The Documents Classic as Guide to Political Philosophy in the Early Empires

Journal of Chinese Philosophy 48 (1):40-55 (2021)
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Abstract

This essay provides an overview of the prescriptions advanced by the Han-era Documents classic, since it was indisputably the Documents that served as the chief guide to political philosophy in the early empires for members of the elite with the requisite high cultural learning. It presents the authoritative pronouncements of the Documents on a number of key issues, such as, Who has the legitimacy to rule? How shall the good ruler and his officials act to retain legitimacy? What is the best form of government? How are punishments to be applied? How are taxes and tribute, domestic and foreign policy, to be administered? It prescribes actions to further the virtues of foresightedness, compassion, and fairness.

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