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Burning of books and burying of scholars

Burning of the books and burying of the scholars () is a phrase that refers to a policy and a sequence of events in the Qin Dynasty of Ancient China, between the period of 213 and 206 BC. During these events, the Hundred Schools of Thought were pruned; legalism survived. One side effect was the marginalization of the thoughts of the school of Mozi and the survival of the thoughts of Confucius.

Contents


Book burning

According to the Records of the Grand Historian, after Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China, unified China in 221 BC, his chancellor Li Si suggested suppressing the intellectual discourse to unify all thoughts and political opinions. This was justified by accusations that the intelligentsia sang false praise and raised dissent through libel.

Beginning in 213 BC, all classic works of the Hundred Schools of Thought — except those from Li Si's own school of philosophy known as legalism — were subject to book burning.

Qin Shi Huang burned the other histories out of fear that they undermined his legitimacy, and wrote his own history books. Afterwards, Li Si took his place in this area.

Li Si proposed that all histories in the imperial archives except those written by the Qin historians be burned; that the Classic of Poetry, the Classic of History, and works by scholars of different schools be handed in to the local authorities for burning; that anyone discussing these two particular books be executed; that those using ancient examples to satirize contemporary politics be put to death, along with their families; that authorities who failed to report cases that came to their attention were equally guilty; and that those who had not burned the listed books within 30 days of the decree were to be banished to the north as convicts working on building the Great Wall. The only books to be spared in the destruction were books on war, medicine, agriculture and divination.[1]

Burial of the scholars

After being deceived by two alchemists while seeking prolonged life, Qin Shi Huangdi ordered more than 460 scholars in the capital to be buried alive in the second year of the proscription, though an account given by Wei Hong in the 2nd century added another 700 to the figure. As some of them were also Confucian scholars, Fusu counselled that, with the country newly unified, and enemies still not pacified, such a harsh measure imposed on those who respect Confucius would cause instability.[2] However, he was unable to change his father's mind, and instead was sent to guard the frontier in a de facto exile.

The quick fall of the Qin Dynasty was attributed to this proscription. Confucianism was revived in the Han Dynasty that followed, and became the official ideology of the Chinese imperial state. Many of the other schools had disappeared.

See also

  • A Step into the Past
  • Book burning
  • Burning of Jaffna library
  • Destruction of Four Olds
  • Destruction of Library of Alexandria
  • Literary Inquisition

References

External links

ko: it:Qin Shi Huang la:Crematio librorum et humatio eruditorum ja: pl:Palenie ksi g i grzebanie uczonych sh:Spaljivanje knjiga i pokapanje u enjaka tr:Kitap yak m ve bilginlerin g m lmesi vi: t s ch ch n nho zh-classical: zh:






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