Thursday, April 15

Quiz 2 in class today, covering readings 4.4-4.5.

Reading: Yin-Yang Five-Forces Theory During the HanThe Arts of the Fangshi, Huang-Lao Ideology

Although the Han Dynasty came to be known as a Confucian period, we have already seen that it was, in structure, Legalist, and it is also the case that it was a period rich in alternative forms of philosophy and belief.  Early in the Han, Legalism remained a potent force (as we might expect in the state that had inherited and preserved the major thrust of Legalist Qin institutions), and during the reigns of Wen-di and Jing-di, Legalist thought acted as one component of a complex "syncretist" ideology, known as Huang-Lao, which came to be a de facto structure for court approaches to governance.

Your readings give you glimpses of three aspects of early Han thought.  It is important to stress that these did not die out when Confucianism was established in 135 -- they all continued to provide important contributions to philosophical and religious structures, although in transformed ways (ultimately, the fangshi arts about which you will read, along with elements of yin-yang/five-forces and Huang-Lao thought contribute towards the formation of later Daoist religious traditions, which first flower during the second century A.D.).

Because the yin-yang/five-forces material should resonate with materials you have already studied on Warring States "Naturalism," and because the fangshi material is fun and easy to absorb, we'll devote a good deal of class time to discussion of the Huang-Lao chapter and the texts translated there.  The best way to think through these materials in preparation would be to read the Huang-Lao section in light of the first two study questions on page 13.