The Hundred Schools of Thought - 諸子百家 were philosophies and schools that flourished from the 6th century BC to 221 BC during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period of ancient China. Along the major thinkers of the period, mention exists of many other. For example:
  • Hsu Hsing - 許行 (pīnyīn: Xǔ xíng) and Ch'en Hsiang - 陳相 (simplified: 陈相, pīnyīn: Chén xiāng) are aproximately contemporaries of Yang Chu - 楊朱 and were linked to what was called the Agricultural School – 農家 (simplified: 农家, pīnyīn: Nóng jiā). Their general idea was that there was no need for a ruler and that all men should work together in the fields.

  • Kao Tzu - 告子 (pīnyīn: Gào zĭ) was a contemporary of Mencius that opposed the Mencius doctrine of man's naturally good nature. Kao Tzu sustained that man's nature is neither good or bad (Mencius, VI-2, 『告子曰:'性猶湍水也,決諸東方則東流,袂諸西方則西流。人性之無分於善不善也,猶水之無分於東西也。'』,“The philosopher Gao said, 'Man's nature is like water whirling round in a corner. Open a passage for it to the east, and it will flow to the east; open a passage for it to the west, and it will flow to the west. Man's nature is indifferent to good and evil, just as the water is indifferent to the east and west.'”). His doctrines are found today only on the corresponding chapter in the Mencius.

  • Yin Wen - 尹文 (pīnyīn: Yǐn wén) and Sung K'eng - 宋牼 (pīnyīn: Sòng kēng) were contemporary of Mencius. They proposed a pacifist and tolerant doctrine. (Han Fei Zi L-4,『 宋榮子之議, 設不鬭爭,取不隨仇,不羞囹圄,見侮不辱,世主以為寬而禮之。夫是漆雕之廉, 將非宋榮之恕也;是宋榮之寬,將非漆雕之暴也。』, “According to the teaching of Sung Yung Tzŭ, a man should delight in a non-combatant attitude towards opponents and approve of non-retaliatory actions against enemies; if cast into prison, he should not be ashamed; and, if insulted, he should not feel humiliated.”).
  • Shen Pu-hai, 385 B.C. - 337 B.C., and Shang Yang, 390 B.C. – 338 B.C, were two philosophers that are aligned with the legalist school. Although they proposed different levers for the the king, they shared the political point of view of the prince, in opposition to other schools of the time (Confucionists, Mohists, Taoists) that would look at politics from the point of view of the people.
    Their works being lost, references to them can be found on the Han Feizu. The two different concepts proposed were:
    • Statecraft, or art of the statesman - 術 (simplified: 术 ,pīnyīn: shù) by Shen Pu-hai
    • The Law - 法 (pīnyīn: fǎ) by Shang Yang
    (Han Feizu, XLIII - 『問者曰:“申不害、公孫鞅,此二家之言孰急於國?”應之曰:“是不可程也。人不食,十日則死;大寒之隆,不衣亦死。謂之衣食孰急於人,則是不可一無也,皆養生之具也。今申不害言術,而公孫鞅為法。術者,因任而授官,循名而責實,操殺生之柄,課群臣之能者也,此人主之所執也。法者,憲令著於官府,刑罰必於民心,賞存乎慎法,而罰加乎姦令者也,此臣之所師也。君無術則弊於上,臣無法則亂於下,此不可一無,皆帝王之具也。” 』, “A questioner said: ‘Of the doctrines of the two schools of Shen Pu-hai and Kung-sun Yang (Shang Yang), which is more valuable to the state?’. The answer was: ‘This cannot be decided. If a man does not eat for ten days, he will day. In the time when the great cold is in full sway, if he does not have clothing, he will also die. If of the food and the clothing one is to ask which is more necessary to the man, the reply will be that he cannot be without either of them. They are both articles for preserving life. Now Shen Pu-hai talks about methods of government, while Kung-sun Yang makes laws. These methods consist in awarding offices according to their responsabilities, and holding actualities according to their names. They consist in keeping in one’s hand the power of life and death, and in examining the ability of one’s subjects. This is something a ruler of men keeps in his grasp. Laws serve to provide the models for the orders promulgated by the officials; that penalties will be kept fresh in the minds of the people; that rewards will go to those that are observant of the laws; and that punishment will go to those that violate orders. These are guides for the ministers. If the ruler does not have his methods of government, there will be weakness above. If his ministers do not have their laws, there will be confusion below. Neither of these can be dispensed with. They are both the instruments of emperors and kings.’”).

  • Péng Měng - 彭蒙 (pīnyīn: Péng Měng) – is another of the contemporaries of Mencius and Yang chu that made the chinese thought flourish. He advanced a line of thought that is close to, but was later criticized by the taoist ortodoxy. His ideas can be mostly found in the Zhuang Zi.
    The key themes developed by Peng Meng, together with Shen Tao and T'ien P'ien are:
    • Equality of all things (Zhuang Zi, 33-Miscellaneous Chapters 天下-4,『天能覆之而不能載之,地能載之而不能覆之,大道能包之而不能辯之』, “Heaven can cover, but it cannot sustain; Earth can contain, but it cannot cover. The Great Dao embraces all things, but It does not discriminate between them.”).
    • To be impartial and non-partisan, to be easy-going and unselfish, to be decisive but without premeditation (Zhuang Zi, 33-Miscellaneous Chapters 天下-4, 『公而不當,易而無私,決然無主,趣物而不兩,不顧於慮,不謀於知,於物無擇,與之俱往,古之道術有在於是者。彭蒙、田駢、慎到聞其風而說之。』, “Public-spirited, and with nothing of the partizan; easy and compliant, without any selfish partialities; capable of being led, without any positive tendencies; following in the wake of others, without any double mind; not looking round because of anxious thoughts; not scheming in the exercise of their wisdom; not choosing between parties, but going along with all - all such courses belonged to the Daoists of antiquity, and they were appreciated by Peng Meng, Tian Pian, and Shen Dao.”)
    • To discard knowledge, to abandon self and follow the inevitable (Zhuang Zi, 33-Miscellaneous Chapters 天下-4, 『是故慎到,棄知去己,而緣不得已,泠汰於物以為道理曰:“知不知,將薄知而後鄰傷之者也。”』, “Therefore Shen Dao discarded his knowledge and also all thought of himself, acting only where he had no alternative, and pursued it as his course to be indifferent and pure in his dealings with others. He said that the best knowledge was to have no knowledge, and that if we had a little knowledge it was likely to prove a dangerous thing.”)

  • Tsou Yen - 鄒衍 (simplified: 驺衍, pīnyīn: Zōu Yǎn) lived between 305 B.C. and 240 B.C. His works, now lost, developed the naturalistic view into what would be the cosmology adopted by virtually all schools. He was an early exponent of the five elements school - 五行, one of the basis for what was later called the School of the Yin Yang and the five elements - 陰陽五行家 (simplified: 阴阳五行家, pīnyīn: yīn yáng wǔ xíng jiā).
    • The five phases - 五行 (pīnyīn: wǔ xíng) that succeed each other. A cyclical view that was applied to the seasons, but also to a cyclical view of history. It was then derived into special and other notions. (尚書-洪範 – The Book of Documents – The Great Plan,『一、五行:一曰水,二曰火,三曰木,四曰金,五曰土。水曰潤下,火曰炎上,木曰曲直,金曰從革,土爰稼穡。潤下作咸,炎上作苦,曲直作酸,從革作辛,稼穡作甘。』, “i. 'First, of the five elements. The first is water; the second is fire; the third, wood; the fourth, metal; and the fifth, earth. (The nature of) water is to soak and descend; of fire, to blaze and ascend; of wood, to be crooked and straight; of metal, to yield and change; while (that of) earth is seen in seed-sowing and in-gathering. That which soaks and descends becomes salt; that which blazes and ascends becomes bitter; that which is crooked and straight becomes sour; that which yields and changes becomes acrid; and from seed-sowing and in-gathering comes sweetness.'”).

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