Authority and Welfare in China: Modern Debates in Historical by Michael Twohey (auth.)

By Michael Twohey (auth.)

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Extra resources for Authority and Welfare in China: Modern Debates in Historical Perspective

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244). 6 XUNZI'S INFLUENCE ON CHINESE HISTORY AND POLITICS The unification of China as an empire in 221 BC provided justification for Xunzi's philosophy, and, paradoxically, marked the beginning of its subordination to the Lunyu and the Mencius. A number of reasons could be cited for this but two appear to stand out as most relevant. One relates to the first emperor himself, Qin Shihuangdi, whose methods of ruling, for centuries condemned as severe, were influenced by Xunzi's teachings. Two of Xunzi's students, Han Feizi and Li Si, who were the founders of China's Legalist school of philosophy, acted as advisers to the first emperor.

117). If wealth were not redistributed, according to Xunzi, if the lower classes were relegated Xzmzi and Ancient Chinese Authority 23 to a state of poverty, then they would not be able to contribute to the state surplus. The state would not only become poorer but the ruler would lose his legitimacy to rule (Xzmzi, Vol. 2, pp. 121-2). Yet Xunzi did not believe that relations between the classes would on their own be so harmonious as to ensure that adequate food, goods and wealth got to all parts of the kingdom.

Among these applications, six stand out most clearly. Foremost among them was Xunzi's belief that Ii could constrain man's desires once it was explained to the people that the state must be in charge of apportioning food and goods to everyone when resources were scarce. Once this was understood, the regulatory principles of Ii could also be set in motion to maintain order, to strengthen the state, to enrich the state, to redistribute the wealth of 28 Ancient Authority and Welfare the state and to transform the people to a higher standard of ethical and civil behaviour.

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