Political Power in the Warring States



In this entry I will analyze the constitution of political power in the Warring States. I will argue that in the Warring States there were three political actors: the ruler jun 君, the individual with knowledge and talent shi 士 and the people min 民 as it is shown by Zhan Guo Ce in the following quotation:


At that time, the greatness of all under Heaven, the mass of the people, the influence of the strategists and the power of the rulers did not doubt the strategies of Su Qin[1].

Yuri Pines points out that, unlike the aristocrats of the period of Spring and Autumn, the shi of the Warring States did not possess territories and this made them more dependent on a ruler though, because the talent market, could criticize kings and feudal lords[2]. When the ideas of a shi were not accepted in one place, they had the possibility of moving to another country. In addition, a careful reading of Zhan Guo Ce shows us that, despite a process of centralization held by a few rulers, there were still shi who possessed their own territories. Although held positions in the court of a ruler, they had a territory in which to take refuge.

When Cai Ze and Lord of Ying encounter problems in the court of Qin, they withdraw to their respective fiefdoms[3]. Lord of Mengchang exercised his power in Xue independently despite having a position in Qi[4]. In addition, in certain passages of Zhan Guo Ce we can observe that the zhuhou 諸侯 have a sufficiently large power and their support was necessary to defend themselves against other states or to fight against an enemy. Yao Jia, in order to protect Qin, performs a tour to gain support among the zhuhou 諸侯. Han Feizi accuses him of taking advantage of his relationship with the feudal lords for his own benefit[5]. Dan, the crown prince of Yan, believes that the assassination of King Qin would provoke chaos among the zhuhou 諸侯 and, in this way, the kingdom of Qin would fall[6]. Tang Qie and Fan Ju, in order to appease the military pressure of the kingdoms of the Hezong, bribe their shi in order that they serve the kingdom of Qin[7].

Yuri Pines states that a anti-shi discourse took place in the Warring States for two reasons: first, the shi undermined the ruler’s authority in favor of the ministers. Secondly, there was a mistrust between the ruler and his entourage[8]. This discourse does not go against the shi 士 itself but proposes the creation of a strong and depersonalized power controlled by an intellectual elite in order to have greater power. This is shown in certain texts of Zhan Guo Ce.

Su Qin, after failing persuading the King of Qin, was ruined. However, after persuading the king of Zhao, he earned a great reputation and wealth[9]. Yan Chu claimed that the decentralization of the era of the kings of the past and considers the shi sycophants who come to the court of King of Qi, [10].

In the Zhan Guo Ce there is an interest in establishing a strong institutional power subject to the ideology of an intellectual elite. Shi 士 had incentives to be part of a strong power. The shi 士 who possessed their own territories did not have the wealth of those who held positions in the great centers of power.

Su Qin is concerned about the evil words that make King Hui of Qin not follow the path of the righteous kings of the past[11]. Fan Ju warns the king of Qin that he is only willing to advise him if he proves not to be carried away by the wrong advice of deceivers[12].

Yuri Pines notes that in the Chinese texts there is, on the one hand, the ideal of the minben sixiang 民本思想, while the people’s intervention in politics is seen as the source of political chaos[13]. According to Yuri Pines, Zi Chang shows a contradiction in his vision of the people’s participation in political affairs: he considers the people’s protests to be good, but, at the same time, he does not think they should be heard.

The relationship between government and people must be understood in terms of harm-benefit. It is not possible to have power without the support of popular masses. Following the advice of Zou Ji, the king of Qi establishes prizes for those who criticize him[14]. The Lord of Mengchang in order to gain the approval of the people, forgives the debts to the people of Xue[15]. King Wen of Zhou, under the pressure of so-called guoren 國人 is forced to readmit court craftsman Ji 籍[16]. Sima Cuo urges King of Qin to conquer Shu because this territory has riches with which he can enrich the people and strengthen the army[17]. Under pressure from his ministers, especially the Duke Hui, the Prince of Wei postpone the funeral of his father to prevent the people fall ill because of bad weather[18].

In the Warring States, the ruler needed the support of the shi 士, not only because of their intelligence and talent, but also because they possessed their own territories and could influence other centers of power. Likewise, loyalty of the people was not guaranteed, but depended on policies that were beneficial to the masses.


[1] Zhan Guo Ce, 3.2

[2] Yuri Pines, ‘From Teachers to Subjects : Ministers Speaking to the Rulers , from Yan Ying 晏嬰 to Li Si 李斯’, in Facing the Monarch: Modes of Advice in the Early Chinese Court, ed. by Garet Olberding (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2013), pp. 69–99.

[3] Zhan Guo Ce, 5.16

[4] Zhan Guo Ce, 11,1

[5] Zhan Guo Ce 7.8

[6] Zhan Guo Ce, 31.5

[7] Zhan Guo Ce, 5.13

[8] Yuri Pines, Envisioning Eternal Empire :Chinese Political Thought of the Warring States Era (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2009).pp. 172-173

[9] Zhan Guo Ce, 3.2

[10] Zhan Guo Ce, 11,5

[11] Zhan Guo Ce, 3.2

[12] Zhan Guo Ce 5,8

[13] Pines, Envisioning Eternal Empire :Chinese Political Thought of the Warring States Era.pp.187-197

[14] Zhan Guo Ce, 8.12

[15] Zhan Guo Ce, 11.1

[16] Zhan Guo Ce, 1.11

[17] Zhan Guo Ce, 3.3

[18] Zhan Guo Ce, 23.6

Πάθος versus 心 Analysis of emotions in classical Chinese and Greek politics.


Javier Caramés Sánchez

Successful persuaders must know well what are the emotions that move the audience . This was well known by ancient rhetoricians in Greece and China as well as the philosophers of both civilizations who warned of the dangers of unleashing the emotional. Traditionally it is understood in opposition to the rational. The rational is associated with the soul while the emotions are related to the body.

However, modern psychology shows us an alternative to this separation between rational soul and body driven by emotions. They are two sides of the brain: the cold cognition and the hot cognition. The first is where it is the calculation, the rational and the normative. It is characterized by its slowness and often sends instructions to hot cognition where the emotional and the instinctive are located. Unlike the first, hot cognition is fast and agile. Edward Slingerland points out that there are different models of ethics according to the type of cognition. In Western philosophy, the predominant ethic is based on cold cognition. In China there were ethics based on the cold cognition (Mohism and Legalism) However, mainstream moral values system is based on hot cognition and it comes from the Taoists and Confucians[1].

These ethical systems based on hot cognition or cold cognition are the product of a hard competition for influencing political power. Although the historical circumstances of Classical Greece and China are substantially different, both became a reference for later times and cultures. However, what we know of these two classic civilizations has gone through several filters, among which are the selection of texts that posterity made. The Greek literary texts that we preserve come practically in their entirety from a single city-state: Athens. On the contrary, the texts that came from the Warring States Period have diverse origins within a much wider geographical scope.

The political system of the Greek texts is the Athenian democracy while Chinese texts show us the rivalries that existed between various states (guo 國). The political power of the former was exercised by an assembly of free and equal citizens who share a common destiny. These citizens were the men who made war. Its form of combat was the hoplite phalanx whose operation demanded of the perfect coordination of all that formed it. On the contrary, in China political power is a jun 君 that manages to dominate a large territory with the loyalty and talent of feudal lords zhuhou 諸侯 or his ministers chen 臣.

In Greece the aim of those who wants to influence in the political power is this mass of citizens that decides on the subjects of the polis in the Assembly. As Aristotle shows in Rhetoric, the emotions (τὰ παθὴ) are what most influence the mass[2]. Knowing the emotions was what made the difference between success and fails. Similarly in China, Han Feizi and Gui Gu Zi point out that the most important part of persuasion are xin [3] and qing 情 respectively[4]. The first refers to the heart understood as the decision making organ while the second refers to the emotional state that the receiver conceals within[5].

People with oratory skills could influence the mass of citizens in order to satisfy their own interests. In the same way, eloquent people could create alliances and provoke discord. The tendency in Greek texts is to seek an absolute truth to prevent the deception of bad words, λόγοι, that proliferate through the mass. In the Chinese texts, the tendency is to seek a path dao 道 that lead the heart xin 心 of the ruler and the people around him to a good behaviour.

[1] See Edx course Chinese Thought: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science

[2] W.D. Ross, Aristotelis Ars Rhetorica, 1355b-1356

[3] Han Feizi 韓非子, Shui Nan 說難

[4] Gui Gu Zi 鬼谷子,Chuai Bian 揣編 and Mo Bian 摩編

[5] J. Caramés (哈偉爾), “Yalishiduode “xiuci xue” zhong de `qingxu'(páthos) guan yu zhanguo shiqi shilei gainian 亞里士多德《修辭學》中的「情緒」(πάθος) 觀與戰國時期似類概念” in Zhan Guo Ce Xiuci Yanjiu 戰國策修辭研究

Webinar 戰國時期言論自由 (Freedom of Speech in Warring States Period)


戰國時期言論自由 (Freedom of Speech in Warring States Period)

Time: Thursday 4th of May of 2017 at 03:00 (Madrid time)

Language: Chinese

Speaker: Javier Caramés Sánchez (哈偉爾)

Link to Webinar: https://zoom.us/j/757864849

戰國時期是君主集權的時代,但是也是重視的直言正諫的時期。 Yuri Pines先生認為,士因為沒有自己的獨立土地,所以變成越來越依靠君主。不過,戰國早期天下之士還是批評君主, 當時有很多諸侯國,因此士想法不受到重視,可以去另一個諸侯國。Yuri Pines先生說當時有很大人才市場,因為諸侯希望吸引能力最強的士。即使士不獨立,還是可以批評君主。到了戰國末年,諸侯國減少,士的選擇也變少。天下統一的時候,只有一個皇帝,所以士無法尋找統治者的保護。



Is zongheng 縱橫 the same as ῥητορική (rhetoric)?


Javier Caramés Sánchez

IE University

In this paper I will argue that the equivalent of term ῥητορική (rhetoric) in classical Chinese is zongheng 縱橫. This term refers to the art of a kind of person called ningren 佞人[1] represented by Su Qin 蘇秦 and Zhang Yi 張義. Zongheng has three common features with the word ῥητορική in the meaning that Plato gives it. First, it refers to an art used to persuade and to get profit. Second, their target is an unwise people. Third, they were considered a pernicious art of persuasion.

The Chinese word for rhetoric is xiucixue 修辭學. This term appears in the twentieth century. The term xiuci 修辭 also existed in antiquity but with a different meaning. The first time the word xiuci 修辭 appears is in the Yi Jing 易經 [2]. This word is related to rhetoric but it’s meaning does not refer to a discipline with a terminology system, a tradition and a canonical works. For this reason, we cannot identify the ancient Chinese rhetoric with the term xiuci 修辭.

Lu Xing identifies six terms related to persuasion in Warring State text. Those are yan 言, ci 辭 , jian 諫, shui/shuo 說, ming 名 and bian 辯. Lu also says that Western rhetoric is comparable with mingbianxue 名辯學 whose field of study includes the art of language, logic, persuasion and argumentation. However, she says that none of these terms corresponds exactly to the term rhetoric employed as such is understood in Western languages[3].

The classical Greek term ῥητορική first appears in the fourth century BC. Plato uses it and it refer to the teachings of his rivals. It arises when the art of persuasion has some level of development. Schiappa notes that there were arts of persuasion associated with λόγος previously but they were not called ῥητορική. The term ῥητορική has an ideological meaning. Plato popularized it in order to discredit the teachings of his rivals and, especially, Isocrates[4]. In contrast to the philosophers who always seek the truth, users of the rhetoric seek their own benefit deceiving an unwise audience. In this paper I will discuss that the terms zongheng alludes to an art of persuasion with negative connotations in Wang Chong’s Lunheng. Therefore, both have a very similar meaning to the term ῥητορική in Plato.

The notion of the argumentation of Wang Chong has the following common features with Plato. First, the ultimate goal of Wang Chong’s rhetoric is truth zhen真and the beautiful mei 美. Second, both have an ethical approach to discipline: the persuader must be in possession of a moral quality[5]. Third, Wang Chong was interested in seeking the rationality and criticized the beliefs of his day that he considered wrong, especially anthropomorphism of Heaven and omens[6]. In fact, the purpose of Lunheng is to correct the falsehood:


The reason why I wrote Lunheng is that there are a lot of books with errors whose empty and false words must be overcome by the really beautiful[7].

In Wang Chong’s Daning, there is a synonymous of Zongheng: chuaimo. It also appears in an anecdote of Zhan Guo Ce[8]. This anecdote narrates how Su Qin 蘇秦 became the most important persuader of the Hezong. In this anecdote it is said:

夜發書,陳篋數十,得《太公陰符》之謀, 伏而誦之, 簡練以為揣摩。

When [Su Qin] opened the box of books, he found the Tai Gong Yinfu and bent to memorize it. Then, he began to exercise chuaimo.[9]

The modern Zhan Guo Ce’s commentator Fan Xiangyong said about the term chuaimo 揣摩 the following:


The Gui Gu Zi has [two] chapters [called] Chuai and Mo that teach how to inquire the emotional state of the feudal lords.[10]

This anecdote continues as follows:


After several years [Su Qin] matured chuaimo and he said: “With this I can really persuade the rulers of this age. “[11]

Fan Xiangyong comments:


[This] means that [Su Qin] learned the art of chuaimo[12].

Therefore, this anecdote shows that Su Qin was able to persuade rulers after learning the art of chuaimo[13]. In Wang Chong’s Lunheng chuaimo 揣摩  refers to art employed by ningren 佞人represented by Zhang Yi and Su Qin:


Zhang Yi and Su Qin were individuals who avoided disasters and hazards, lived in a chaotic time and followed the path of the art of chuaimo[14].

Wang Chong said that Zhang Yi and Su Qin learn to persuade with Gui Gu Zi:


Someone asked: “Do ningren improve their talent and increase their knowledge observing ordinary people or they have a master who teaches them[15]? “I said:” Ningren have they the knowledge to deceive people. [However], ningren need an art to impress the ruler when they are persuading him. It is the same way as high officer need to have courage to overawe people but, when he is in wars and battles, he necessarily used a military art to attack an army. The art of [ningren] was zongheng and his teacher was Gui Gu Zi. Zhuan says: «Su Qin and Zhang Yi learned the art of zongheng with Gui Gu Zi.»[16]

This text shows us that chuaimo was an art of persuasion employed by Su Qin and Zhang Yi who were students of Gui Gu Zi. This text also shows that ningren not only have a great natural talent gaocai 高才 to deceive others zharen 詐人 but they need a master shi 師 to teach them the art. Wang Chong also said that Su Qin and Zhang Yi learned the art of zongheng 從橫 and his master was Gui Gu Zi. The term zongheng is problematic: Does it refer to Zongheng School?

The term Zongheng Jia 縱橫家 first appeared in Han Shu and is absent in the list of schools Sima Tan. Ban Gu characterizes Zongheng School as follows:


The positive aspect is that they held their power adapting to circumstances, they used to accept a mandate and they did not receive instructions. However, they were evil people, his superiors were cheated by them and rejected his confidence. [17]

This text shows us the following: firstly, those who belonged to Zongheng School were able to accept the request of a ruler ming 命 to carry out a mission without specific instructions shouci受辭. Second, they are characterized as evil, dishonest and liars. The Zongheng School is not known for having a clear philosophical system but for its lack of ideals. However, there is a considerable agreement that its main feature is diplomacy. Scholars who write in western languages often use the term of Chinese sophists for Zongheng School and the School of Names. This ambivalence is also in the Hanshi Waizhuan 韓詩外傳:


In the stupidity of that time, Fan Ju, Wei Mou, Tian Wen, Zhuang Zhou, Shen Dao, Tian Pian, Moti, Song Ping, Deng Xi Hui Shi and his followers adorned wicked speeches, embellished treacherous words, created chaos in what is under the Heaven, deceived and confused a mass of ignorant and make them confuse truth, falsehood, order and chaos.[18]

Zongheng School is usually considered as sophists because of his relationship with his eloquence and rhetoric. The term is used more as a convention. Zongheng School is closely connected with the art of persuasion. In Yang’s 揚子 Fa Yan 法言 is also said that Zhang Yi and Su Qin studied with Gui Gu Zi and learned the art of zongheng:


Someone asked: “Zhang Yi and Su Qin studied with Gui Gu Zi, they learned the words of the zongheng, brought peace to the Central Countries each for more than ten years Is it so?” I said: “They were people who deceive: wise men hate them.[19]

In this text it can be observed that zongheng is refers to the teachings that Su Qin and Zhang Yi learned. Likewise Wang Chong, this term did not refer to a school but an art[20]. The ancient scholars identify the term zongheng with a group of historical figures without a defined philosophical principles and known for persuasive capacity. In Wang Chong this term refers to the art of Su Qin and Zhang.

When Su Qin and Zhang Yi were studying with Gui Gu Zi, they were encourage to make him cry:


[Gui Gu Zi] dug a hole and said, “Come down, and if you make me cry, you will be prepared for obtaining a feud.” Su Qin persuaded him and makes him cry. Zhang Yi didn’t succeed:” Su Qin was minister in Zhao and he joined the six states. ” [21]

In this text it can also observed that the teachings of Gui Gu Zi were destined to move the audience’s emotions and to gain profit: Su Qin, after successfully learn Gui Gu Zi teachings, became minister of Zhao and unify the six states against Qin. The target of ningren is a fool ruler who is unable to appreciate the talent and to recognize the treacherous:


Therefore, all the rulers distance themselves from the slanders and approach to the benevolent but there is no one who is able to distinguish between xianren and ningren“[Someone] replied:” ningren can be recognized but ruler are not able to recognize them. Foolish rulers are not able to recognize xianren. Since they are not able to recognize the xianren, they are also not able to recognize the ningren. Only the wise and virtuous men use the nine virtues to examine actions and verify words with deeds. If an individual’s behaviour does not correspond to the nine virtues and his words do not correspond with his actions, he is not a xianren but a ningren.[22]

According to Wang Chong, ningren manage to achieve their goals as follows:


Those inter the wicked who get merits are called ningren. Those who are able to get merits have high talent and keen intellect. Those who set his mind on the distant necessarily rely on the sense of justice and benevolence to cause chaos in the great virtue. For this reason, in Juening it is said: “When the ruler likes disputations, ningren talk about profit. When the ruler likes the refinement, ningren talk about fine things. “[23]

In both texts it can be observed that rulers are not able to recognize ningren. Only virtuous men are able to recognize them with the nine virtues. There is considerable consensus among scholars that the rhetoric of Confucius and his followers it is characterized by ethical nature[24]. This trend is also visible in Wang Chong who did not reject the persuasion based on righteousness yi 義 and property and li 禮:


Someone asked: ” xianren behaves in accordance with the Way and gets an important job and a good salary. Why [ningren] need to use flattery to gain prestige and wealth?” I said: “Ningren knows that if they moves in the Way, they can gain wealth and prestige. However, those who seize nobility and wages with flattery are not able to control their desires. Those who know how to handle hard ploughing can get millet, and those who know how to sell their products, can get things. However, those who are not able to control their emotional state and their desires will necessarily steal. There is nobody who not appreciates those who act according to the propriety. However, those who violate the propriety are numerous and those who are righteous are few. [Because] the heart and emotional state [of ningren] are thirsty of desire, his spirit is weak and chaotic. Thus, the ningren and the xianren have the same qualities. [However], the ningren destroy themselves because of their emotional state. Thieves and robbers have the same knowledge as the merchants and peasants, but the former imprison themselves because of their desires.[25]

Michael Puett has analysed the meaning of qing 情 in relationship with the emotional in the Xing zi ming Chu, Xunzi, Zhuangzi, Huainanzi and Dong Zhongshu. In those texts it can be observed the idea that qing must be controlled through personal cultivation[26]. This idea is also in the in the above text. Ningren are not able to control their desires yu 欲 and emotional state qing 情. By contrast, xianren use li 禮  and yi 義 to control what they want in order to control himself.

In sum, according to Wang Chong, chuaimo and zongheng are the art of Su Qin and Zhang. Both are used by ningren who seek their profit without moral imperatives. Its opposite is the xianren who persuades with the propriety li 禮 and righteousness yi 義. The goal of ningren is a ruler who is unable to recognize treacherous and to appreciate talent. Likewise the term ῥητορική in Plato, zongheng and chuaimo refer to a negative art of persuasion used by immoral people called ningren. They seek their own profit, deceive fools rulers, reject propriety and righteousness and are led by their desires. The opposite of ningren are xianren whose art of persuasion relies on propriety and righteousness. For this reason, I suggest that the zongheng jia could be translated as School of Rhetoric.

References quoted

Chen Guanglei 陳光磊, Zhongguo Xiucixue Tongshi 中國修辭學通史 (Changchun: 吉林教育出版社 Jilin Jiaoyu Chubanshe, 1998)

Fan Xiangyong 范祥雍, and Fan Bangjin范邦瑾, Zhan Guo Ce Jianzheng戰國策箋證 (Shanghái: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe 上海古籍出版社, 2006)

Forke, Alfred, Lun-Heng (Nueva York: Paragon Book Gallery, 1962)

Goldin, Paul Rakita, ‘Miching Mallecho: The Zhanguo Ce and Classical Rhetoric’, SINO-PLATONIC PAPERS, 41 (1993)

Guo Changbao 过常宝, Xianqin Sanwen Yanjiu: Zaoqi Wenti Ji Huayu Fangshi de Shengcheng 先秦散文硏究: 早期文体及话语方式的生成 (Pekín: Renmin Chubanshe 人民出版社, 2009)

Haweier 哈偉爾, Zhanguoce Xiuci Yanjiu《戰國策》修辭研究 (Golden Light Academic Publishing, 2015)

Huiling, Ding, ‘Confucius’s Virtue-Centered Rhetoric: A Case Study of Mixed Research Methods in Comparative Rhetoric’, 26, 142–159

J.I. Crump, Intrigues; Studies of the Chan-Kuo Tsʻe, Michigan (University of Michigan Press, 1964)

Lu, Xing, Rhetoric in Ancient China , Fifth to Third Century B . C . E (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998)

Pines, Yuri, Envisioning Eternal Empire :Chinese Political Thought of the Warring States Era

Puett, Michael, ‘The Ethics of Responding Properly The Notion of 情 in Early Chinese Thought’, in Love and Emotions in Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. by Malvor Eifring (Leiden: Brill, 2004)

Puett, Michael J, ‘Listening to Sages: Divination, Omens, and the Rhetoric of Antiquity in Wang Chong’s Lunheng’, Oriens Extremus, 45 (2005), 271–281

Schiappa, Edward, The Beginnings of Rhetorical Theory in Classical Greece (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999)

Timmerman, David M., and Edward Schiappa, ‘Philosophia as a Term of Art: Recovering Isocrates’, in Classical Greek Rhetorical Theory and the Disciplining of Discourse, ed. by David M Timmerman and Edward Schiappa, pp. 43–66

Zhang Zongxiang 張宗祥, Lunheng Jiaozhu 論衡校注 (Shanghái: Shanghai Guji Chubanse 上海古籍出版社, 2010)

[1] Forke translates ningren 佞人 as “cunning” (See: Alfred Forke, Lun-Heng (Nueva York: Paragon Book Gallery, 1962).) . Its opposite is xianren, which means virtuous. In this paper I will use both term in Chinese transliterated into the Latin alphabet.

[2] Yijing周易, 1.12. In this book it is said: 脩辭立其誠 “The writer must be honest“

[3] Xing Lu, Rhetoric in Ancient China , Fifth to Third Century B . C . E (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998).

[4] Edward Schiappa, The Beginnings of Rhetorical Theory in Classical Greece (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999); David M. Timmerman and Edward Schiappa, ‘Philosophia as a Term of Art: Recovering Isocrates’, in Classical Greek Rhetorical Theory and the Disciplining of Discourse, ed. by David M Timmerman and Edward Schiappa, pp. 43–66.

[5] Chen Guanglei 陳光磊, Zhongguo Xiucixue Tongshi 中國修辭學通史 (Changchun: 吉林教育出版社 Jilin Jiaoyu Chubanshe, 1998).pp.239-241 y p.255 ).

[6] Michael J Puett, ‘Listening to Sages: Divination, Omens, and the Rhetoric of Antiquity in Wang Chong’s Lunheng’, Oriens Extremus, 45 (2005), 271–281.

[7] Lunheng, 84,2

[8] This anecdote is also transmitted by the Shiji

[9] Fan Xiangyong范祥雍 and Fan Bangjin范邦瑾, Zhan Guo Ce Jianzheng戰國策箋證 (Shanghái: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe 上海古籍出版社, 2006).p.159

[10] Fan Xiangyong范祥雍 and Fan Bangjin范邦瑾.p.159

[11] Fan Xiangyong范祥雍 and Fan Bangjin范邦瑾.p.159

[12] Fan Xiangyong范祥雍 and Fan Bangjin范邦瑾.p.159

[13] In the book Zhan Guo Ce Xiuci Yanjiu, I argued that in the Gui Gu Zi ‘s Mobian and Chuaibian it is presented a very similar to the notion of pathos (πάθος) developed in the Aristotle’s Rhetoric. This notion is the qing 情 that refers to the emotional state of the receptor. Good persuader must inquire it in order to know the emotional reaction of the listener (see: Haweier哈偉爾, Zhanguoce Xiuci Yanjiu《戰國策》修辭研究 (Golden Light Academic Publishing, 2015).)

[14] Lunheng, 33.8

[15] Zhang Zongxiang says that 上 is 正 whose meaning in this context is 平 « ordinary » (Zhang Zongxiang張宗祥, Lunheng Jiaozhu 論衡校注 (Shanghái: Shanghai Guji Chubanse 上海古籍出版社, 2010).) Forke interprets 上in its usual sense and translates學上世 as study the ancients ( Forke.p.52)

[16] Lunheng, 8.12

[17] Han Shu, 3.10.300

[18] Hanshi Waizhuan 韓詩外傳4,22

[19] Yangzi, Fayan, 11.14

[20] The term yan 言 possibly refers to anecdotes as those that are transmitted by Zhan Guo Ce. The aim of these anecdotes was the rhetorical training (See: Haweier哈偉爾; Paul Rakita Goldin, ‘Miching Mallecho: The Zhanguo Ce and Classical Rhetoric’, SINO-PLATONIC PAPERS, 41 (1993); Guo Changbao过常宝, Xianqin Sanwen Yanjiu: Zaoqi Wenti Ji Huayu Fangshi de Shengcheng 先秦散文硏究 : 早期文体及话语方式的生成 (Pekín: Renmin Chubanshe 人民出版社, 2009); J.I. Crump, Intrigues; Studies of the Chan-Kuo Tsʻe, Michigan (University of Michigan Press, 1964).

[21] Lunheng, 33.12

[22] Lunheng, 33.3

[23] Lunheng, 33.8

[24] Chen Guanglei 陳光磊; Lu; Ding Huiling, ‘Confucius’s Virtue-Centered Rhetoric: A Case Study of Mixed Research Methods in Comparative Rhetoric’, 26, 142–159.

[25] Lunheng, 33.1

[26] Michael Puett, ‘The Ethics of Responding Properly The Notion of 情 in Early Chinese Thought’, in Love and Emotions in Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. by Malvor Eifring (Leiden: Brill, 2004).

What does zhōngguó 中國 mean? An Approach from Zhan Guo Ce 戰國策.



Javier Caramés Sánchez 


In this entry I will discuss what does zhōngguó 中國 mean in the Zhan Guo Ce. It should be not translated as “China” but as “central states”. I will analyse the content of a series of quotations from Zhan Guo Ce in which this term is mentioned. As Yuri Pines states, the Chinese barbarian condition was not an inborn quality but a matter of cultivation[1]. In other words, the difference between the Chinese and the barbarian is related to a set of values and customs and not racial features. It can be observed in the following text:


I have heard that the central states is where intelligence and wisdom reside, is where the ten thousand things and riches come together, is where the virtuous and the wise transmit their teachings, is where benevolence and righteousness are shown, is where the doctrine of the Books of Poetry, History, Etiquette and Music is followed, is where extraordinary arts are used, is where the people from far away hope to came, is what the barbarian consider good behaviour. Now, Your Majesty rejects it, establishes the clothing of distant places, changes the teaching of the ancients, replaces its way, opposes the heart-mind of the people, studies bad things and leaves the central states. I would wish that Your Majesty thinks about it[2].


For this reason, if the ruler does not establishes strange clothes, the central states will not be closer to the behaviour of the barbarians. It is not what is used to teach people to become instructed in the etiquette[3].


All the white hair persuaders from the central states with a lot of knowledge want to leave the alliance between Qin and Han[4].

The central states are seen as a reference for civilization. It is the place associated with knowledge, morality and technique. In the Zhan Guo Ce it can be observed that the central states, despite having received the influence of a single master (Confucius), have different etiquettes lǐ 禮:


The Confucians has the same teacher but different notions of the etiquette, the central states have similar custom but different teaching[5].

The habits of central states are seen by the king of Zhao Wuling 武靈王 as old fashioned and should be changed:


I do not expect you to obey the customs of the central states, to go against the intentions of Jian and Xiang, to criticize my orders of changing clothes with the shame of forgetting the affairs of the state[6].

What countries are these central states that are the origin of this culture of reference for others? These central states are the kingdoms of the central plain: Qi, Wei and Han:


If Your Majesty destroys Chu, you will to enrich Han and Wei in the central countries,  Qi will became stronger and Han and Wei will have enough power to resist Qin[7].


For this reason, if Qin captures Qi, his power will grow in the central states. If Zhao, Wei and Chu capture Qi, they will have enough strength to be the enemy of Qin[15].

Song it is also consider a part of the central states:


Song is a prosperous land among the central states. It is also a place of confluence of neighbouring people. It is better to conquer ten li in Song than to conquer it in Yan[8].

The king of Chu was a non-central state:


The king of Chu said: « Chu is a remote and humble place in where women such beautiful as the women from central states have never been seen[9]


Now, if you are minister of the kingdom of Chu and you repels the attacks from the central states, you will became what you wish and you will not get what you seek[10].

Qin was also a non-central state:


If the central states do not have affairs in Qin, then Qin will ferocious capture your country. If the central states have affairs in Qin, then Qin will underestimate the diplomacy and overvalue the presents. For this reason, he will serve my lord’s country[11].


You (the Lord of Rang from Qin) will not have any disasters in many generations if you are able to destroy Qi, to gives fiefs, to be called lord of ten thousand carriage and do to diplomatic missions inside the feudal lords of the central states and have you south frontier with Tao[13].

According with the exegesis of Yokota Koretaka 橫田惟孝, the central state means the feudal lords of Shandong 山東[12]. In ancients text Shandong alluded to the area at the east of the mountains Xiao 崤 and Hua 華. These central states were a strategic point for Qin; they must be conquered in order to become more powerful:


Now, Han and Wei are situated in the central states and the pillar of what is under the Heaven. If Your Majesty wishes become hegemon, you must be close to the central countries and consider it the pillar of all under the Heaven in order to menaces Chu and Zhao[14].


If  all under the Heaven fights with Qin, the king of Qin will be close to the king with the see (Qi). If Qi abandon the Hezong Alliance, Qin will get a central state and will seek profit in Wei, Han and Zhao.[16]

The central states are the basic pillar of what is under the Heaven. Because of it, Qin should be having influence in this region to defeat their enemies.

In Sum, zhōngguó 中國 is refers to the states of the central plain: Han, Wei, Qi and Song. These states are seen as a centre of power that should be under control. They are also lands whose morals values are a reference for the rest of all under the Heaven. The kingdoms of Qin and Chu are systematically excluded from the central states.  As we have seen, the king of Qin does not consider himself part of the central states. Central states are the target of his armies. If Qin conquers it, it will have the hegemony over all under the Heaven tiānxià 天下.



[2] Zhan Guo Ce, 19-4. All the translations of this entry were done by me.

[3] Zhan Guo Ce, 19-4.

[4] Zhan Guo Ce, 28.3

[5] Zhan Guo Ce, 19-4

[6] Zhan Guo Ce, 19-4

[7] Zhan Guo Ce, 6-7

[8] Zhan Guo Ce, 30-12

[9] Zhan Guo Ce, 16-4

[10] Zhan Guo Ce, 16-10

[11] Zhan Guo Ce, 4-4

[12] Fan Xiangyong 范祥雍 and Fan Bangjin 范邦瑾, Zhan Guo Ce Jianzheng 戰國策箋證 (Shanghái: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe 上海古籍出版社, 2006)., p.247

[13] Zhan Guo Ce, 5-2

[14] Zhan Guo Ce, 5-9

[15] Zhan Guo Ce, 10-12

[16] Zhan Guo Ce, 21.4

What is the jūnzǐ 君子 from the point of view of rhetoric?




Javier Caramés Sánchez

IE University

 Roger Ames observes that what is usually associated with Confucius is a view of the world shared by others Chinese thinkers. For this reason, he ask why we should called it Confucianism rather than Chineseness (Roger T. 2002). In my opinion, Confucianism may be associated with the figure of jūnzǐ 君子 that may be compared with the philosopher. Why do I think that this comparison is pertinent? The jūnzǐ 君子 and philosopher embody the ideals of the person who should lead the society and defend it from deceivers skilled in persuasion. One of the core qualities of both was the way of speaking. Both of them must be persuasive to let their ideals prevail over teachings based on deceiving that lead the society to the chaos.

In ancient Greece there were two disciplines related with persuasion: oratory and rhetoric. The first were the speeches of famous persuaders and the second were treatises of speaking. As Xing Lu states (Lu 1998), there is not a specific term for rhetoric understood as literary gender. However, in principal Schools of thought there are texts with many reflexions on rhetoric as can be seem in the mentioned book of Lu Xing. She also did an analysis of the historical documents as Shan Shu 尚書, Guo Yu 國語, Zuo Zhuan 左傳 and Zhan Guo Ce 戰國策 that transmits speeches of rulers and ministers (Lu 1998 pp.) I consider that the last of these, the  Zhan Guo Ce 戰國策, is a valuable source of rhetoric.

As its names indicates, the Zhan Guo Ce 戰國策 is a book composed by   策 of the Warring States zhànguó 戰國. What is   策 means? The original meaning of   策 is whip for the houses. In a figurative sense, it refers to the way by that the ruler can lead a mass of people for a purpose, for example, to attack an enemy. For this reason, it is usually translated as « strategies». The protagonists of this book are know are person who were usually successful in persuading a ruler by giving him a   策. That is, a way of leading a country successfully. According to Liu Xiang, the plans of them  were very useful to save the army from critical situations bīnggé jiùjízhī shì 兵革救急之勢 but the were not suitable to educate a country lín guó jiàohuà 臨國教化. These persuaders of the Zhan Guo Ce were classified by posterity in the category of School of Zongheng zònghéng jiā 縱橫家.

In sum, the philosophers in Ancient Greece were defined in opposition to the sophists. Philosophers seek to truth even if it can cause him troubles. The Sophists are seemed as persuaders who teach other how to lie in order to get their own benefit. In the same way, in ancients texts the jūnzǐ 君子’s way of addressing the ruler was opposed to the way of the people of zònghéng jiā  縱橫家, also known with names as yóushì  游士 or nìngrén 佞人, all of them are kind of  xiǎorén 小人, the people that embodies the opposite features of jūnzǐ 君子. The jūnzǐ seeks the righteousness yì  義 when they persuade the ruler. By contrast the yóushì seeks the benefit lì  利 and do not care to harm others if it is necessary.


Lu, X., 1998. Rhetoric in Ancient China , fifth to third century B . C . E, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

Roger T., A., 2002. Thinking through Comparisons: Analytical and Narrative Methods for Cultural Understanding. In S. Shankman & D. Stephen, eds. Early China/ancient Greece: thinking through comparisons. Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 93–110.