A Brief History of Chinese Philosophy
Found in Andrew Sheng's review of "the latest book by Yi Zhongtian, arguably the most popular narrator of Chinese philosophy of this generation" — Yi Zhongtian, Western free market and Chinese state capitalism. Here it is:
- The Stone of My Hill is a conversational but important narrative of how the pre-Qin philosophers, the Taoist, Confucius, Mozi and the Legalist schools of thought competed to explain the chaos of the Warring States (480-221 BC) period and what solutions they brought to bear to save the times.
Of course, the Taoist felt that the whole system was wrong and that after chaos, things would return to their natural order.
Being a conservative, Confucius felt that things should return to the old Zhou feudalistic order, where people respected their social rituals and respective place in society.
Mozi was the most daring, asking for a socialist society of equals.
All these three schools were rejected by the political elite, who were grabbing power from the dying Zhou empire and readily adopted the Legalist philosophy, which advocated the realpolitik idea of the concentration of power to final unification under the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).
But by being ruthlessly successful as the Qin Dynasty was cruel, the Legalist school was rejected as immoral for adoption by popular sentiment.
It is the irony of history that Confucian philosophy was not successful in its time, but was adopted as the basic moral foundation of Chinese culture, whereas Chinese officialdom has practiced Legalism.