Debating War in Chinese History by Peter Lorge

By Peter Lorge

Chinese language rulers and statesmen have been evidently focused on the problem of warfare, whilst to salary it, whilst it used to be justified, and while to prevent it. even supposing a lot has been asserted approximately how those matters have been understood in chinese language tradition, this paintings is the 1st research truly to target the debates themselves. those debates at court docket proceeded from particular understandings of what constituted facts, and concerned the sensible matters of coverage in addition to extra basic cultural values. the result's a decidedly messy portrait of chinese language choice making over millenia that's neither notably chinese language nor solely generic.
Contributors are Parks Coble, Garret Olberding, David Pong, Kenneth Swope, Paul Van Els, David Wright, and Shu-Hui Wu.

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These practices, repeatedly mentioned on the bamboo strips, indicate that Master Wen is profoundly inspired by The Old Master, in which such concepts also play a vital role. In fact, the disentombed Master Wen fragments contain numerous textual references to The Old Master. Take, for example, this bamboo strip: earth is a large vessel that cannot be held on to and cannot be acted on. Whoever tries to act on it will be ruined. Whoever tries to hold on to it will be lost 地大器也,不可執,不可為。為者敗,執者失32 This alludes to the following line in The Old Master: The world is a sacred vessel that cannot be acted on.

48 Karen Turner, “War, Punishment, and the Law of Nature in Early Chinese Concepts of the State,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 53, no. 2 (1993): 291.  297, 300. 50 Texts that discuss righteous warfare at length include The Annals of Lü Buwei, Master Xun 荀子, and The Master of Huainan 淮南子. ”53 It seems to me that The Four Canons and Master Wen feed into this larger debate on warfare by introducing a useful tool which they probably borrowed from a military–strategic context. With this one tool, they attain several goals.

This is not the Way. Actions that correspond to the Way are marked by inevitability. Since they are marked by inevitability, they are limitless. Therefore, to … is to expand, and to prohibit is to force. That is why one may carry it out everywhere without cease.  61. ON CLASSIFICATIONS OF WARFARE IN EARLY CHINESE TEXTS 23 也,即兼始逆矣。非道也。道之行也,由不得已。由不得已,則无 窮。故□者,摭者也;禁者,使者也。是以方行不留。《本伐》■22 This passage describes three motives for going to war. Regrettably, unclear syntax and illegible graphs impede a full understanding of these motives.

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