Ancient China in Context
The Emergence of China
From Confucius to the Empire

E Bruce Brooks and A Taeko Brooks

 

The Emergence of ChinaThe first to be issued of the volumes planned for this series, Emergence gives a brief overview of the Chinese classical period (the 05th through the 03rd centuries), its antecedents in earlier times, and its final result: the establishment of the Chinese unified Empire under the Chin Dynasty. Of the surveys currently available, this one has several unique features.

The Emergence of China presents the classical period in its own terms. It contains more than 500 translated excerpts from the classical texts, linked by a running commentary which traces the evolution and interaction of the different schools of thought. These are shown in dialogue about issues from tax policy to the length of the mourning period for a parent. Some texts labor to construct the legal and political edifice of the new state, while others passionately oppose its war orientation, or amusingly ridicule those who supported it. Here are the arguments of the Hundred Schools of classical thought, for the first time restored to life and vividly presented.

Readers who are already familiar with the most popular of these writings (the Analects of Confucius, the speeches of Mencius, the cryptic pronouncements of Laudz, or the flights of fantasy in the Jwangdz, not to mention the Art of War of Master Sun) will find many of them here, but illuminated by being seen against their contemporary background of hardship and conflict. The contributions of India, Greece, and the Ancient Near East to the creation of the distinctive Chinese culture are mentioned, as are those of the several non-Sinitic peoples who were largely displaced or absorbed in the Sinitic expansion.

There are six topical chapters, each treating a major subject in chronological order, framed by a preliminary background chapter and a concluding survey of the eventual Empire. Each chapter includes several brief Methodological Moments, as samples of the philological method on which the work is based. Occasional footnotes point to historical parallels in Greece, Rome, the Ancient Near East, and the mediaeval-to-modern transition in Europe, which at many points the Chinese classical period resembles. At the back of the book are a guide to alternate Chinese romanizations, a list of passages translated, and a subject index.

A preliminary version of The Emergence of China was classroom-tested, and the suggestions of teachers and students were incorporated into the final version. The results of those classroom trials, in both history and philosophy classes, were favorable:

See Comments from Readers and Classroom Teachers

See the complerte Table of Contents

This is the only account of early Chinese thought which presents it against the background of the momentous changes taking place in the early Chinese state, and the only account of the early Chinese state which follows its development, by correctly dated documents, from its beginnings in the palace states of Spring and Autumn to the economically sophisticated bureaucracies of late Warring States times. In this larger context, the insights of the philosophers remain, but their failure to influence events is also noted. The fun of the Jwangdz is transmitted, but along with its underlying pain. The achievements of the Chinese Imperial formation process are duly registered, but so is their human cost. Special attention is given to the contribution of non-Chinese peoples to the eventual Chinese civilization.

Those wishing to follow a major philosophy in more detail through the Warring States centuries may consult other works in this series, among them the Dauists, in Quiet Ways, the military experts in Arts of War, and the late Confucians in Mencius.

Subject Categories: Chinese History, Chinese Philosophy
ECCN: Pending

E BRUCE BROOKS is Research Professor of Chinese, and A TAEKO BROOKS is Research Associate, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


The Emergence of China: From Confucius to the Empire
256 pages, 10 illus, 4 maps, 6 x 9"
$47.95 HB, ISBN 978-1-936166-35-0
$24.95 PB, ISBN 978-1-936166-75-6
$23.95 Ebook, ISBN 978-1-936166-95-4
Tentative Release Date: December 2014

 

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