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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

“Masters Literature” constitutes China’s most influential and productive repository of philosophical thought, featuring debates about fundamental questions of social order, the good life, governance, heavenly justice, human character, and the cosmos. The chapter first discusses how people have defined the Masters corpus from antiquity to the present and how divergent definitions affect our understanding of this textual genre. It then surveys the most important intellectual camps and approaches within Masters Literature, namely Confucians, Mohists, Persuaders, Lao-Zhuang and Huang-Lao Daoism, statecraft specialists, encyclopedic compendia, and Han masters and scholar-officials, asking in each case what central intellectual concerns were at stake and what major rhetorical formats and strategies were used to make convincing arguments. Lastly, it touches on how Masters Literature is significant today and what kind of debates it has catalyzed for the present.

Keywords: Masters Literature, philosophy, early Chinese thought, Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism, Mohism, Huang-Lao Daoism, rhetoric

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