The ancient idea of the “people as root”, which experienced a revival in China starting from the early twentieth century, is usually related to the philosophy of Confucius (551-479 bce) and Mengzi (c. 379-304 bce). Contrary to the traditional reading, which perceives the manifestation of virtues that benefit the people as the key to genuine leadership, this paper aims to stress the rhetorical use of the expression “people as root” and mainly focuses on the “Great Command, Part I” and “Great Command, Part II” of the New Writings, a collection of texts ascribed to the Former Han empire (202 bce - 9 ce) scholar Jia Yi (200-168 bce). Its appeal to “the people” is due to its “emotive connotation” rather than signifying a concrete set of people-oriented policies and the “people as root” easily became a rhetorical device. The “people as root” is part of the political phraseology of Jia Yi and is strongly influenced by statesmen such as Shang Yang (d. 338), Shen Buhai (d. 337) and Han Feizi (d. 233). According to Jia Yi, the people - the grassroots of the empire - are potentially dangerous and must be controlled.

‘People as root’ (min ben) Rhetoric in the New Writings by Jia Yi (200-168) / Sabattini E. - In: EXTRÊME ORIENT EXTRÊME OCCIDENT. - ISSN 0754-5010. - 34:(2012), pp. 167-193.

‘People as root’ (min ben) Rhetoric in the New Writings by Jia Yi (200-168)

LEVI SABATTINI, Elisa
2012

Abstract

The ancient idea of the “people as root”, which experienced a revival in China starting from the early twentieth century, is usually related to the philosophy of Confucius (551-479 bce) and Mengzi (c. 379-304 bce). Contrary to the traditional reading, which perceives the manifestation of virtues that benefit the people as the key to genuine leadership, this paper aims to stress the rhetorical use of the expression “people as root” and mainly focuses on the “Great Command, Part I” and “Great Command, Part II” of the New Writings, a collection of texts ascribed to the Former Han empire (202 bce - 9 ce) scholar Jia Yi (200-168 bce). Its appeal to “the people” is due to its “emotive connotation” rather than signifying a concrete set of people-oriented policies and the “people as root” easily became a rhetorical device. The “people as root” is part of the political phraseology of Jia Yi and is strongly influenced by statesmen such as Shang Yang (d. 338), Shen Buhai (d. 337) and Han Feizi (d. 233). According to Jia Yi, the people - the grassroots of the empire - are potentially dangerous and must be controlled.
‘People as root’ (min ben) Rhetoric in the New Writings by Jia Yi (200-168) / Sabattini E. - In: EXTRÊME ORIENT EXTRÊME OCCIDENT. - ISSN 0754-5010. - 34:(2012), pp. 167-193.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11388/48267
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