The Classic of Documents and the Origins of Chinese Political Philosophy

The Classic of Documents and the Origins of Chinese Political Philosophy

The Classic of Documents and the Origins of Chinese Political Philosophy:

An Oxford-Princeton Research Collaboration
21-22 March 2014: The Queen’s College, University of Oxford

While current Chinese political discourse is replete with references to the political and philosophical discourse of Chinese antiquity, the focus remains on Confucius (551-479 BCE) and the political thinkers who followed him over the next three centuries. The one text, however, that consistently served as a reference to  these thinkers, the Shangshu, which contains a series of royal speeches attributed to the emperors of high antiquity, dating  from the first millennium BCE, with its early parts likely to go back to the 10th century BCE, remains woefully understudied. Within the Chinese tradition, these speeches are of central importance as the earliest formulations of the concept of kingship and the “Mandate of Heaven”; they emphasize the common people as the source of their ruler’s legitimation, they discuss just war and legitimate regicide, and they debate issues of loyalty and dynastic succession and consider the terms of interstate relations. Yet to this day there has been no systematic study in any European language of these speeches. As part of an Oxford-Princeton research partnership, a conference on the Classic of Documents is being held at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford on Friday and Saturday, 21-22 March 2014. This is the second of a series of conferences devoted to the study of the Shangshu in which a new interdisciplinary approach to one of the core texts of the classical Chinese philosophical, historical, and political tradition will be explored.

Further details of the conference are available at: http://www.orinst.ox.ac.uk/conferences/shangshu/index.html