun of “political evils”; while positively, namely when fajia’(法家)s opposite “rujia”(儒家)is used in its modern critical meaning of “reactionary dictatorial feudalism”, fajia(法家)means the good policy of maintaining a “legalism” used in modern sense. In this case, the character fa in the word is intentionally linked with the same character used in modern Chinese phrase “politics by legalism rather than by one-person dictatorship”. In arguing and debating, different senses can be adopted by their arbitrarily using ways of the same character or word, leading any debates just meaningless. And funny it is that the two mutual contrasting senses can be delicately used at the same time, and then one sense is used in a denoting way and the other in a connoting way. For example, for modern fajia(法家)advocates, the historical-true context of ru(儒)-imperial system as the social context of actual performance of fajia policy could be hinted that the pro-fajia(法家)argument also impliesthe positive elements of rujia(儒家). Reversely, for modern rujia(儒家)advocates, they can also implicitly hint that ru(儒)-politics historically had its fajia(法家)background. All of those modern usages of some traditional terms could be just manipulated by ideological-players withcertain profitable aim in theircurrent completely changed contexts.

Since Han, the precise senses of fajia(法家)and rujia(儒家)have been enriched and readjusted respectively but still kept each other’s original semes, which have been moral-ideologically used in the new semantic compound as the “ru(儒)-imperial system”. The character “ru”(儒)had been preferably selected as the general term to represent the newly created political-military-ideological compound just because of itsambiguouscultural-literary-moral implication. Although in this compoundru(儒)is turned to be specially institutionalized by fajia(法家)and fajia(法家)is elaborated to politically include all hard realms such as administrative, legal and military aspects. And on the other hand, in Chinese metaphoric expressions, ru(儒)also plays a role likeyang (male, sun, foreground) and fa plays a role likeyin (female, moon, underground). From now on the term ru(儒)implies both a traditional-narrow sense and a new extended sense silently added by the institutional part of fajia(法家). In the traditional terms a popular phrase has been grouped to express this double-faced situation: “yang-ru, yin-fa”; or, openly, ru(儒), and secretly, fa; or, apparently, literary-profiled ru(儒)and substantially, violently-suppressive fa. The double-faced ideological wisdom has become a traditionally dominant mentality in ru(儒)-political wisdom.[7]


3.3  The ru(儒)-imperial academic ideology and the ren(仁)-Confucian ethical thought

Among numbers of important one-character words, which contain broad or general meanings, the most typical cases with respect to social-political fields are displayed by the one-character words “ru” (儒)and “ren”. ru(儒)is the most general catchword of ru(儒)-imperial system. In this sense, ru(儒), without definite meaning outside contexts, amounts to an sense-empty title and is more easily used in any associative occasions. On contrary, ren is a definite concept and a general title alike with respect to Confucian ethics. Despite common feature of one-character-word shared by ru and ren, the both play different-directed signifying roles; the former helps produce ideological blending role based onru(儒)-imperial ideology and the latter helps create a special reading technique to convey different aspects of ethical praxis. Semiotically speaking, ru(儒)is uniquely characterized by its most ambiguously semic implication. With many etymologically traced semic roots its historically appeared meaning has remained quite empty or polysemic. When Confucius had been fabricated to be the leading figure of the ru(儒)-academic-ideological system the ethical aspects of his humanistic thought could become a strong empirical-psychological supports for ru(儒)-academic-ideological-moral doctrine as well. Confucian ethical elements and the ru(儒)-academic-ideological elements had been pragmatic-intentionally blended, neglecting the basic ethical-epistemological opposition between the two; for ru(儒)-morality is basically a philosophy of power-holders based on fajia(法家)and ren is essentially a political-ethical defiance against any unjust dominations. Once again, let’s repeat this statement: the basic ethical confrontation has existed always between the power philosophy of fajia(法家)and the political-ethical principles of ren(仁)-learning. In an intellectual perspective the basic confrontation can be described between the existing collective power and the individual ethical-challenger in history of Chinese civilization.

So the Han ruling class not only used Confucian ethics as a practical method for virtual-training in order to strengthen subject’s faithful loyalty to Han rulers but also used the image of the author of the Analects as an officially authorized founder of the newly formed scholarly-religious system. The total intellectual ideological system of Han was now called ru(儒)-imperial academic system (ru-xue儒学) or ru(儒)-political religion (ru-jiao儒教). In broad sense, including both hard part A (political system and policies) and the soft part B (the scholarly part and moral-educational part), added with a distorted C, this system refers to the entire content of Han-despotic mechanisms, looking like a synthetic body consisting of different elements such as the political-governing, religious-superstitious, official-academic and moral-faithful. In narrow sense the term “ruxue”(儒学)

 refers especially to the newly established academic system consisting of the classics, scholarship of the classics and related procedures for education-promotion of Han officials. By the way, originally since Han, the ru(儒)-academics in fact, far from being scholars in modern sense, functioned as quasi-officials. Even during entire Chinese history, all scholars and intellectuals had been the candidates for officialdom.

In addition to being used by ru(儒)-imperial politics, however, Confucian thought has indeed become the central driving force for a relatively independent impetus for spiritual and artistic endeavors in Chinese history. Confucian ethical spirit can be generally represented also by a single-character “ren”(仁)as its all-inclusive catchword, and as its main concept, which literarily means benevolence or kindness, ren (仁)is represented by its pictographic form, which pictures “two persons standing face to face”, or just signifies “interpersonal relationship ”. As a disciplinary catchword ren (仁)implies symbolically a mundane ethical humanism, hinting that the basic ethical theme can only appear in the relationship between persons and persons rather than that between man and deity. Its ethical character also accords to the general secular tendency of Chinese national character. In a structural-semiotic reading, the character ren(仁)can have a lot of different senses in different contexts of the Analects. Unfortunately the complicated problem cannot be detailed further here.

In summary, according to the redefinition made by this author a semantic distinction should be made between “ru(儒)-learning”, as part of ru(儒)-imperial-ideology, and “ren(仁)-learning” as Confucian thought. In Chinese history the former refers to a multi-compound containing the special type of social-political system, the ru(儒)-guided policy-operations, the academic-ideological system and the supernatural-substitutive religion. By contrast, the latter refers to a purely ethical thought mainly represented by a single text “the Analects”.

Thus, in the retrospectively constructive process about the power-ideological backgrounds of the ru(儒)-compound,we may say that three main sections are included: the direct heaven-superstition, the empirical evidence of historical documents of the lineage of imperial power-holders authorized and preordained by Heaven, and the official appointment of legendary Confucius as the hierarch of ru(儒)-academic ideology as a mundane-theist system. Among these three parts, the academic-historical ideology embodied in the 5-part system of sacred texts is especially characteristic of ru(儒)-imperial political philosophy. The number 5 accords with the mythical number 5 contained in a popular cosmological metaphysics “Five-Elements” indicating the objective laws (heaven-tao) of the universe. Besides, the author or thinker of historically real ethical text the Analects has been imposed with this intellectual-leading role representativeof the ru(儒)-imperial ideological system.

One of the reasons why it was Confucius who had been elected to play such a historical role rests on the genuine intellectual truth that his “first Chinese book” in history has been psychological-strongly moving and ethical-instructive with respect to the empirical-rational mind of the ancient literati. Therefore the special medley of the historically true humanist-ethical thought concerning empirical virtues and the historically false heaven-political morality has played an amazingly effective coordinating role in stabilizingand strengtheningru(儒)-imperial system. Nevertheless,on the other hand,this true ethical-affective spiritual power has been always institutionally restricted within the track of the ru(儒)-political-religious fundamentalism in Chinese history.


4. The double-constitutive system of ru(儒)-historiography: the Five Classics and the Standard History[8]

4.1  The general background of Chinese historiography

It is generally recognized that western traditions of historiography are more rationally or more scientifically organized than the Chinese one, but on the other,traditional western historical works have not provided more systematic records and detailed descriptions about western historical processes and circumstantial conditions mainly because of the fact that most western historical works in old times had been made by different individuals who had handled the works as their personal intellectual creations. While as regards Chinese official histories organized either by official institutions or by official-ideologically guided individuals, almost all authors shared the similar or even common orthodox intellectual inclinations in their ways of observing, thinking, recording and expressing historical events because they had lived on the similar or common social-cultural-political conditions over 2000 years. Originally speaking, either for the literary or for the academic activities all of them had been organized within the official-ideologicalframeworks. In Chinese tradition, the academic organizers and power-holders were of the same powerful collectives. In the light of this we may understand why there has been an almost logical connection between the intellectual developments and the official-operated academic-ideological-productive customs

 Intellectual speaking, it is stated that the connection between political behaviors and historical jobs in ancient China had been displayed by the two relatively interconnected motives: to obtain useful experiences about past political processes and to apply the reasonable-persuasively convincing means for winning future successes in political struggles. The former was the original source of the official historiography and the latter the strategic-tactic-ideological manipulations when the political practices had become ever-increasingly more complicated and expanded. In the Chinese case, when the intellectual progress had been further promoted around the establishing of the first Empire Qin, the historical mode of thinking and writings became further mature, and the original historical studies with a clear mind for both reaching historical truth and fabricating false historical stories had been formed at the same time. The two different kinds of historical-scholarly consciousness had developed simultaneously: the scientific-tended and the political-ideological-minded. The one lies in finding objective facts and the other in inventing propaganda tool. Since then some more serious historical thinkers and historians gotclearerthat the only correct way for obtaining historical truth (true causations of historical events and their proper moral evaluation) is to rationally examine the represented historical processesand then they could beseparatedfrom the originalhistorical artisans, who had used historical materials mainly for superstitious and primitive-practical purposes. Nevertheless, the weaker and lower historical-cultural conditions restricted the related scholarly level. Still, a classical historiography was gradually formed on the basis of the fragmentarily collected-preserved historical official documents and other historical relics.

The primitive historical scholarship organized by the power-holders and official “historians” together contains two kinds of purposes inherited from traditions in general: how to safeguard and make secure the regimes and how to improve social-political morality of both rulers and subjects. Apparently the two purposes could be unified in the scholarly activities. As regards this kind of historical studies the two different methods are applied: the empirical-rational analysis (rational-directed line) and the political-ideological inventions (supernatural-superstitious line). This mixed way of historical thinking has dominated the direction of about 2000 years’ Chinese official historical scholarship. Meanwhile it indicates anintelligibly self-contradictory but pragmatically coherent character: the empirical-rational thinking and the superstitious-deceptive propaganda. As a result, a pragmatic synthetic entirety of historical practices had been shaped: the unity of moralist-causation and the support of supernatural power. The latter has been also employed by power-holders and by independent historians respectively through a so-called dialectic hermeneutics: in terms of a general conception of “the totalunion of man and heaven”,by whichthe human-natural power can be justified and guaranteed by the supernatural power-Heaven, for the former and power-holders are morally restricted by the same supernatural power-Heaven. Ancient Chinese had been convinced that the double controlling directions of the dogma of heaven power with its all varieties can more synthetically help secure the stability of ru(儒)

-imperial system.


4.2  The establishment of ancient Chinese official historical scholarship

Without a space for a detailed review of the history of Chinese historiography or historical works in this paper we can only point out the fact that there had been a gradual establishing process of Chinese official historiography through a long evolution, starting from the primitive documents-legends roughly produced and kept in remote past, via personal-styled historical writings with those documents-legends, to the formation of the official academic historical institutionalizations and their productions. Because Chinese historical practices, which provided Chinese historiography with basic materials originating at various political offices,even the earlier personal historical writings indicate richly official character expressed by both their ideological frames and official sources of historical material. The so-called first Chinese historical work The Records of History by individual author was made only after the establishment of the Han Empire. The writer was Sima qian, working at office, but then the Empire had not yet had a clear mind about current historical practices and therefore had not yet established a special institution for formally organizing official historiography.The original quasi (primitive)-academic works in China were totally made in offices or governments, which had been the singles possessors of historical documents,but the fact didn’t meanthatall works related to officially reserved materials had been recognized or evaluated highly by political authorities. The long delayed establishments of institutions of official historiographies in Chinese dynastic history means that official understanding and evaluation of political significance of historiography underwent a long span of time. Because the original emphasis of official historical consciousness had been placed on its political-moral-ideological function, which had been already undertook by the basic academic ru(儒)

-textualsystem of “5-Classics”. Broadly speaking, from very beginning of original Chinese scholarship the primitive-historical and primitive-philosophical works had been closely mixed together; or, the primitive-theoretical mode of Chinese mentality had been characterized by a historical-central-typed way of philosophizing.

Simply speaking, the ru(儒)-ideology plays a three-fold function through the official historical documents: the moral indoctrination about the duty of absolute obedience of subjects to the emperors as Heaven’s sons; the faithful frights of emperors in front of their “heaven father”; and plain people’s fear for the forceful punishments from the heaven through the empirical-touchable coercionsof empires. In light of the basic functions an ideological doctrine about the objective historical laws has been gradually shaped. As a result, the third basic function of the ru(儒)-system was reduced to that expressed in the indoctrination of existence of objective historical laws that were convinced to be natural-logically supportive of any current and next successful new rulers, who had beenlegally survived alongthe same objectively supported historical lineage of power-holders. This means, the sequential existence at temporal-dimension presents a quasi-objective-logical order that has been said to be consistent with the will of Heaven or with the historical-symbolic signs of the latter. The political ideology of ru(儒)-doctrines, which has dominated Chinese history over 2000 years, implies the additional basic dogmas that the actual lineage of Chinese ruling systems displayed and confirmed in long history has been believed to base itself on an objectively necessary “historical-logic” secured by a mythical-styled supernatural cosmic Power. The joined power of Heaven-will and the cosmic-logical tao have been unified to doubly secure the Heaven-chosen mundane-powers. Thisbecomesthe very essence of the ru(儒)-doctrine system embodied and justified in the related historical texts. This political-ideological fabrication can show how significant the historiographic practices and records have been in the long Chinese civilization.

With the total composition of ru(儒)-imperial system as our understanding background,this paper is focused not only on B-line but especially on its ru(儒)-academic-ideological mechanism as such, which has been mainly embodied and operated in the ru(儒)-historiography-system.

A line, or the hard-part of ru(儒)-system, can be included into the general category of political-institutional history; its structure and function can be widely comparable with studies of all other despotic-traditional histories. But the subject is not our main topic in this paper. Regarding the soft-part, its part of intellectual discourses was connected to the general religious-intellectual relationship. In its general sense, the so-called ideological phenomenon is about the synthetic relationships between the mythical-superstitious and the intellectual-scholarly elements with a purpose to stimulatea reasonablefaith in certain supernatural-logical bi-determinism. The ideological aspect will be more typically displayed when the related intellectual part is advanced to the academic-scholarly level. If western theological tradition is a kind of religious ideology, the Chinese ru(儒)-classical tradition is a kind of earthy-empirical-directed academic ideology implying an implicitlyreligious-tended underpinning. As we point out, the Chinese heaven-religious mentality is in essence a mundane-typed religion, because its ultimate goal remains to be related to life on earth. This worldly-directed heaven-worship had naturally evolved to the humanity-intellectual dimension: the scholarly domains. Or, the quasi-religious justification of the ru(儒)-heaven-worship is evidenced by the correspondent temporal scholarship. In other words, the supernatural part of ru(儒)-faith system does not only serve the earthy aims but also need to be justified by the secular way of reasoning: the supernatural faith and natural justification are delicately unified. It is not the natural that serves the supernatural but rather that it is the supernatural that serves the natural. On a lower level the Chinese family-piety religion indicates the similar character. So the secular religion of ru(儒)-system can obtain a more convincing empirical-rational foundation. (On contrast, for the genuine religious traditions, people have to appeal to fictive imaginations)

Different from all other ancient theocratic-typed regimes directly based on the combination of the supernatural religious and the temporal political powers, ru(儒)-imperial system works through secular scholarly-ideological media. The latter is embodied in its special mode of ru(儒)-historiography. The ru(儒)-political-faith is not realized in a direct-intuitive trust in supernatural gods but rather in a mediated humanist rationality: an empirical-rational-directed historiographic way of presenting the justified interpersonal relationships, which nevertheless reflect and symbolize the heaven-religious intentions and an absolute logic. In other words, ru(儒)-political-ideological system is, firstly, academic-scholarly justified in mundane order of power and, secondly, quasi-religiously evidenced in the heaven-symbolism. The earthy-power-order of the former is based on and supported by the superpower-order of the latter. ru(儒)-political-religion is expressed in an interconnection and interaction between the earthy power and the heaven power.


4.3  The ru(儒)-imperial System of Five-Classics and its historiographic character

The institutional difference between the short-lived and long-lived empires lies in that the Han, in addition to adopting Qin’s hard-styled despotic control system, invented also a soft-styled cultural system of academic-ideological construction called ru(儒)-learning systems which had been embodied in 5 series of classical texts of historical-documentary nature. The system of classical texts is in fact a mixture of the broken historical-legendary documents and supernatural-superstitious indoctrination maintaining that the worldly rulers are the sons of the most powerful Heaven, which is also the final judge on human affairs via compulsory law-regulations. And the so-called official historical documents are taken as the records of the lineage of successive heaven’s sons, or the heaven-appointed privileged power-holders on earth, which conduct according tothe moral normsgivenby thatobjective cosmic almighty. Therefore, the powerful supernatural authority had been taken as the solid foundation of the Chinese political lineage consisting of ancient kings and later emperors that are arranged by Heaven along that moral-logical-directed historicaltrack. The essence of ru(儒)-ideology always lies in the knowledge with an absolute epistemological authority based on cosmic and earthy objectivity. Similarly, in a less sophisticated form, ru(儒)-historical-science has played the same rhetoric trick through presenting a historical objectivity. And the first function of the historiographic-typed system of ru(儒)

-classical texts lies in textually disclosing the continuous historical tracesregulated by heavens. Therefore, the ru(儒)-learning’s ideological functions are expressed in the hint that all Chinese rulers have been supported by the most powerful force in the universe: the Heaven. A characteristic feature of this Chinese national “First Cause and Top Authority”, however, has been indicated by the lack of its detailed attributions. The less-logical, less-religious and more pragmatic-inclined tendency of ancient Chinese national spirit feels happy with accepting this worship forthe not anthropomorphized quasi-deity, because this superstitious mode of faith can be still consistent with the national empiricist temperament. Consequently, the absolute domination of the despotic rulers have been not only morally justified or supernaturally authorized but also obtained anabsolute security from the highest power in universe.

The contents and themes of the 5 classics are about the so-called officially preserved speeches and conducts of past historical and legendary kings or power-holders, which have been systematically compiled into the official historical works about pre-Qin Chinese general history guided by Heaven-appointed/approved lineage of Chinese kings, and also provide the basic ideological framework for organizing and guiding the official historiography writings. This original textual system, which was based on the created historical ruler-lineage consisting of partly documentary, partly oral-legendary, and partly mythological-created stories, should be included into academic category of the primitive historical studies or historiography. An important historical fact is that,despite its long-standing ancient history,the original real-academic practices in Chinese history had officially commenced only since the establishment of the despotic Han Empire, which was able to firstly provide sufficient materials and synthetic conditions consisting of technical, cultural, intellectual and political aspects for actually organizing the academic activities in Chinese history; and therefore it was also the first period of book-productions in Chinese history when these primitive books were only the collected handwritten fragmentary texts on bamboo slips and silks. Because of slowly gradual development of writing practices in ancient history, the producing and editing ways of historical writings indicate that the earlier historical facts and stories had been usually collected, compiled and written down in the much later periods. The customs in the transmitted historical writings had led to the extensive confusion that, because of much lower conditions for recording and preserving official-historical experiences, and even owing to the earlier weaker intellectual consciousness and capability ofwriting intellectual thoughts beyond practical or routineneeds, the factual records lacking in definite signs of dates and locations and the transmitted related historical legends can hardly be separated clearly. The fact that the pre-Qin historical writings must be the mixed works consisting of fragmentary documents, systematic legends and later imaginative fabrications indicates that we can hardly take them as the genuine “historical works” in a modern sense, although they are very important material about ancient thought. (More precisely, the so-called pre-Qin ancient thought is mostly also that formed around Han rather thaninthe periods depicted in the writings) So it is natural that another characteristic feature in ancient historiography is naturally displayed by a twofold literary style: the legendary deities had been graduallyanthropomorphized and the real-or-legendary human rulers had been graduallydeified at the same time. Along this habitual line of fabricating historical imaginations many remote original Chinese kings recorded in both theru(儒)-system of 5 classics, which were systematically compiled in Han, and the first Chinese general history the Records of History, which was written in Han, are proved by many modern Chinese historians to be the imaginative results out of ancient mythological deities, especially those original kings in the merely legendary dynasty Xia(夏)(2100-1600 B.C.) and the historical dynasty Shang. (Its primitively modest social, political and cultural conditions have been extremely covered up by the later finished writings about Shang(商)and Xia(夏)) On one hand, this historiographic process was due to a natural mentality of a people who were always curious for tracing back to the signs of their earlier ancestors through constantly memorizing names of past rulers and important events and continuously exercising retrospective imaginations about reconstructing the past storiesmore and more consistently. On the other hand, the spiritual impulse for using this historical imagination is owing to the ideological request for constructing a convincing written system to show a long historically exhibited existence of the supernatural-authorized heritage of ancient kings. In a word, the traditional Chinese historical ideology is characterized by its inventive combination between the supernatural-religious and natural-historical forces, which had been carried out through combining the empirical rationality and superstitious-speculation in order to doubly strengthen the profile of stability and security of primitive political regimes, which are convinced to be deeply rooted in the so-called historical logic. In respect of the historical-ideological productions the historiography-reconstructing inclination was also displayed in a simplistic national wish for extending the temporal span of Chinese dynastic history. The length itself of the existence of the organized power-holdershas alwaysbecome the valueitself, which can be in essence reduced to the kind of worship forhistoricalpower-holders.

 Following the natural progress of intellectual life in Chinese history, after the firm establishment of the sacred historical mythology about the ancient power-holder-lineage during the whole Chinese history, it is interesting to note that the original inclination for empirical rationality had also developed with a result that the empirical-rational-directed historical thinking had been gradually advanced within the fixed academic-ideological practices as well. That means this empirical-rational-directed historical thinking was mostly expressed in historical writings whose referents or scholarly objectives are in actuality the historical processes originating in the Qin-Han period, and especially expressed in the preparative works about writing the recent, contemporary and current histories, including the historiography-ideal for recording and describing historical truth by means of more rationally convincing empirical-inductive methods. As a result, the extremely huge and amazingly rich institutions and traditions of Chinese official historiography have been gradually established.


In consequence, the ru(儒)-historical-ideological applications have been eventually realized in two channels: the ru(儒)-imperial 5-part system of classical texts as the fundamental “theoretical” doctrines (historical-typed quasi-philosophy in Chinese sense) and the series of ru(儒)-official historiography systems in the successive ru(儒)-dynastiessince Han. Despite the fact that the contents of the both channels are about historical subject matters, the first one’s  refers to words, conducts, and stories about either legendary oractual rulers occurring in the pre-Qin or pre-centralized despotic periods of Chinese ancient history, which are not only no longer be empirically examined but also sacredly rigidified as dogmas. The historiography of the Five-Classics functions as the basic ideological foundations of all ru(儒)-imperial systems in history and also as certain kind of “theories” about the absolute authorization of the political power of Chinese historical rulers. Differently from the similar basic doctrines of other civilizations related either to the religious believes or to logical-philosophies, the ru(儒)-imperial fundamentals were of a quasi-theoretical, quasi-religious-political and historiography type. Or, the ru(儒)

-imperial ideology can be regarded as a political-typed religion includinga historiography-typed theory that presents itself through historical texts.


Among its polytheist customs the unique top quasi-deity is the non-anthropomorphized supernatural notion “Heaven” that is different from all other real religions by its simplified supernatural-dominating roles restricted in the authorizing and supervising of the worldly governance and domination, and by its being only allowed to be worshiped by the state rulers. In other words, according to the ru(儒)-hierarchical regulations concerning supernatural-and-worldly worship systems, the heaven-worship belongs to the privilege of emperor family only. For the most ordinary people, beside a variety of folk-worships, their main objects of worship are the dead family ancestors, and this quasi-supernatural worship about ancestors can be taken as the ideological extension of natural interpersonal morality guided by the family-piety tradition. In a sense the worship of Heaven is also a kind of extended family-piety regarding the mutual interaction between the ruler as the son of heaven and the heaven as the father of emperors. This plain simile between relationship of father-son and that of heaven-emperor could be more easily accepted and obeyed by ignorant mass majority with a result to sacralize the identity of imperial families; namely the humanist-empirical relationship of the former is misleadingly used to prove the supernatural-speculative one of the latter. This ru(儒)-worship-doctrine of double-piety isfirst of allemphatically expressed in the 5-classics. The famous ru(儒)-doctrine of piety looks like a pure family morality, the essence of which is linked to the double subjugation mechanism to both the earthy and heaven power-holders. The 5-classics system as a series of sacred historical texts functions a religious-political-ideological “ru(儒)-Bible” that actualizes the unification between the supernatural power of heaven and the mundane power of emperors.

The ideological political doctrines expressed in the 5-classics became symbolically the absolute morality model for philosophical beliefs, political behaviors and daily conducts of rulers, subjects and ordinary people. Concretely, systems of laws and rules of manners have been mostly established by the existing rulers, whose authority is generally recognized as being given by the heaven functioning as some absolute-powerful objectivity. And the almost all historical phenomena of scholarly confirmable political, social and cultural activities had happened since the establishments of Qin-Han dynasties and had been expressed in the official or standard historical works made in different dynamic periods over about 2000 years. We can emphasize that only the historical writings finished in the post-Qin Chinese history, or the Standard History,can be taken as the genuine Chinese historical writings whose texts, authors, forming-processes and intellectual effects can be rationally examined even according to modern historical methodologies. This is another reason why we should distinguish the 5-classics’ typed Chinese historiography (as the sacred national classics of beliefs in the moral-ideological rules and orders by historical-power-holders) and the post-Qin historiography (as academic records of actual Chinese historical experiences).


4.4  The political and intellectual functions of the StandardHistory as standard historical writings

If the historical words and conducts of the original pre-Qin power-holders in the ru(儒)-5-classics system (“jing”(经), literally: classics) play the roles as the guiding principles for public/private faiths, moral laws and behavior-manners, which were not directly and indirectly experienced by Han people, the main parts of narratives and facts of the standard histories (shi) are based on materials that were almost empirically accessible, namely the used documents and sayings were either almost verifiable or empirically believable. The empirical verifiability of “shi” (史)(history) and the speculative acceptability of “jing” (经)(5-classics) commonly compose the Chinese culture of historiography, in which “jing”(经)(or epitomized as ru(儒)-history A) functions as the fundamental codes of national beliefs and moral codes based on the power and logic of the imaginative Heaven-Tao and “shi” (史)(or epitomized as ru(儒)-history B) functions as the applications of those codes in describing the actual historical processes. Following the natural development of Chinese intelligence and cultural knowledge, Chinese rulers and intellectuals had more and more felt the compelling necessity and profitable utility of empirical-confirmable evidences and empirical-rational reasoning in historiographic practices. Either for understanding the past political-historical truth or for improving and correcting political-tactic methods in future, the increased empirical rationality should be relevantly necessary. Although this slowly increased rational capability had been gradually employed in social-cultural practices, Chinese thinkers and historians had never got clearly conscious of the related facts and scholarly necessity in their scholarship. Because of the constant stagnation of the scientific-directed rationality in Chinese intellectual history, the ideal for seeking historical truth had remained at mere abstract level. They had kept a collective belief that the wisdom and knowledge of original ancestors formed and supported by Heaven are the best and the intelligent capability of humanity has been unchanged although the actual capability of Chinese intellectuals was indeed gradually increased with respect to their actual cultural practices, as the situation of Song dynasty indicates. This unconsciously increased capability of exercising empirical rationality in intellectual practices in fact stimulated the interest in and the inclination to finding empirical reality especially in historiography scholarship among all intellectual practices, because by thinking and writing historical subjects, scholars have to naturally above all pay a closer attention to the trusted empirical facts.


4.5  The aims and functions of the Standard History and the two meanings of historical logic

The Chinese official historiography or the Standard History contains two kinds of historical writings which had been finished according to the official ideological and habitual standards or rules involved and being included in the State Book Series of the standard historical writings. The one was those written by individuals and the other was those organized by the historical offices. The latter as the official historiography refers to almost only those made since the establishment of the related official institutions starting as late as in Tang dynasty (618-907 A.C.), which was the second largest centralized Chinese ru-empire after Han. That means, this big Chinese medieval dynasty started to be more conscious of the practical significance of the guided official historiography that was taken as another important ideological weapon for strengthening the despotic political regime. Despite the strengthening of political organization of and supervision over historical writings since the building-up of special institutions for organizing official historical works the development doesn’t mean the individual freedom for historical thinking becomes more seriously restricted, because from very beginning of the formation of Chinese historical writings ru(儒)-imperial historians or scholars living under the despotic regimes had been able already to self-consciously control their own ways of thinking according to commonly shared political-ideological frames and the related scholarly-practicing conditions. In a broad sense, just like many Chinese literary and artistic works formed in regularly fixed or stereotyped patterns, the traditional Chinese historical writings, since the formation of the first Chinese historical work the Records of Historians, had been automatically performed according to the fixed purpose, patterns, styles and principles, which can be traced back to the so-called original-national archetypes of historical writings indicated in the 5-classics. Regarding the stereotyped way of writing historical works, we should add that there is a separate reason different from the political-ideological one, for the ways of composing prosaic and poetic writings in old China are almost all organized in the stereotyped modes. The implication of the fact should be analyzed in a separate literary-semiotic study.

These two systems of ru(儒)-historiography had officially existed across all different dynasties, including those dominated by foreign conquerors. (The two non-Chinese-racial aggressors of Mongolia and Manchuria, respectively establishing Yuan(元)and Ching(清)dynasties, were willing to follow the same ru(儒)-imperial political/ideological systems because the twoaggressive powershad remained in barbarian states then. They believed that the formalist conversion to or incorporation in the traditional Chinese political-cultural systems were beneficiary for their own domination over the conquered Chinese people: “we use your way to more effectively control you”(this means, the foreign aggressive race becomes the master and the conquered race turns to be slaves, while the latter is stillironicallysatisfied withthe result that the conquering foreign master adopts the dominating skills of the conquered race). And it was sarcastic that the traditional Chinese’s reaction to this way of conversion of foreign aggressors into rulers over Chinese land has beenlike this: “foreign aggressors are ultimately conquered by great Chinese civilization”. As a matter of fact, regardless of different historical and geographic backgrounds, everybody has been satisfied in making use of the same historical lineage of power-holders through being ideologically recognized to be a heaven-authorized member within the same historical-logical line. (Even some modern new Chinese regime has followed this same feudalist historical-truth ideology) In essence, in Chinese mentality the two systems of historical writings are unified; all rulers and people had all the time existed and should continue existing under the singly unique ideological framework that we may call ru(儒)-imperial system of truth/power, which had been authorized and supported by the top cosmic power-holder Heaven or the heaven Almighty.


4.6  The academic/ideological labor-division between ru(儒)-history A and ru(儒)-history B

The static historical system of 5-classics-series and the dynamic historical system of the Standard History (totally including the so-called 24-dynasty historical-writing series) play different roles in carrying out the unified ru(儒)-academic-ideological tasks. The former promulgates the permanently authoritative orders and rules established by the original kings depictedin historical legends through presenting their words and conducts in Chinese historical stories, playing a role that looks like the social-political constitution for Chinese race and nation. The latter presents a quite different character by its reference to real historical processes (those about the immediate preceding dynasties and even the contemporary dynasties) since the Qin-Han period. It is the Standard History that is empirically more positive, and its task lies in observing, recording and compiling historical events and words of varies kinds. Although, according to the ru(儒)-ideological priority, the Classics is superior to the Standard history and plays the role of general intellectual guidance over the latter, it is the Standard History that functions as the genuine historical practices. A Chinese hermeneutics about ru(儒)-classical scriptures had been performed along a fixed ru(儒)-imperial-ideological lineage with a purpose to interpret the meaning and significance of the sacred historical texts and its only object is the texts as such. While a Chinese historiography in the Standard History must refer to both documentary texts and social realities with a purpose firstly to construct the historical works, which would be preordained for being included into the unified ru(儒)-historical-writing system displaying an authoritative lineage of Chinese historical powers based on the heaven power. For the two systems of historical writings, despite their being rooted in the same academic-ideological framework, they are divergent with respect to objects, objectives and scholarly purposes. With the same aim to display the ru(儒)-defined historical truth the ru(儒)-Classics is not empirically verifiable,while the Standard History must live in a constant intellectual-tensional pressures between following the historical facts and obeying the despotic-political-ideological-moral principles. After all ru(儒)-historians about the Standard History have possessed a much greater freedom for realizing intellectual creations and expressing ethical praxis, in which, we may assert, an intellectual freedom is basically inspired by ren(仁)-Confucian ethics.

It was in the next long dynasty Song lasting over almost another three centuries, which has been generally regarded as the greatest period concerning cultural and academic achievements in Chinese history, that the ru(儒)-historiography attained at its highest level, with respect to both the official and private historical works and writings. Regarding the categories of historical writings we may mention the following types as examples: the standard periodic histories of biographic patterns, the general history of genealogical type, the Encyclopedia-classificatory reference books of history, a great number of note-books about political, social, cultural and academic observations and reflections, as well as a huge number of philosophical, literary and artistic essays in connection with historical subject matters. In brief, all ancient literary writings can be included into the category of Chinese intellectual history.


The historical works published in the Song, however, indicates paradoxically two different or inconsistent characters: on one hand the empirical-rational tendency was obviously increased and on the other the speculative/metaphysical tendency was also unprecedentedly advanced. The former led to the advancement of the capability of performing empirical-causality, making historical thinking and writings more rationally acceptable; while the latter led to the intensification of Tao-metaphysical-directed, quasi-logical dogmatism about general morality in historical writings too. Thus we see there are two different concepts of historical truth being stressed in the scholarly practices: the one is basically defined by the empirical verification based on the rational induction, namely the empirical truth; and the other is axiologically defined by the strengthened metaphysical/despotic-political morality in addition to the ru(儒)-academic-ideology. The former is about the ability for making distinction between correct and false and the latter is that about distinguishing good and bad. The serious point lies in that the latter is given in terms of a Taoist-directed imaginative-objective metaphysics and a Buddhist-inherited psychological ontology; the two religious sources, nevertheless, provide two different speculative models. The Taoist one is directed to the external Heavenly Tao and the Buddhist one to the internal psychological nature. Accordingly, this neo-ru(儒)-imperial philosophical trend characterized by their focus on their respective theoretical reasoning (also called “li”, literally “theorizing”) provided the original historical/political ru(儒)-imperial-ideology with a quasi-theoretical foundation. In essence this theoretical elaboration was mainly related to the fundamental problems concerning both Confucian ethics and ru(儒)-imperial moral-ideology. While on the other hand, Song’s thought, scholarship and writings about history have had also been advanced with respect to the scholarly-technical aspects in addition to a highly intensified consciousness of historical ethics and morality. Still, historical writings were performed within the traditional tension that was reduced to that between two kinds of thinking about historical causality that had been taken as determining the developing lines of historical processes, although the two determinative mechanisms cannot keep any mutual rational links with each other: the one remains to be its Heaven-supernatural-directed deductive-determinism and the other the empirical-observable, reductive-reasoning.


4.7  Meaning of historical truth in the traditional Chinese historiography

In either western or Chinese traditions the mixed usage of the term “history” have prevailed all the times. More complicatedly, in China the term “shi” (history) can even refer to several different items linking to this same character such as: historical processes, historiography, historians, history-related original divination practitioners, simple note-hands, the earliest type of the “secretary” who is engaged in any kind of scribing, even all kinds of “knowing persons” who practices on astrology, divination and medicines. The polysemy of “shi” indicates also a historically increased process of intelligence involved in historical thinking and practices in China. This polysemous identity of original historical thinking can in part explain the long scholarly preference for the text-central historiography, namely taking the transmitted historical documents of any kind as the object of contemporary historical studies, or the scope of historical investigations is restricted to the available texts. This historical-writing-central historiography naturally leads to the intellectual inclination towards the literary aspects in historical texts when cultural and literary level had been gradually advanced. The inclination has of course increased conversely further focus on texts, which accordingly increase the ambiguity of the scholarly category concerning historical studies. By the way, we may find the original senses of the character “shi” are largely overlapped with those of character “ru”(儒). Yes, different characters could share closely mutual-exchangeable senses in the highly disorderly linguistic and semantic world of ancient times. In general, etymologically speaking, character shi (史)can be traceable to earlier remote past than ru(儒).

But on the other hand, as we pointed out above, the historian is always faced with externally existing or occurring “matters” and “events”. This scholarly condition makes him different from the ancient philosopher who onlyneeds tocare about reasoning itself at intellect level. So ancient historians has naturally cherished the idea for distinguishing between true and false as well as right and wrongin an empirical-positive sense; or, we may say, his mind must be oriented to the objective historical truth outside texts. Since the arrival of western modern sciences western historians have possessed more and more scientific and technical conceptions and means for advancing their possibility for carrying out historical-scientific practices. In ancient China the gap betweenahistorian’s ideal for reaching objective historical truth and the pre-scientific conditions for realizing that ideal have remained to be regretfully great. Nevertheless, on the other hand, this constitutive-confused scholarly condition presents a special clue regarding a special conception of historical truth. There has been therefore a basic contradiction in Chinese historical reasoning regarding the relationship between the empirical-causal truth and the speculative-moral truth. The former had slowly but steadily developed, that is mainly expressed in the system of the Standard History, and the latter had kept its historically unchanged ideological-dogmatic constancy, which is expressed in the ru(儒)-fundamentalist framework universally accepted and used in historical writings. Consequently there exist two meanings of term “truth”: the empirical-verifiable one and the superstitious-ideological-confirmable one. The first aim of traditional Chinese historiography is to historically present the verifiable existence and justification of the authorized power-lineage of Chinese rulers supported by Heaven. The very convincing appearance of the generations of king-families in historical texts is generally taken as the repeated confirmation of the ru(儒)-doctrines about kings’ sacredly noble background that signifies their dominations are not only legally justified but also unavoidable or irresistible in character. The combination between the standard history writings and the ru(儒)-classical scriptures presents a special joined textual system that attempts to express the two kinds of historical truth. The superstitious heaven-power mechanism implicates double aspects: on one hand it indicates and realizes its selective support for the existing regimes or emperors and on the other hand it also indicates a function of supervising and judging the moral expressions of emperors. So, according to this heaven-hermeneutics the empirical-rational reasoning and the supernatural-superstitious interpretation can be arbitrarily combined to attain the most profitable effect. For the standards aboutmorality is after all to be fixed by interpersonal justice; and all fighting rivals call their enemies moral-evil and the defeated enemies are interpreted as basically being discarded “logically” by the heaven almighty.

This alternatively workable supernatural-founded political logic pragmatically leaves a space usedfor interpreting the actual historical developments consistently, and a pragmatic wisdom had been shown that the two contradictory historical-political mechanisms could be ru(儒)-hermeneutically compatible. These two interlinked functions of the earth-directed supernatural philosophy were also meaningful for the governed officials and common people alternatively: on one hand the ideological mechanism was much helpful for their willing wishes for obedience to the Heaven-supported rulers and on the other, it can encourage officials and people, on principle if not in reality, to help Heaven to supervise and advice the rulers; this possibility would form indirectly, to a quite limited extent, a counter-restriction on the rulers(that basically depends on how wise the ruler himself could be in face with other’s criticism). Therefore, the resultant effects of this superstitious ideological system about power philosophy had been eventually conductive to forming an objective mechanism that, from both ideological and empirical-rational angles, helps secure the lasting stability of the ru(儒)

-imperial historical-political ideological systems.

The traditional Chinese way of reasoning is essentially characterized by its empirical-pragmatic-rational tendency. It is generally said that Chinese mentality lacks the genuine religious interest in that all superstitious, mythical, speculative, quasi-religious and metaphysical beliefs and customs are implicative of a strong mundane-utilitarian character. That means, the traditional religious phenomena, ranging from worship of Heaven and natural polytheism to that of ancestors and family superior members, all are expected to serve the living people about their worldly bless and benefits through a mythically believed self-family-protecting power-sourcesinsome supernatural world. Until the coming of Indian Buddhism, ancient Chinese people, in spite of a general imaginative notion about after-word life, had a strong concern about the material benefits of this life. And all those quasi-religious imaginations were contributive to the welfare of the lively people; accordingly even the meaning of dead forefathers lies in protecting and helping their living offspring. But, essentially speaking, the successful development of Chinese Buddhism has been also due to the fact that their vision of the everlasting longevity beyond natural death amounts toa more rhetorically convincing theorization. 

On the other hand, despite its worldly character, the quasi-religious philosophy of the ru(儒)-classics can indeed arouse the same sacred veneration for and deep belief in the Heaven-supported primordial kings. We may call this metaphysical-supernatural worship a kind of mundane religious spirit whose historical workability in part lies in the delicate usage of the ambiguous status of the concept Heaven. On one hand heaven indeed implies some supernatural and powerful elements with moral intentionality for taking care of the fortune of mankind and maintaining the justices in this worldand on the other the status of this sublime being is emptied in respect of its appearance and concrete features. Heaven has been imagined as only a set of mysteriously imaginedfunctions in association with fortunes of mankind. That means, those functions are only indicated in human world, or seemingly are only concerned about or interfere in human affairs.


In terms of the above we can understand that heaven-mechanism in Chinese historical processes and writings only function as a basic framework whose role is eventually disclosed in realizing moral praises and violent punishments of rulers for ruled people. The true judging standardsstillneed toaccord withthe empirical humanitarian ethical principlesoriginating in human nature. The so-called preordained results determined by Heaven’s instructions are only a supplementary confirmation made after the event! The truth is that in daily life people perform thought and organize conducts purely following empirical-rational wisdom and confirmable calculation, while the final results of those thought and conducts are rhetorically interpreted as basically determined by a mysteriously superior,unseen power of heavens. In terms of this the heaven-mechanism doesn’t participate in the real political-historical processes in human affairs although the political agents make use of the Heaven-theory as an ideological and quasi-religious propaganda to convince most illicit, lower-intelligent and weak-willed common people in various ways. It remains instrumental to convince people that successes and failures concerning political agents, either rulers or rebellions, have been basically under the sway of this universally believed, cosmological-judge-power.The faith in objective necessity leads to the willing to accept the reality!Nevertheless, on the other hand, this superstitious-ideological-schemed dogma also strangely allows the empirical reasoning concerning interpersonal struggles to operate independently without immediate interference in those interpersonal struggles ahead of time. Therefore empirical-rational reasoning can in fact prevail in historical and political practices and historical writings, forming a special type of traditional Chinese empirical-rationality.

The universal applicability of mundane-central Chinese Heaven-faith had been displayed also in the side of challengers or ravels against thecurrentruling-classes. They could make use of this same quasi-religious notion according to the exactly the same logic: to call the current decayed situations of regimes the discarded one by Heaven or just to intentionally fabricate deceptive symbols befallen from heavens. Thus, the initiated rebellion can be said that it acts following the instruction ordered by heavens against some immoral anti-heaven bad emperor: that literallymeans:“actualize the goal of rebellion according to the Taoof Heaven”. The logic works so simply for the pragmatic mentality that anybody plans and acts completely according to empirical-rational wisdom of fajia(法家)-line during the processes of concrete struggles (that means: the true logicinvolvedremains empirical-rational in nature) but at the same time he declares (according to a ru(儒)-heaven-hermeneutics) his actions are in fact arranged and supported by heavens (in a modern term,“heaven” functions as some objective necessary law and thereforemust be obeyed). So a double guarantee is fixed: the natural talent of the human operator plus the supernatural bless given by heavens. Although the heaven-superstition looks absurd from a modern point view its actual effect and practical value has been indicated by the fact of its real psychological productivity displayed both collectively and individually with respect to the strengthened and multiplied self-faith of actors, no matter they are rulers or ruled, enwrapped in their strenuously desperate fighting. The basic impulse for the belief in this Heaven-hermeneutics is due to the deep-rooted lust in human nature for power-seizing, and this human nature is instinctively embedded in its rude beast nature. After all, human being is a blend combination between the human and the animal.

For most private and official historians engaged in production of the standard history writings within the fundamental-ideological framework, the meaning and purposes of Chinese historiography practices, including aspects of writing and reading alike, can be quite roughly outlined in the following:


·       The empirical verification and practical confirmation about moral justification of the currently existent dynasty that has replaced the preceded dynasty discarded by the logic of Heaven (according tothe intention of heavens);

·       The alteration or replacement of dynasties factually recorded and morally affirmed in historical writings can confirm that the moral conditions and the newly assigned  heaven-mandate authority of the present dynasty must be superior to those of the preceded ones destroyed or replaced, so as to secure belief in and obedience tothe current regimes;

·       Most historical writings in the Standard History are the scholarly works dealt with by the present dynasty about the prior defeated or replaced one, the fact can lead to keep or increase a relatively fair attitude in historical-writing guidance and agents in their scholarly jobs as well as to relax their self-worries about ideological restrictions for writings and to decrease their possible fabrications in historical writing in favor of the current rulers’ interest. As a result, serious rulers and historians can be both motivated by their purely empirical-rational-directed intelligent curiosity for exploring true causations in the related historical processes as well as to eagerly learn from both utilitarian and moral lessons involved as objectively as possible. The derived consequence is certainly positive for the scholarly progress of Chinese historiography in general.

·       Under the general fixed ideological frame after all a great number of facts, narratives, analyses and experiences had been collected and kept in the written textual reservoir, becoming important objects or sources of the traditional Chinese knowledge. Besides, despite the rigidified quasi-religious-ideological knowledge about the fundamental classics, Chinese intellectuals, including both historians and general literati, had maintained a historiography-central interest in humanitarian learning.

·       For both ruling families and general literati the standard historical writings became one of the most important and effective sources for moral inspiration and intellectual preparation concerning the designed political and intellectual projects.

·       In a deeper sense the standard historical writings function also as the stimulating and inspiring tools used for promoting moral/utilitarian-directed will-training and moral-character-education. For Chinese ru-literati the reading of historical writings amounts to a process of spiritual drill for ethical self-purification as well as to that of learning from empirical-rational knowledge.


5. The epistemological-pragmatic tension between ru(儒)-learning of power philosophy and ren(仁)-learning of ethical subjectivity within ru(儒)-imperial academic ideology

 5.1 The two types of reasoning in ru(儒)-historiography

The imaginative-supernatural moral-ideological ideal, which isreified in the half-recorded and half-fabricated, transmitted broken historical documents of the Five-Classics (ru(儒)-history-A) and the empirical-rationally operated, worldly-natural, strategic-tactic experiences about power-competitions recorded in the verifiable historical writings (ru(儒)-history-B),dialectically combine an nationally characteristic typology of ru(儒)-pragmatic-directed intellectual tradition. In this special sense we may assert that the traditional Chinese system of pragmatic philosophy is the one shaped and embodied in the historical texts, rather than the one determined in any logical-deductive line resulting in some “first philosophy”. In terms of the fore-mentioned discussions we see the individual scholars or historians can indeed perform an empirical-rational-directed historical investigations and writings under the two-fold restrictive conditions: the metaphysical-speculative political-religious guidance— ru(儒)-fundamentalist doctrines and the intelligent-technical limitation concerning historical studies and writings. It was within this doubly restricted framework the traditional Chinese historians and general scholars had developed their special capability of empirical-rational-directed historical thinking and scholarship with a view to search for historical truthinit’s both causal and moral senses.

In certain sense we maintain that the traditional Chinese way of thinking is mostly the moral-evaluative-predisposed rather than the scientific-intellectual-directed. Or, all empirical-rational-directed ways of thinking are eventually reduced to their utility for effective moral judgments on historical events, including both positive and negative ones. The primitive scientific ways of thinking were always on one hand under the sway of the ru(儒)-moral-ideological preconditions and on the other served the moral judgments on historical processes according to the standards set down by the former. Under the same ru(儒)-fundamentalist framework the same empirical-rational ways of historical thinking, systematically recorded in the standard histories, can be used for the two-fold purpose: from the emperor-official (the ruling class) positions to increase the knowledge and practical wisdom about technique for securing regimes of the existing dynasties and from the general readers of literati to satisfy their intellectual and ethical curiosity and meet with their utopian political dreams according to the empirical-rational-directed conclusions about historical truth. The psychological satisfaction of the latter’s type (based on ru(儒)-history-B) can even be strengthened further by appealing to another type of worship on the ru(儒)-classics (based on ru(儒)-history-A). An example can be shown by spiritual experience concerning the experience of reading the class The Book of Change, which can be interpreted as the detailed structure of Chinese heaven/tao-superstition and its regulated mechanism, especially when the reader painfully exists in a seriously depressed or decayed situation. This mixed type of exercising alternatively the empirical-rational and the speculative-imaginative knowledge for organizing one’s epistemological frame regarding a crucially challenging situation suffered by the reader. For theru(儒)class-book can provide a fictively created objective social-cosmological logic or law (ru(儒)-history-A) to intensify the reader’s confidence firstly gained through reading the related standard history in an empirical-rational way (ru(儒)-history-B). The point involved lies in that the special construction of this so-called first ru(儒)-class The Change allows readers to almost wishfully interpret the meaning of his actual situations and desirable solutions. Here, once again, however, Chinese intellectual’s wisdom is expressed in this way: firstly he indeed does his best to gain empirical-rational understanding and make a decision concerned and secondly appeals to the ru(儒)-ideology of heaven/tao for a psychologically self-satisfaction as a self-convincing complement. Thisru(儒)-class-learning therefore plays a double role for Chinese mentality: firstly as the restrictive precondition for scholarly practices and secondly as the artificially used dogmatic faith to secure one’s related empirical-rational understanding.

A more relevantly mixed mode of organizing historical analysis is the combinative use of the empirical-inductive inferences about causal connections of personal external behaviors and the empirical-inductive reasoning about motivational connections of internal intentions and external results of personal parameters, including motives, words and conducts. The historians not only need to infer the true connections between the prior and poster actions and obtain the general rules from reductive conclusions, but also attempt to find the moral-related links, namely related actors’ morally positive or negative responsibility for the external results. The involved moral considerations will further be associated with the moral judgments and actual interferences of Heaven-power. Although readings of historical texts can relatively increase readers’ experiences in historical-causational knowledge the resultant effects of historical readings lie in renewed experiences in causal connections between people’s ethical motives and related historical results. In other words, the empirical-rational experiences gained from reading historical texts are tantamount to the means or preparative stages for readers to reach certain ethical self-reflections and moral inspirations, which become one of the genuine purposes inhistorical reading. One reason is that, because of less-changeable types of historical processes and historical writings, the experiences and knowledge obtained through reading historical texts amount to a repetition of the same intellectual and moral-feeling patterns; or, a “historical-reading rite”isenjoyed as the way for carrying out self-spiritual-sublimation, which can and should berefreshed everyday.So,the scholarly practices were more related to the ethical-affectional requests than to the epistemological-intelligible research.


5.2  A permanently refreshed experience in political-moral-conflicting views between fajia(法家)(A) and ren(仁)-ethics (C) in ru(儒)-historiography

A characteristic Chinese historical dialectics has been displayed in both separate and combinative ways of the two ethical-oppositional mental lines regarding their respective motives, aims and methods. (A-line vs. C-line) It requests a more delicate analysis to discern the different ways of thinking between the pure Confucian ethics (C ) and the ru(儒)-imperial morality based on A and B.The intellectual divergence not only reflects a permanent confrontation between personal ethical consciousness and collective moral power but also differentethical/tactic ways of thinking indicated at both constitutive and functional levels. With respect to Chinese historiography we can consequently go beyond the historical-natural phenomena to reach the operative planes of three different kinds of intellectual-social elements (fajia(法家),  rujia(儒家)

, Confucian; or, A, B, C) and their mutual interactions, among which the key part is displayed in that between A and C.

In the light of the above explanation we are going to discuss a special mixed criteria for thinking in historical writings. In the general ideological framework of Heaven-superstitious determinism and the deceptive, preordained logic of authoritatively ordered political power- sequence, following cultural and intellectual progress Chinese historians had developed their empirical-rational wisdom and social-scientific curiosity in their historical scholarship. The latter naturally leads to intensification for independently exploring historical truth, although, because of the general weakness of scientific impulses and owing to the distortional restriction of moral-central determinism in their historical thinking, their historiography-theoretical achievements have remained at the experiential level. If the developed historical wisdom had not been performed at really theoretical level it had been indeed realized at a very important domain about experiencing interpersonal interaction, namely specialized in observing and describing motivational-causational networks for all political conducts in actual historical transformations. Limited at this empirical level and within this restricted frame of ideological-presupposition,traditional Chinese historiography still displays the sophisticated skills and capability initsobservations, analyses and writings.

On the other hand, under the deep influence of Confucian ethical thought all excellent Chinese historians express a profound ethical-motivated attitude to searching for a double-sensed historical truth, which is related to the empirical tactic-directed causational facts and to the facts disclosing ethical-motivated intentions behind conducts. In essence they are concerned about finding two objects: the one is about the true causes/reasons of political-historical phenomena and the other about internal spiritual-ethical expressions behind those external political-military conducts. The so-called “ethical truth” as one ofobjectivesof Chinese historiography refers to the true ethical intention or certain mental state for actualizing moral justice either by their heroic self-dedication or by bravely meeting with danger or death.The ethical truthcan be disclosed throughanalyzing the external expressions of engaged people. A Confucian-ethical evaluation for heroic bravery must be a combination of the ethical faith and the related behavioral realization; it is far from being the mere physical valor and boldness and therefore Confucian political ethics even takes any violent conquers and cruel suppressions as such as one of the most serious evils in human world. Totally speaking, with a purpose to improve social-political conditions in future Chinese historians’ true interest is expressed in retrospectively examining the past in order to search for their spiritual-ethical satisfaction through exploring the double-sensed truth in their historical practices. On the other hand, ethical truth as a real mental state refers also to an existence of ethical subjectivity of the historian itself, namely a typical historian, whose identity in ancient China is reflected in two roles: the scholarly agent and social-political actor. That ethical subjectivity is expressed in strengthening or establishing the ethical-mental state internally with respect to itself. A typical historian, whose identity is different from that of a literary man or philosopher, isnaturally interested in external practices,because his historical referent isthe actual world itself containing every aspect in actual life. Eventually, he applies his history-scholarly commitment to double-directed objects: the external historical realty and the internal subjective reality. The latter has been certainly due to spiritual impact from Confucian ethics, which is realized either in ru(儒)-imperial social-cultural contexts or atthe pure Confucian-ethical plane. But Confucian political ethics remains at the purely ethical level without going so far to independently and freely think about problems of practically improving or inventing the more suitable means to better meet with their political-ethical ideals. AConfucian ethical thinkerisoriginally enwrapped into a self-contradictory state characterized by the contrast between spiritually cherishing subjective free ethical ideal and actually following the objective transmitted feudalist patterns. Because of the former, Confucian thought has become the lasting ethical inspiration that could stir the innate ethical-critical passions, which defy unfair social-cultural reality in Chinese historical reality,and because of the latter, it could be smartly absorbed by the rulers as a virtue-educating/indoctrinating tool to support the lasting despotic-political system through firstly being combined with the fajia(法家)-political-militaryinstitutions andtactics.

As an originally conceived pragmatic-directed historical scholarship, the Standard History is certainly intended to be useful for improving political security and increasing social welfares in human future. Nevertheless, because of traditional institutional and intellectual restrictions mentioned above, the historically accumulated historical knowledge can hardly be applicable for the purpose. The historical logic of ru(儒)-imperial dynasties had been mostly determined by the historically shaped despotic-political mechanism as such whose crucial shortcoming lies in its imperial-totalitarianism led by the emperor as an earthily unique “superman” or the son of Heaven, namely a self-claimed representative of the top power in the universe. Although social-political improvement is the first or final objective of ru(儒)-imperial historiography, its second objective, which is realized in investigating historical knowledge as the means or methods for attaining the first one, remains the actual one. The ru(儒)-imperial historiography teleology is essentially transformed to a scholarly research on past histories with its purely intellectual interests in experienced facts and events. Reading historical works possesses two different interconnected aspects: the fajia(法家)-lined (A) quests for causational truth and the Confucian-lined (C) quest for subjective-ethical truth. The intellectual opposition between A and C can be said to occur at two different levels: the empirical- intelligent and the ethical-motivational. Regarding the capability of doing social-political causational analyses, A is much superior to C; and regarding ethical-axiological evaluation, the ethically-justified criteria of C is directly oppositional to the expedient-utilitarian ones of A. A and C have been definitely inimical to each other in ethical sense during Chinese history. According to a ru(儒)-hermeneutics about political philosophy, the basic opposition is described as that between “tao of hegemony” (based on fajia(法家)line) and “tao of King” (based on ruxue(儒学)line) with respect to the entire political situations; while in our perspective the opposition should be defined in purely political-ethical terms.

More precisely and more comprehensively, according to this unique historical ethics of C, Chinese political historiography can be described by its three different roles: 1) as the way to enrich the causational-analytical knowledge based on A line; 2) as the way to advance self-devotional forces to serve the ru(儒)-imperial regimes, following B line; and 3) and as the way to strengthen self-ethical spirit guided by C line. The judgment about each aspect is connected with the other one in the interactive or motivational-causational network. The search for historical truth is not only expressed in getting knowledge about causational truth but also, or even especially, ingrasping the collective-directed moral truth and the individual-directedethical truth involved. The three parts in reading ru(儒)-historiography are therefore closely interacted and even overlapped to each other in the actual reading experiences.

Here we’d better distinguish the mental-ethical from the behavioral-moral planes with respect to personal expressions in our discussions about the Confucian/ru(儒)-dogmatic personality of the historian. The term morality here especially refers to the way of external behaviors in conformity with ru(儒)-imperial-ideological public norms for actualizing officially regulated proper conducts(B lined), while the former refers to the individual expressions of subjective-intentional or motivational-attitudinal states(C lined), which are the deepest concern in Confucian-ethical-directedway ofthinking. Although in concrete social and historical conducts the two aspects must be interweaved and mutually interpenetrated so as to shape naturally entire events, while at the functional level the separation between the two is discernible after our modern detailed analyses. As a matter of fact, an examination of external causational connections becomes the very conditions and means for perceiving internal ethical-intentional qualities. External moral expressions mean the faithful obedience to the official rules and orders in behaviors(B), which are not necessarily supported by subjective-spontaneous ethical origins (then the agent functions as a standard ru(儒)-official). According to Confucian ethical standard (C) the automatically triggering intentional actions are evaluated as ethically superior ones(then the agent realizes his own ren(仁)-ethical ideal). We will derive later in future studies that this ego-based immanent ethics amazingly implies a modern significance for deepening scientific-directed historical epistemology. For this ethical emphasis on subjective side is linked to a problem of real mental mechanism about how to create an ethical-directed attitudinal state in scholars’ mind. The separate reality of the mental state, once again, has nothing to do with the capability or possibility of actually realizing the scholarly objective cherished by that mental state. While on the other hand, when the related external conditions changed, the separate mental state could perhaps obtain some new ways to realize its aim. In this sense, the internal ethical-mental state or ethical subjectivity as such implies a potential for its external projection, producing actual results in the world. For example, this is just the case with Confucian ethics, the encounter of which with modern western methodology has been able to actually reenergize its dynamics in the new historical contexts.

Our clarification presented here purpose to raise that this fajia(法家)-centralist ru(儒)-system historically had little (if not nothing) to do with the genuine Confucian political-ethical thought(C), if we are able to make it strictly separated from the ru(儒)-imperial political-moral ideology(B). But, in a narrow sense, we can also say that there is indeed an organic unification between the fajia(法家)line and the rujia(儒)line realized in Han by the created ru(儒)-imperial political philosophy which especially refers to the academic-ideological body: the sets of classical texts based on historiography-productions. The ru-imperial system of classics makes the fajia(法家)as supernatural Heaven ideological tactics andtheru(儒)-schoolas historical learning unified, namely making the supernatural-threatening mechanism reified into human-historical power-lineage in order to multiply secure the stability of the ru(儒)

-imperial systems. By the way, the fajia(法家)line has been indeed both more original and more lasting tactic wisdom in Chinese long pre-history, and history or historiography for it represents the basicwisdom about politicaltechniques, which consist of alternatively using horrible violence and deceptive tricks for carrying out interpersonal subjugations since the early emergence of Chinese race being primitively socialized. Originally, primitive historical stories of any kind had been always the tool used by fajia(法家)as part of its strategic-tactic means.


5.3   Confucian ethics in Chinese historiography and its separation fromru-imperial political-ideological-moral system[9]

An additional major historical reason why the author of the Analects had been eventually and permanently chosen as the found-father of ru(儒)-imperial academic-classical system lies first of all in the objective existence of that amazing textitself. While based on this textual fact a lot of related manipulations based on the mixed and confusing existence of different elements had become the true activating factors for shaping this successful ru(儒)

-ideological creation in Chinese history. The main roles of the Analects can be summarized here:


-        the text contains the strong ethical-inspiring thought based on empirical human nature and therefore can become the natural source for being accepted extensively; accordingly the honor assigned to its author must be effectively convincing;

-        the commonly shared historical context and its materials presents a false appearance about the same intellectual positions adopted by Confucius and the despotic rulers with an intentional neglect of the fact that the same contexts and materials could be used by people with different or oppositional ethical positions;

some one-character words used in the Analects can be misused by ru(儒)

-academic-ideologists as equivalents to the indications of ru(儒)

-classics made much later by the same trick that those one-characters also appear in the titles and texts in the ru(儒)-classics, although the meanings of the same characters (like: shi[poetry], shu [book] ) have different referents in different historical, intellectual and even linguistic contexts. It is the polysemous feature of those single-characters presents the means for such academic-ideological distortions and manipulations.

ru(儒)-imperial regimes indeed employ the virtue-training part in the Analects honestly at the education-technical level. It’s interesting to note that Confucian also employ historical Zhou-Li (周礼)material at a practical-technical level, making them being guided by a different ethical direction; reversely, ru(儒)-imperial traditions employ Confucius’ virtue-training wisdom also at technical level, making them finally serve the imperial benefits.

In consideration of the genuine constitution of the system of Chinese ru(儒)

-empires we’d better to be cautious of the historical-legendary sayings about various pre-Qin historical stories. Because of the above analysis we see a historical and international conceptual confusion regarding the role of the legendary person Confucius have influenced our proper judgments of Confucian ethics on one hand and ru(儒)-imperial academia and social-political system on the other. In spite of the common historical-cultural elements shared by Confucian thought, different other schools of thoughts and social forces in ancient China, Confucian thought is indicative of historically unique features that are expressed in not only its earthly humanist-central-oriented ethics but also in its thematic focus or essential restriction on the ethical-motivational practices. Various topics concerning political, social, supernatural and cultural items play merely the role as the material or media used to signify subjective ethical topics regarding proper ways to do correct ethical choices in face with hundreds of typical binary- oppositional-choosing situations. As the apparently unsystematic textual body consisting of a number of ethical proverbs the Analects amazingly shows a pragmatic-logical system including implicitly consistent and coherent connections in the fragmentarily presented network of ethical orders anonymously collected and orally issued by a legendary person named Confucius. A characteristic significance of the ethical system has been indicated by its almost universal and continuous attractions to and extremely willing acceptance by the rulers and literati of all ru(儒)-dynasties, including those who originally came from outside China proper, although all of such textual acceptance could be finished by the unconsciously arbitrary-selective or fragmentary-combinative ways. That means the intellectual attractions and pragmatic efficiency of Confucian ethics have been long historically tested even after the end of the lasting ru(儒)-imperial history. The essential reason about this cross-cultural universal acceptance is due to its empirical-humanist ethical epistemology naturally suitable for or relevant to all human beings regardless of all supernatural backgrounds caused by different histories.


Reading of texts of the Analects can be performed in different selective ways, which, with different textual groups of the book, present different textual-reading autonomies. The life of the Analects is embodied in various levels of self-consistent intelligibility of different sentential connections. And the spiritual independent existence of Confucian ethics is also based on its various sub-sections with textual self-consistence. It is this feature of comprehensive textual consistence that has guaranteed not only the validness of its ethical logic but also its entire historical existence. Despite this amazing feature historical Chinese literati and even modern intellectuals can hardly reach the sufficient extent of a self-consistent reading of entire textual body because of the lack of the requested modern epistemological-theoretical conditions, which strangely become available only owing to the emergence of new knowledge of semiotic-hermeneutic methodology originally come from the West.

On the other hand, the historically effective value of the Analects should be divided into two parts: the one as the constituent part of ru(儒)-imperial system(B)and the other as the independent ethical system concerning the evergreen justification of its mundane humanist-directed, subjective-motivational-central ethical principles and wisdom(C). The latter part is certainly more determinative with respect to its theoretical and pragmatic efficiency in entire history. The secret of the phenomena lies merely in that its ethical topics are mostly related to basic interpersonal-attitudinal relationship and to the states appearing on psychological-motivational plane without logically reaching practical dimensions. As far as mankind concerned, these two have been always unchanged despite constant evolutions of historical processes across even different social-cultural traditions.

As an attitudinal ethics, Confucian ethical idealism has been also mainly displayed, in different insufficient extents, at the motivational-attitudinal plane shown in intellectual works, including the philosophical, historiographic, literary, artistic and even martial-artistic ones. This historical-shaped original intelligent restriction can be more deeply traced back to both the then historical-cultural level and the national-characteristic weaker tendency for scientific-logical reasoning that had caused the delayed developments of Chinese natural and social scientific activities in past history. On the other hand, this national intelligent-mental limitation could help make the Confucian thought historically maintain its actual and functional independent existence as a result that an intellectual flexibility in making it interact with various social-and-academic rational practices, in both positive and negative ways. It is this apparently passive feature that has been also beneficial to preserve its self-persisting and self-operative intellectual potentials. As a result, the content of original Confucian ethics completely preserved in the text of the Analects has been safely and entirely transmitted to the successive generations until today, playing its same kind of spiritual roles in different historical-cultural contexts.

From the existence of this subjective-ethical autonomy realized in fixed text derived a special learning about ethical-volition-formative technique, that can be either imminently linked to the intellectual-spiritual planes, for the aim of ethical self-completion, or social-practically linked to the despotic-political programs, for the aim of realizing officially assigned tasks and imperially given honors. With whatever reasons the former can always find the chance for literati to pursue its internal-directed independent goal whose expressions are about a strong desire and firm will directed to the search for philosophical, political, historical and artistic “truths” in their implicitly independent spiritual life. Yes, if the notion about truth so indistinctly conceived can hardly automatically lead to any scientifically feasible pursuits, it can still effectively function as the meaningful target at the mental-attitudinal plane that can help keep the volition-formative mechanism to separately persist or to the mere literary expressions preserved for subsequent generations. As a result, an independently existing ethical attitude supported by the volitional mechanism towards truths becomes the clearly discernable psychological phenomenon, perhaps through poetical works, in Chinese intellectual history. Let’s be clear here once again that what we focus onhereis not the truth as such, which is so unclearly conceivedin ancient times, but is the truth-referred attitudinal direction and volitionas such. Perhaps, the imprecise or confusing feature of the word “truth”, whose traditional equivalents present different modes, dialectically shows an epistemological merit, namely helping maintain the independent existence of the ethical objective in historical mentality. This separately existing ethical attitude expressed and tested in Chinese intellectual history, in different modes, has formed an implicitly everlasting spiritual worth and strength with respect to the expanded human perspective. And most frequently ethical psychology of this type has been displayed in literary and historiography-creations in history with different modes caused by various external conditions. In this sense we can state that regarding historiography-practices this ethical attitude is directed to something similar also to a “historical truth” in its scientific and ethical modes. This blurry notion of historical truth or reality can either refer to the part of ethical subject itself or the true ego that is able to make correct decisions about subjective-ethical attitudes concerning concrete situations, or to the proper objective-rational judgments about historical realities. In other words, the historical truth can refer to both the subjective and objective objects, or to both internal ethical ego and different external true realities.

In conclusion, let’s emphasize once again that the doubly polyphonic existence of Confucian ethics and ru(儒)-imperial ideology within the ru(儒)

-despotic social-political systems in history had led to the implicit split of intellectuals’ personality: as the ethical believer in or sincere reader of the Analects and as the pious believer in or sincere reader of the ru-imperial classics and careerist of the ru(儒)-imperial vocations. Therefore, Confucius thought plays a double role in the formation of Chinese historiography. It is due to our semiotic-hermeneutic perspective, which is unfortunately unable to be discussed infurtherdetails here, people can find this separation appearing in a functional way. Why do we emphasize this implicit separation of the two intellectual systems and accordingly another associated separation between the ren(仁)-ethical inspiration at the psychological level (C) and the moral-directed ru(儒)-social-political practices at the behavioral level(B)with respect to our present discussion of historical scholarship? Because the different types of two systems, the Confucian ethical text (C) and the ru(儒)-imperial hard-and-soft mechanisms (A, B, C), keep their respective independent stimulating functions. The Confucian ethics embodied in the self-coherent textual body amounts to an inspiring source to exercise the consistent ethical effects on individual’s mind and soul. Because of the lasting separate existence of the textual body in history the Analects has actually kept a holistic influence on minds at the psychological level although practically this influence is mixed together with the double-constitutive ru(儒)-imperial mechanism, including both its textual and social aspects. In fact the both exist in a polyphonic or overlapping way in mental-practicallysynthetic processes. The doubly-mixed lines of thinking and conducts can indicate their separate effects aroused by the classics-reading, such as the intensified sincere feeling about loyalty to ru(儒)-imperial social-political-directed dogmatic system and reversely about the critical attitudes and disappointed emotions aroused by the negative manifestations of that social-political system.

TheAnalectswith its universal humanism doesn’t necessarily function in combination with certain actual social systems and practices: its ethical-logical system and its historical existence can be separated in our semiotic-hermeneutic perspective. The subjective attitudinal-emotional ethics can separately function at the basic-elemental ethical level, playing a pragmatic-logically self-consistent guiding role regarding ethical-subject’s mentality and behavioral decisions. The characteristic subjective-pragmatist autonomy of the original Confucian ethics itself, rather than its actual-historically realized way,does not really include the part concerning external practical aspects and therefore is able to befreelycombined with other social programs as well.






(authors note: this paper is prepared in an interdisciplinary-cross-cultural approaches, involving numbers of Chinese and Western literature. Considering the space limitation the author uses almost no quotations from related works in this paper. For anyone taking an interest in the detailed reference sources of the author’s research please check up the different reference parts given in his monographic works listed here. )


Aron, Raymond. La Philosophie critique de l’histoire, Julliard, Paris, 1987

Bourdé, Guy and Martin, Hervé. Les écoles historiques. Seuil, Paris, 1997

Carrad, Philippe, Poetics of the New History. John Hopkins Uni. Press, Baltimore,1992

Certeau, Michel. The Writing of History. Columbia University Press, NY,1988

Chartier, Roger. On the Edge of the Cliff. John Hopkins Uni. Press, Baltimore, 1997

Coutao-Bégarie, Hervé,Le Phénomene Nouvelle Histoire: Grandeur et decadence de l’ecole des Annales. Economica, Paris,1989

Fukuyama, Francis. The End of History and the Last Man. Avon, NY.1993

Ginzburg, Carlo. The Judge and the Historian. Verso, NY.1999

Gu, Jiegang(Ku,Chieh-kang.顾颉刚) et al. 古史辨(Reflections on Ancient Chinese History),7 volumes. Shanghaiguji publisher, Shanghai 1982

Gu, Jiegang(顾颉刚)。中国上古史研究讲义(Investigations of Chinese ancient history-lecture series). Zhonghuashuju publisher, Beijing, 1999

Legge, James, The Chinese Classics, 4 volumes, natianshuj publisher, Taipei, 1991

Liang, Qichao(梁启超)。中国历史研究法(Methodology of Ancient Chinese History),lirenshuju publisher, Taipei 1984

Le Goff, Jacques. Histoire et mémoire, Folio, Paris, 1988

Le Goff, Jacques and Nora, Pierre, Faire de l’histoire. Folio, Paris

Li, Youzheng(李幼蒸)

  1993,理论符号学导论(An Introduction to Theoretical Semiotics), Chinese Publisher of Social Sciences, Beijing

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  1997, Epistemological Problems of the Comparative Humanities, Peter Lang, Frankfurt

  2003, 历史符号学(Semiotics and History), Guangxi Normal University Press, Beijing

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[1]As this author pointed out long time ago, “……many of the major academic and intellectual conflicts in Chinese cultural history should be reformulated in a more rational conceptual framework.” In Shu-hsien Liu & Robert E.Allinson,Harmony and Strife, The Chinese University Press, HK. 1988,p.311.

[2]Regarding the difficulty of formatting a “total history” frequently raised by western historians this author especially refers to the efforts made by the French Annales school. Refer to: Youzheng Li, “Semiotics and ancient history”, Semiotica,Vol.172-1/4, 2008, pp.339-360.Also Coutau-Begarie, 1989(0.vii); Le Goff & Nora, 1974 (p.14)..

[3]The term “history” has been traditionally mixedly used for representing either “historical process” or “ historical writings”. The reason for distinguishing the both lies in the huge gap between them with respect to representativeness of the latter. Following rapid progress of human knowledge and technology since the 20th century the apparatus of “historical recording” has been greatly advanced as a result that the new typology of contemporary historiography raises in fact a new epistemological challenge to the status quo of our current total-historical theory. See Youzheng Li, “Distinguishing Reality from Discourse in Chinese historiography”, in The American Journal of Semiotics, vol.23-1-4, 2007. Pp.45-53.

[4]Regarding the complicated relationship between historical writings and a variety of superstitious faiths please refer to Gu Jiegang(顾颉刚),the greatest historian in modern China, zhongguo-shanggushi-yanjiujiangyi( The Investigation of remote ancient Chinese history), zhonghuashuju(中华书局),Beijing, 1999(originally 1930).

[5]Regarding the relationship between  the process of Chinese empires and the establishment of ancient Chinese historiography there are a number of reference books and documents. The author still strongly recommends a authoritative standard introduction,written by Liang Qi-chao(梁启超),zhongguolishyanjiufa(A Methodology of Chinese History),Lirenshujiu(里仁书局) Publisher,Taipei, 1984(originally 1922 ).

[6]As for the “true” Confucian thought we can only rely on the Analects (regardless some fictive parts created and distorted by others in the book). Its basic philosophical line is contrary to the ru-totalitarian political philosophy based on the anti- Confucian thoughts. Please refer to James Legge, The Chinese Classics, Vol.1, natianshuju(南天书局) publisher,Taipei, 1991.

[7]For further understanding the topics mentioned here please refer to Youzheng Li, “on modern usage of the traditional Chinese characters”, in his ruxuejieshixue(儒学解释学),vol.1, the Chinese Renmin Publisher, Beijing,2009, pp.219-222.

[8]About the relationship between ruxue(儒学) and Chinese historiography an authoritative modern reference books is the 7-volume series Gushibian(古史辨), edited by Gu Jiegang (顾颉刚)and others. Zhonghuashujue publisher, Beijing, 1982(originally from 1923 to 1940)。It is a pity that the epistemological level attainted in this book series can never be followed by all other Chinese and Sinologic historical theories since then.

[9]A prevailing confusion between the original Confucian humanist ethics and theru-feudalist imperial morality has been continued till today. Only a semiotic-semiotic analysis could help clarify the differences. For this please refer to Youzheng Li’sThe Constitution of Han-Academic Ideology, Peter Lang, Frankfurt, 1997, especially the “introduction: Ethics and Academic Ideology”, pp.1-8.