One heaven, one history, one people: Repositioning the Zhou in Royal Addresses to subdued enemies in the “Duo shi” 多士 and “Duo fang” 多方 chapters of the Shangshu and in the “Shangshi” 商誓 chapter of the Yi Zhoushu

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Abstract

Joachim Gentz’s essay “One Heaven, One History, One People” analyzes the cultural and historical contexts of “The Many Officers (“Duo shi” 多士) and “The Many Regions” (“Duo fang” 多方) chapters of the Shangshu together with the “Harangue to Shang” (“Shang shi” 商誓) chapter of the Remnant Zhou Documents (Yi Zhoushu 逸周書), three Zhou royal addresses to the officers of the subdued Shang dynasty (16th cent - 1040 BCE). It discusses their intertextual relationships with other texts and their argumentative and rhetorical structures to explore when and for which purpose these chapters were written, what their historical function was, and why two such chapters are preserved in the Shangshu. According to Gentz, these texts present a framework of regulations that defined a new socio-political order stratified on the principle of meritocracy, together with a mode of discourse based on persuasive reasoning. The—in cross-cultural comparison highly exceptional—situation of a king addressing the subdued officers of the enemy highlights this meritocratic ideology as a means of integration and of exerting central control under the Mandate of Heaven. This authority appropriates not only space (by military excursions) but also time by inventing an expanded “patterned” past defined by universal principles and manifested in historical analogies and continuities. Far beyond the Western Zhou, these speeches appear to belong to a cultural archive of texts that provided models of speech acts for further circumstances of conquest and assimilation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOrigins of Chinese Political Philosophy
Subtitle of host publicationStudies in the Composition and Thought of the Shangshu (Classic of Documents)
EditorsMartin Kern, Dirk Meyer
Place of PublicationLeiden; Boston
PublisherBrill
Chapter4
Pages146-192
Number of pages47
Volume8
ISBN (Electronic)9789004343504
ISBN (Print)9789004343498
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2017

Publication series

NameStudies in the History of Chinese Texts
PublisherBrill
Volume8
ISSN (Print)1877-9425

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