Guanzi

This article is about the ancient Chinese text. For its traditional author, see Guan Zhong.The Guanzi (Chinese: 管子) is an ancient Chinese political and philosophical text that is named for and traditionally attributed to the 7th century BCE statesman Guan Zhong, who served as Prime Minister to Duke Huan of Qi. At over 135,000 characters long, the Guanzi is one of the longest early Chinese philosophical texts. The Han Dynasty scholar Liu Xiang edited the received Guanzi text circa 26 BCE. It contains a wide variety of material from many different authors over several successive centuries, largely associated with the 4th century BCE Jixia Academy in the Qi capital of Linzi, but it might not have been compiled until after the Han Feizi.The Ming dynasty agricultural scientist Xu Guangqi frequently cited the Guanzi and the Xunzi.
Content
As is typical of an ancient Chinese text, the organization of the Guanzi has been altered over time, both the chronology and significance of which isn’t all that clear. Covering a wide variety of subjects, ranging from detailed economic discussions to overviews of local soil topography, many chapters include Confucian values as a necessity for the state, expressing a blend of what may be considered Legalistic, Confucian, and Daoistic philosophy that has been termed “Huang-Lao”. The first reference to the collection appears in the more Taostic Huainanzi, of the early Han dynasty, and Han bibliographies listed the text as Taoist. For example, the Neiye (“Inner Enterprise/Training”) chapter has some of the oldest recorded descriptions of Daoist meditation techniques.When you enlarge your mind and let go of it,
When you relax your [qi 氣] vital breath and expand it,
When your body is calm and unmoving:
And you can maintain the One and discard the myriad disturbances.
You will see profit and not be enticed by it,
You will see harm and not be frightened by it.
Relaxed and unwound, yet acutely sensitive,
In solitude you delight in your own person.
This is called “revolving the vital breath”:
Your thoughts and deeds seem heavenly. (24, tr. Roth 1999:92)It was classed as Legalist after the Sui dynasty (581-617). Most chapters of the text deal with government and the art of rulership. Considering their tone generally less strident than in the classic Legalist work, the Book of Lord Shang (Shang jun shu 商君書), translator W. Allyn Rickett dissents from the traditional Confucian view of the texts as Legalist, judging them to “present a point of view much closer to that of the realistic Confucian, Xunzi than either the highly idealistic Confucianism of Mencius or the Draconian Legalism advocated by Shang Yang.” The Guanzi shares with other “Legalist” texts the view that power is independent of morality, emphasizing techniques (Shu), but advocates “law” (Fa) as an adjunct to Confucian Li.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Guanzi, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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