The Spring and Autumn Annals examines the principles of things and rectifies their names. It applies names to things as they really are…
To Rectify the Names
Topic: Society & Civil Religion
“The Spring and Autumn Annals examines the principles of things and rectifies their names. It applies names to things as they really are… Such is the care of the Sage to rectify names, he said, “With regard to his speech, the superior man does not take it lightly.”“
Tung Chung-shu (179-104 BCE) was a Chinese philosopher and scholar who played a major role in the development of Confucianism. He was born in Guangchuan, China, and was educated in the Confucian classics. He entered the imperial service during the reign of the Emperor Jing of Han and rose to high office under the Emperor Wu of Han.
Tung was a strong advocate of Confucianism, and he argued that it should be the official ideology of the Chinese state. In 136 BCE, his arguments were successful, and Confucianism became the official state religion of China.
Tung's most important work was the Luxuriant Dew of the Spring and Autumn Annals, a collection of essays on Confucian philosophy and political theory. In this work, Tung developed a comprehensive theory of the universe, society, and government. He argued that the universe is governed by the principle of tianming, or the Mandate of Heaven. This mandate is bestowed on those who rule in accordance with the will of Heaven. If a ruler fails to rule in accordance with the will of Heaven, he will lose the mandate and be overthrown.
Tung also argued that the ideal society is one that is based on the principles of ren (humanity) and li (ritual). Ren is the love of all people, and li is the proper conduct of oneself in society. A society based on these principles will be harmonious and prosperous.
Tung Chung-shu's ideas had a profound influence on Chinese society and government for centuries. His work helped to shape the development of Confucianism into the dominant ideology of China. His ideas are still studied and debated today.
Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn Annals
Chan, Wing-Tsit. A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton University Press, 1969, [Tung Chung-Shu, Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn Annals].
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