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Conquer and Govern

Conquer and Govern: Early Chinese Military Texts from the Yi Zhou shu

Robin McNeal
Copyright Date: 2012
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    Conquer and Govern
    Book Description:

    China's Warring States era (ca. 5th-3rd century BCE) was the setting for an explosion of textual production, and one of the most sophisticated and enduring genres of writing from this period was the military text. Social and political changes were driven in large part by the increasing scope and scale of warfare, and some of the best minds of the day (including Sunzi, whoseArt of Waris still widely read) devoted their attention to the systematic analysis of all factors involved in waging war.Conquer and Governmakes available for the first time in any Western language a corpus of military texts from a long neglected Warring States compendium of historical, political, military, and ritual writings known as theYi Zhou shu,or Remainder of the Zhou Documents.The texts articulate concretely and vividly the relationship between military conquest of an enemy and incorporation of conquered territories into one's civilian government, expressed dynamically through the paired Chinese concept of wen and wu, the civil and the martial. Exploring this conceptual dyad as it evolved across the Warring States era into the early Western Han (ca. 2nd-1st century BCE) provides an alternative view of the social and intellectual history of classical China-one based not primarily on philosophical works but on a complex array of ideological writings concerned with the just, effective, and appropriate use of state power. In addition, this study presents a careful reconstruction of the poetic structure of these texts; analyzes their place in the broader discourse on warfare and governance in early China; introduces the many text historical problems of theYi Zhou shuitself; and offers a synthetic analysis of early Chinese thinking about warfare, strategy, and the early state's use of coercive power.Conquer and Governwill find a ready audience among specialists and students of Chinese philosophy and history, particularly those interested in the history of military thought and practice, and comparative philosophy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6581-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    The sentiments expressed in this brief passage, which opens a manuscript found in 1973 in a tomb near Changsha, Hunan, in central China, may strike many readers familiar with early Chinese thought as somehow atypical of that time and place.² This impression could not be more wrong. It grows out of a vision of early Chinese intellectual history that has been overdetermined by late imperial ideology and a particular strain of Confucianism. This vision of early China’s philosophical legacy needs little elaboration here, for in its outline form it is both eminently recognizable and obviously anachronistic. The standard line goes...

  5. Part I Use the Martial to Dispel Calamity and the Civil to Bring Order

    • 1 Conquer and Govern: Wen and Wu as a Conceptual Pair in Classical Chinese Thought
      (pp. 13-39)

      The Zhou conquest over the Shang dynasty is arguably the single most important historical event portrayed in classical and preclassical Chinese texts. It was seen as the historical moment that created the Zhou political, social, and moral order, and thus in its details could be found all the lessons needed for rulership and sagehood. This single event came to be understood as both an act of war and the cessation of all strife, the bloody overthrow of a corrupt ruling house coupled with the establishment of a civil administration that settled the known world and bestowed benevolent government on the...

    • 2 Righteous Warfare: Laying Siege to an Enemy in Disorder
      (pp. 40-70)

      In our examination of early conceptions of the civil and martial spheres of state activity, we have seen that by late in the third century BCE, roughly coinciding with the establishment of unified empire, some thinkers imagined bringing the human, political order into harmony with the natural order, taking the patterns of growth and decline apparent in the progression of the seasons as the model for granting rewards or inflicting punishments. In this framework, warfare was seen as homologous with punitive measures taken against criminals, differing only in scale. As we will see, the two kinds of actions were sometimes...

  6. Part II Military Chapters of the Yi Zhou shu

    • 3 Introduction to the Yi Zhou shu: Its Transmission and Reception
      (pp. 73-96)

      Part I of this study demonstrated that military power and its relationship to legitimate civil rule were topics of particular interest to intellectuals and statesmen from the fourth through first centuries BCE. Contrary to some long-standing characterizations of early Chinese thought as pacifist, there was a sophisticated and broadly based discourse during these centuries on the nature of warfare, its cosmological and moral underpinnings, its role in history, and its importance to the stability of the state. This discourse developed alongside a more technical discourse on such topics as mobilization, weaponry, defensive strategies, and deploy ment of formations, some of...

    • 4 Translation and Study of the Military Chapters of the Yi Zhou shu
      (pp. 97-135)

      We turn now to chapters 6 through 10 of theYi Zhou shu.We will find that they present a vivid description of how the civil and martial arms of the state work in concert with one another, first to lay siege to an enemy territory, then to settle the newly conquered region and govern it as one’s own. We will also find that while they are clearly a part of the broad genre of military texts, in many ways they are different from any early military text we have seen before. It is therefore necessary to do all we...

    • 5 Dating and Language of the Military Chapters of the Yi Zhou shu
      (pp. 136-160)

      The preface to theYi Zhou shutells us that chapters 6 through 10 were composed during the reign of King Wen, in the decades leading up to the Zhou conquest of the Shang. We cannot be sure what the intentions of the compilers of the seventy-one-chapterYi Zhou shuwere when they laid out the work as we have it now, nor can we know whether they meant to imply the same narrative structure as we find in the preface. The earliest possible date of the preface itself is at precisely this moment, when the various texts now collected...

  7. Appendix Two Additional Military Chapters from the Yi Zhou shu
    (pp. 161-168)
  8. Notes
    (pp. 169-230)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 231-242)
  10. Index
    (pp. 243-246)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 247-249)