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Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China (Cambridge Studies in Chinese History, Literature and Institutions) Hardcover – May 8, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0521624206 ISBN-10: 0521624207

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Chinese History, Literature and Institutions
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (May 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521624207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521624206
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,362,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...an ambitious reexamination of the origins and development of Wuxing...it brilliantly clarifies this central component of traditional Chinese imperial statecraft as it was forged in the hands of Confucian ideologues throughout the duration of the Han dynasty." The Journal of Religion

"This is an excellent book, valuable for its deft use of previous scholarship to describe the interaction of politics and religion. Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China succeeds both as an attack on essentialism and as a description of relationships between political ideals and cosmologies in pre-imperial and early imperial times. It clearly conveys its central message that Chinese cosmology changed over time in conjunction with political changes...Wang provides the most elegant and accurate descriptions that have yet been offered in English of certain fundamental structures. For this reason alone this book should receive wide circulation." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies

Book Description

This book offers a radical reinterpretation of the formative stages of Chinese culture and history, tracing the central role played by cosmology in the formation of China's early empires. It crosses the disciplines of history, social anthropology, archaeology, and philosophy to illustrate how cosmological systems, particularly the Five Elements, shaped political culture. By focusing on dynamic change in early cosmology, the book undermines the notion that Chinese cosmology was homogenous and unchanging. By arguing that cosmology was intrinsic to power relations, it also challenges prevailing theories of political and intellectual history.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Farmer John on September 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book analyzes the interaction between religious ideals and sociopolitical reality in Early China. Wang's central argument is that the cosmological shift from the system of the Shang and Zhou to the new Five Phases-centered framework of Han Dynasty was instigated not only by the intellectuals and religious functionaries but also by political players who were interested in changing the old power structure, reshaping the connection between man and the divine, and transforming the existing sociopolitical institutions. Wang's research draws on a variety of sources, such as oracle bone inscriptions, philosophical texts, official histories, and archaeological evidence. Convincingly argued and very well documented, this new study will appeal to students and scholars of Chinese history and culture.
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