2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Canonical Interpretations of ‘For Former Prince’: A Case Study of Confucian Hermeneutics and Political Order in Medieval China

Huai-chen Kan

Department of History, National Taiwan University

It is conceived that the interaction between political ideas, political actions and Confucian texts is complicated. The present essay cannot provide a comprehensive understanding about this subject. I would like to discuss a text, ‘for former prince,’ from Book of Etiquete and Decorum. I figure out how the Medieval Confucian agents understood its meaning, such as the classical prince-minister relationship, and how they used its linguistic symbols to construct their ideal political orders. By this case study, I would like to illustrate some features of Confucian political hermeneutics and their impacts on the political order.

This essay also argue that political ideas concerning the ideal type of Huang-di polity is not fixed and finalized in the philosophical works in the Warring-states age. Even the movement of Confucianism in the Western Han made the Confucian texts the holy canons, the political ideas about the Huang-di polity were still evolving, interacted with contemporary Confucian political discourses.


Keywords: Huang-di polity, Confucian hermeneutics, state cults, funeral costume, political order, prince-minister relationship, former prince, medieval China