Huang-Lao’s Conception of Universal Law: Why Govern with the Way and the Law?

  • Zhongjiang Wang


According to Sima Tan’s “Six Schools” theory recorded in the Shiji and Ban Gu’s “Categorization of the Many Masters” found in the Hanshu, Daoism (Daojia) is essentially a political philosophy or system of governance.1 This definition radically diverges from the modern view of Daoism as a tradition of hermits seeking individual fulfillment.2 Actually, Laozi’s philosophy originally combined the regulation of the state and the regulation of the body, though these later developed along two different paths. One became the “individualist” trend represented by the Zhuangzi ’s emphasis on individual life, spiritual freedom, and transcendence. The other became the Huang-Lao “political” trend represented by the Guanzi 《管子》, Peng Meng 彭 蒙, Tian Pian 田駢, Shen Dao 慎到, the newly discovered archeological texts of the Huangdi sijing, and the Shanghai Museum text The Three Virtues. If we include the Dao-Legalist school of Laozi-inflected Hanfeizi within the bounds of Huang-Lao, then the scope of this political philosophy becomes even broader.3


Confucian Morality Legal Philosophy Public Justice Great Structure Myriad Thing 
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  1. 1.
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  • Zhongjiang Wang

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