The literate and the power in pre-imperial China

Lecture by Frédéric Wang, Professor at INALCO (National Institute of Oriental Languages ​​and Civilizations).

The Chinese scholar had a very complex relationship with power. Sometimes he was in the center, sometimes he moved away. These reports are above all a reflection of an individual attitude, a way of life on the part of scholars. But they are also closely linked to a philosophical stance. Indeed, the different schools of thought, like Confucianism, Taoism or Legism, conceive very differently the relations that a scholar must have with the power. "Should we serve?" Is a recurring question in the writings of representatives of these schools of thought. This paper tries to account for the possible relational configurations of the literate and the power during the pre-imperial period where the great philosophical currents were formed. An evolution of these relations with the Empire will also be evoked so that we can measure the enlargement or, on the contrary, the narrowing of the typologies of relations that connect the literate and the power.

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