War and Peace in Classical Chinese Thought. With Particular Regard to Chinese Religion
Gregor Paul, Karlsruhe University, Germany
Part 1: War and peace in Chinese classical thought: a general overview of the problem
"War and Peace" is a really "big" topic, to say the least. And designations like "classical China", "Chinese thought", and "Chinese religion(s)" refer to more than 1500 years of history (from about 1100 B.C. through 900 A.D.) in areas that sometimes even exceeded the extension of the Chinese People’s Republic. Also, such designations refer to large numbers of different philosophies and religions. This even applies, if one restricts – as I do – the reference of the term "classical thought" to ideas generated between 1100 and 221 B.C., and to the history of these ideas. Accordingly, I cannot but limit my discussion to those classic theories and practices which I regard as particularly relevant or significant for the history of war and peace in China. By "particularly relevant or significant" I mean theories and practices which (i) exemplify more or less general features of Chinese approaches to questions of war and peace, and which (ii) were of great historical influence. As to the first point (i), I hold that most theories and practices, especially most arguments and decisions in favor of peace, were determined by the following convictions:
(a) war is utterly evil and ought be only resorted to if indeed unavoidable,
(b) peace – and also order and welfare – is more important than realization of truth, and
(c) (thisworldly) governmental power is the highest power that exists. In other words, there exists no power superior to governmental power, especially no transcendent power like a god.
I further hold that most arguments and decisions in favor of war were determined
(a) by the wish to gain, strengthen or defend (political) power,
(b) by other personal motives as for instance feelings of revenge,
(c) by the wish to topple an inhumane, or cruel, government,
(d) by the wish to free oneself from an unbearable situation, as for instance the threat of starvation.
As to the second point (ii), the question of historical impact, I hold that the theories and historical developments characterized by the listed features, also proved most influential in Chinese history.
What I have said so far, could be considered the guiding hypotheses of my following deliberations. In providing examples and explanations, in discussing some possible counter-arguments to my views, and in speculating about possible consequences of the addressed Chinese theories and practices of war and peace, I try to substantiate these hypotheses, and – finally – to suggest some solutions to the problem of religious war.
2 Arguments and decisions in favor of peace
2.1 The argument that war is utterly evil and ought only be resorted to if indeed unavoidable
Let me begin with the beginning, or at least with what was the beginning of explicit theory of war and peace. This was the attempt to justify the wars of the Zhou against the Shang which took place in the 11th century B.C. The Shijing, "The Classic of Songs," and the Shujing, "The Classic of Documents," explain, and justify, these wars as the only means to do away with the cruel and despotic reign of the Shang, and they point out that such inhumane rule ought to be done away with. On a general level, they argue that it is only humane government that receives, possesses, or can claim, tianming, the "mandate of heaven." Put in our words, this means that a government is legitimate then and only then when it is humane government. Of course, the word "humane" needs qualification. I shall come back to this below. People subjected to inhumane rule have the right, and are ultimately even obliged, to go against it. In a first step, however, they ought use peaceful means, especially criticism, to achieve a change. Only after having exhausted all peaceful means, they are allowed to resort to force. This notion of justified tyrannicide and revolution is also alluded to in the Lunyu, the "Analects [of Confucius]." It is then expressly formulated, and emphasized, in the other two Confucian classics Mencius and Xunzi which go back to the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. respectively, and in many other so-called Confucian writings.
However, what might be called the tianming theory of legitimate rule and revolution does not deal extensively, or in detail, with the horrors of war though it leaves not doubt that war must only be the last result. The tianming theory rather focuses on the question whether, and because of which reasons, it is justified to use force against one’s own ruler. I shall come back to this topic too.
After the Zhou had toppled the Shang, they nominally reigned till 221 B.C., but actually lost power already in the 8th century B.C. Sovereign local states emerged that fought for supremacy. Eventually war became so ubiquitous, continuous, and intense that the era from 475 to 221 B.C. received the name zhangguo, "Epoche of the Warring States." It was scholars of this era who developed elaborate and detailed theories of war and peace. A certain group even became known as bingjia, "School of War." Its most famous representative, often mistakenly called its founder, was Sunzi (5th century BC.), "Master Sun." Attributed to him is what is probably the most renowned and most influential treatise on war ever written, namely the Sunzi bingfa, "Sunzi’s (4th century B.C.) Art of War." This treatise influenced numerous Chinese scholars, politicians, and military leaders, including Mao Zedong.
What impresses me most with the treatise is, however, not its uncompromising advice regarding the question of how to lead and win a war, but its disgust for war. In other words, the Sunzi bingfa makes it very clear that war is utterly evil, and should be avoided. But if a war must be led, and if one wants to win the war, than one must not shrink from resorting to immoral means to succeed. To quote some crucial passages:
If one is not fully cognizant of the evils of waging war, he cannot be fully cognizant either of how to turn it to best account.
To win a hundred victories in a hundred battles is not the highest excellence; the highest excellence is to subdue the enemy’s army without fighting at all.
[But also:] Warfare is a way (dao) of deceit.
Another Chinese treatise about war that also dates back to the Epoch of the Warring States, the Sun Bin bingfa, "Sun Bin’s Art of War," even states:
Abhorrence of war is the highest military principle.
A distaste for war is the most basic principle of the True King.
Between heaven and earth there is nothing more valuable than man.
[This being the case: ] You must go to war only if there is no alternative.
These two treatises, and other writings of the bingjia, indicate what probably was the fundamental Chinese stand towards war till the beginnings of the 20th century. Confronted with the situation of the Warring States, and realizing that it was probably impossible to completely do away with war as a means of gaining and securing power, the bingjia in a certain sense resigned, and tried to develop theories that could at least reduce the interest in waging war as far as possible, and that could minimize its evils. Their views prevailed. Mohists and so-called Confucians put more emphasis on questions of morality, and argued that at least aggressive, offensive and invasive wars are unacceptable and must be avoided at all costs, but their arguments almost never played a dominant role in actual Chinese political history. In spite of that, these arguments were much admired and perhaps best testify to the fact that traditional Chinese culture neither celebrated nor glorified war, and that in it, "military heroism [was] a rather undeveloped idea."
In my view most important, however, is the originality, rationality and validity of the Mohist and Confucian arguments. Mozi (468?-376? B.C.) is credited with the following famous statement:
If a man kills an innocent man, steals his clothing and his spear and sword, his offence is graver than breaking into a stable and stealing an ox or a horse. The injury is greater, the offense is graver, and the crime of a higher degree. Any man of sense knows that it is wrong, knows that it is unrighteous. But when murder is committed in attacking a country it is not considered wrong; it is applauded and called righteous. Can this be considered as knowing what is righteous and what is unrighteous? When one man kills another man it is considered unrighteous and he is punished by death. Then by the same sign when a man kills ten others, his crime will be ten times greater, and should be punished by death ten times. … If a man calls black black if it is seen on a small scale, but calls black white when it is seen on a large scale, then he is one who cannot tell black from white … Similarly if a small crime is considered crime, but a big crime such as attacking another country is applauded as a righteous act, can this be said to be knowing the difference between righteous and unrighteous?
In this argument against war, Mozi appeals to logic, to common sense, general human experience, the general moral law to respect human life, and he points to the unacceptability of double standards. Implicitly, he also questions the idea of "might makes right." This, and the honesty and verve of his views, make his argument a very impressive plea for peace.
The Xunzi, attributed to the Confucian philosopher Xunzi (313?-238? B.C.), includes a chapter entitled "Debate on the Principles of Warfare." Concurring with the Mozi, its main point is that there must be no aggressive and invasive war. "In the rule of a True King there are punitive expeditions but no warfare." Arguing against the pragmatism of the bingjia, the Xunzi tries to show that this pragmatism is not only inhumane, but also short-sighted. Even in war and in preparing for war, in the long run, following principles of humaneness (ren) and honesty (xin), would prove more efficient than trying to succeed by means of deception, terror and fright, and paying soldiers the highest prices.
2.2 The argument that peace – and also order and welfare – is more important than realization of truth
The conviction that peace is more important than realization of truth further strengthened the traditional Chinese aversion against war. This conviction lies at the bottom of, and pervades most, if not all, philosophical classics, particularly the so-called Confucian writings Lunyu, Mencius, and Xunzi, the Mohist writings, the Daoist Daode jing and Zhuangzi, and the Legalist Shangjun shu and Han Feizi, the books of Lord Shang (390-338 B.C.) and of Master Han Fei (280-233 B.C.) respectively. While pope Pius XII. maintained that what is not true in religion has no objective right to exist, I do not know of any similar statement from a Chinese scholar or religious leader. This is not to say that Chinese philosophers did not value, or that they even discarded, truth. But their highest goal was not realization of truth but (except for the Legalists) realization of humaneness and welfare, and as everybody knows, humaneness and welfare are often more effienctly realized by, e.g., telling, or sticking to, lies than by conveying, insisting on or even forcing, truth. Since, because of the experience of the Epoch of the Warring States, Chinese philosophers regarded peace as an almost necessary condition of humaneness and welfare, they had also to consider it more important than truth.
The Legalists rather aimed at realizing ideas of centralized, absolute, and totalitarian power, but precisely because of this goal they too regarded peace as a conditio sine qua non. The lesson the Legalists learned, or drew, from the Epoch of the Warring States was that a ruler, or government, must not permit for contending opinions. According to their judgement, contending opinions led to socio-political disunity and ultimately to war, and thus endangered the position of the ruler. Hence they argued for the enforcement of peace, though it might be the kind of peace called in German "Friedhofsruhe", i.e., the peace of a graveyard.
Evidently, the classic Chinese views on peace and truth also worked against the force of religious truth.
2.3 The argument that governmental power is the highest power that exists
The argument that governmental power is the highest power that exists is closely related to the traditional Chinese interest in peace (rather than truth). First of all, Chinese elites almost never believed in transcendent entities. In particular, they did not believe in mighty gods, or in an afterlife. Of course, there were exceptions, especially with regard to some followers of popular Daoist and Huang-Lao religions, and certain Buddhist religions. I shall discuss them when I turn to the arguments and decisions in favor of war. The Lunyu takes an agnostic stand. It further demythologizes the concept of tian, which in some passages of the Shijing and Shujing is still used for referring to a kind of god. In the Mencius, the notion of tian still carries numinous connotations, but its numinosity does not indicate a transcendent entity, and in this sense remains unimportant. The Xunzi is expressly atheistic. And the Legalist Shangjun shu and Han Feizi are also atheistic. The Mohists maintained that there exist gods and ghosts but they did this perhaps because of pragmatic considerations. In their view, morality ought to be based on, or at least supported by, a belief in a god, i. e., tian. However, it was the agnostic and atheist line of thought that prevailed among the elites from Qin times through the 21st century of Communist China. Neither the average scholar-bureaucrat nor the average Communist cadre believed, or believe, in a god one should or could rely on, or in an afterlife. This might explain why the idea that in order to rule correctly, or to lead one’s life correctly, one could, or even ought, refer to an otherwordly instance, was at best regarded as awkward, and at worst as dangerous. For how could one refer to something that probably did not exist, or that if it existed could not be known, in order to decide what one ought do here and now? How could one refer to such a thing in order to go against one’s own government or fellow beings and cause and justify strife and uprisings? The underlying argument was that reliance on transcendent entities would permit, and even further, moral and political wantonness and willfulness. Accordingly, from Qin times (221- 207 B.C.) through 21st Communist China, with only few exceptions, Chinese government was secular, and whenever this secularity was seriously threatened by a religious movement, the state reacted by forcibly suppressing or at least containing this movement.
For example, it was mainly because the then rulers were afraid that Buddhism could become a state within the state that Buddhism was persecuted in 446, 557, and 845, though such fear was of course only one motive among others. The persecution of 446 (which took place in the empire of the Northern Wei, 386-534) was also caused by a Daoist official’s ambition "to make Daoism the supreme faith of the land," i.e., by what could be called a religious interest, and by the Confucian chancellor’s xenophobia against the foreign Indian teaching. But to realize their goals, these two officials had to convince their emperor that Buddhism posed a threat to (his) state power. The persecution of 574 occurred during the reign of the Northern Zhou (557-581), and besides the question of political power, controversies between Daoism and Buddhism, and a certain xenophobia were again instrumental in bringing it about. The emperor’s respective decree, however, did not only proscribe Buddhism, but also Daoism. While the persecutions of 446 and 557 were limited to the Northern parts of the Chinese world, the third persecution affected the whole Chinese realm, and marked the "beginning of the decline" of Buddhist influence on state power. For the Tang dynasty (618-907), the persecution was also a means to improve its desparate economic situation.
3 Arguments and decisions in favour of war
3.1 War as a means to gain, strengthen or defend (political) power, especially state power
This leads me to the arguments and decisions in favor of war. In China, as probably always and everywhere, each war was a struggle for power, notwithstanding other reasons and aims. The most significant examples for wars mainly led because of what could aptly be called a "lust for power" were the wars of the Warring States, particularly the wars led by the state of Qin and the unifier and First Emperor of China, Qin Shihuang Di (?-210 B.C.); the aggressive and expansive wars led by Han Wu Di (157-87 B.C.), the "martial emperor" of the Han; the wars at the end of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.); and finally the civil wars in the 20th century. As indicated, there were also wars motivated by the aim to strengthen, or defend, state power, particularly campeigns against religious movements.
I have already mentioned the forcible suppression of Buddhism. The state had indeed reason to fear the Buddhist orders. Its members owned huge territories, had accumulated much wealth, and did not pay taxes. Hence, they continuously attracted more and more people. Contrary to the "Confucian" minded scholar-officials, many Buddhists believed in its religious rather than its philosophical traditions and teachings, i. e., in gods, in simple notions of karma and rebirth, in an afterlife in Buddhist paradises, and so on. Accordingly, some Buddhists were indeed inclined to range Buddhist norms, and reliance on Buddhist supernatural beings, above earthly (thisworldly) government. Some of the most illustrative examples of state campaigns against religious movements motivated by the fear that its power was threatened by anti-secular interests and tendencies are provided by the history of so-called Daoist or, perhaps more precisely, Huang-Dao sects, especially the Yellow Turban, the Five Pecks of Grain, and the Tai Ping movements.
The Yellow Turbans and the Five Pecks of Grain sect developed during the turmoil of the last decades of the Han dynasty, and the two sects’ rebellions, and the civil wars they caused, were among the forces that led to its downfall. Both religious movements shared similar beliefs, but probably developed independently from each other. Both believed in a deified Laozi, and both were convinced that illness resulted from sins. To secure, or regain, one’s health, one had to publicly confess one’ evil doings, and do good deeds. Also, the leading figures were thought to possess magical powers. Among other things, both teachings relied on respective scriptures which were conceived of as heavenly revelations. The Yellow Turbans further believed that with the begin of the new calendaric cycle of 60 years in the year 184, the Han dynasty would come to its end. The rule of the wood element and of "green heaven" would be overcome by the power of the earth element and "yellow heaven." Hence the adherents of the sect wore yellow turbans. The generally influential notion of the mandate of heaven (tianming) as a notion of legitimate government and its due changes, also contributed to the conviction that the Han government should be ousted, for it was – rightly – blamed for the political turmoil, the insecurity, and the dire needs of large portions of the people, especically the peasants. The highest leader of the Yellow Turbans, Zhang Jie (2nd half of the 2nd century), styled himself "General of Heaven." In sum, it was belief in (i) otherwordly, or supernatural, beings and powers, (ii) in numerology, (iii) in the doctrines of the Five Elements (wuxing), (iv) in the notion of tianming, but also (v) dissatisfaction with, and suffering from, the socio-political situation that led the Yellow Turbans into rebellion and civil war. Calling their teaching taiping dao, the "Way of Great Peace," their leaders promised to bring back to the people peace and welfare. It testifies to the enduring influence of the Yellow Turban’s aims that, in the 19th century, the taiping revolutionaries adopted the name and goal of "Great Peace." However, by about 205, the Yellow Turbans, in brutal warfare, were defeated.
While the Yellow Turbans were active in Eastern China, particularly the area that finally became Shandong, the Five Pecks of Grain sect (wudou midao) was active in Western China, particularly the area of Sichuan. Its popular name is derived from the sect’s prescription according to which its members had to donate to the community each year a certain amount of grain. The name the sect had given itself was tianshi dao, "Way of the Master of Heaven," and its leader was called "Master of Heaven." The general reasons for the development of the movement and for its rebellion against the Han were the same as in the case of the Yellow Turbans. The movement succeeded in establishing its own state (within the state), though in 215 it surrendered to the warlord Cao Cao (died 220), the actual founder of the Wei dynasty (220-265) – and the man who wrote the most famous commentary of the Sunzi bingfa. The "Way of the Master of Heaven" still exists, with its present "Master" residing in Taiwan.
3.2 War as a means to realize personal interests such as feelings of revenge
As most of us know, and as might have become evident again from what I have said thus far about war in Chinese civilisation, reasons for engaging in war, and especially for initiating a war, are numerous and complex. In some cases, even thirst for personal revenge plays a role. Accordingly, theory has to account for such possibilities too. Even bingjia treatises advice military leaders to treat their enemies and prisoners as humanely as possible, so as to win them over, and not to favour hate and plans of revenge. The Confucian Xunzi emphasizes this approach. However, there is also what could be called a classic theorem that warns against showing to much humaneness and leniency towards a defeated enemy. As I see it, this theorem goes back to Wu Zixu (-485 B.C.), an adviser of Fu Chai, the king of the state of Wu. Wu Zixu had warned his king who had defeated and taken prisoner the king of the neighbouring state Yue against treating his enemy too friendly, but was rebuked for that, and finally forced to commit suicide. The defeated king feigned thankfulness and even devotion to his successful rival, while actually harbouring ideas of revenge. Eventually released, he returned to his own country, and later used the first opportunity to take revenge, completely destroying the state, and driving Fu Chai into committing suicide.
3.3 War as a means, and just instrument, to topple an inhumane, or cruel, government
As indicated above, up till today, the 21st century, there has been only one Chinese theory justifying war that was rarely disputed, namely the tianming theory of justified tyrannicide, revolution, and civil war. To be sure, some emperors, officials, and scholars argued in favour of absolute, totalitarian power and absolute, blind loyalty. In their view, people should serve their superiors by what in German is called "Kadavergehorsam," i.e., obedience of a corpse, unconditional and slavish obedience, but this was certainly not the classic position. Even the Legalists argued against such kind of total submission, pointing out that, in some circumstances, a ruler ought permit for honest criticism.
In its very early stages the tianming doctrine implied reference to Heaven as a personal deity, but latest by about 500 B.C. tianming had become a designation for something like universally valid moral rules.
To be granted, and be in possession of, the mandate of heaven (tianming), meant to rule humanely and justly, and thus legitimately. This applied independent from whether tian was understood as referring to a (personal) deity, or whether it was taken as a metaphorical reference to universally valid moral norms. In the first case, to be in possession of the heavenly mandate, implied acceptance and execution of a divine decree. In the second case, it meant that a sovereign or government possessed the superior moral integrity and political capability regarded necessary and sufficient for humane and just rulership. The Xunzi sums this up by stating: "Whether a man is a son of heaven (tianzi) solely depends on what kind of man he is (i.e., depends on his character and abilities)."
By humane and just government, the Lunyu, Mencius, and Xunzi meant a government that cared for its people, e.g., protecting their lifes, providing them with sufficient food and water, and preventing them from humiliation, cruelty, and other kinds of suffering. To achieve this, peace was considered a necessary condition. To realize peace, in turn, stable hierarchical social order was regarded a necessary prerequisite. The Xunzi puts forward an eleborate theory of such an order. It says that each person’s place in society and state should be determined by his or her integrity and ability, thus arguing for a strict and just application of principles of merit. to avoid or minimize dissatisfaction and resulting unrest, the Xunzi demands that the privileged, especially the sovereign and the officials, lived exemplary lifes. Also, to further secure stable hierarchical order, the Xunzi advocates education, self-cultivation, and – perhaps most important – an aestheticization of morality.
To sum up, according to Lunyu, Mencius, and Xunzi, humane and just government presuppose peace, which in turn requires stable hierarchical order. Thus, the Lunyu, Mencius, and Xunzi include a theory of peace which amounts to a theory of hierarchical social order.
Except for Daoism, all classical Chinese schools of thought shared the conviction that peace presupposed stable hierarchical order. One should be aware of this, if one tries to understand Chinese rulers’ and governments’ abhorrence of socio-political disorder, their respective mistrust, and their often harsh suppression of those movements which they viewed as potential sources of unrest. As indicated, the Legalists went much further than the so-called Confucians, advocating a kind of order that could be compared to the peace of grave yards. The Tianan men massacre in June 1989, and the prescription of the Falun Gong sect must also be judged in the context of the classic Chinese theories of peace and social order.
As stated above, the tianming doctrine not only justified, but even demanded tyrannicide, rebellion, and civil war, if there were no other means for changing cruel, inhumane politics. By logical inversion, this implied that such violence must not be used against a sovereign or government who defended hierarchical order. Thus, in Chinese thought, an egalitarian society was almost never honestly regarded as a legitimate political goal. It was rather viewed as a notion, and source, of possible socio-political instability and ultimately civil war. Actually, it is not easy to criticize this position, for the utopia of an egalitarian and stateless society simply can not be realized. Societies need organization, and organization implies unequal distribution of power.
3.4 War as a means, and just instrument, to free oneself from an unbearable situation, as for instance the threat of starvation
Perhaps the classical Chinese doctrines of order as a necessary prerequisite for peace contributed to the longer phases of relative domestic peace that the Chinese enjoyed during the first halves of the Han, Tang (618-709), Song (960-1279) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. But to leave no doubt, these phases were also times of rather strict social order, and like other epochs in Chinese history not completely free from social upheavals, especially peasant uprisings. As indicated, the Yellow Turbans and Five Pecks of Grain sect rebellions were, among other things, also peasant uprisings.
Among the Chinese people, the peasants suffered most in Chinese history. Often, they had to pay enormous taxes, and were again and again recruited for forced labour and military service. On the brink of starvation, they had to sell themselves or their children to great landowners or rich nobles. As a matter of consequence, intelligent rebels found in the peasants willing instruments to realize their schemes of civil war. To justify their goal to topple a ruler or government, they, too, could conveniently resort to the tianming doctrine, and often did, though sometimes overstretching it.
3.5 Classical Chinese summaries of classical Chinese thought about war and peace
Chinese thinkers were well aware that one should distinguish between different kinds of war and peace. As indicated, the generally shared, and most fundamental, distinction was between unrighteous and righteous war (yibing), though specific notions of what ought be regarded as "righteous" differed. Also, except for the Daoists, Chinese thinkers were convinced that to avoid war, hierarchical socio-political order must be upheld, though their notions of such an order differed too. Most important perhaps were disagreements regarding the acceptability of aggressive war and totalitarian order. Whereas the so-called Confucians and the Mohists rejected aggressive war, the bingjia and the Legalists, but also some syncretist schools approved of certain kinds of it. While the Confucians advocated an aesthetical and harmonious order, especially the Legalists rather favoured strict, if not totalitarian order.
To quote two systematic summaries, I cite from the Wuzi bingfa, "Wuzi’s Art (430?-381 B.C.) of War," another outstanding bingjia treatise, and from a Huang Lao text (from the 4th or 3rd century B.C.?).
There are five matters which give rise to military operations. First, the struggle for fame; second, the struggle for advantage; third, the accumulation of animosity; fourth, internal disorder; and fifth, famine.
There are also five categories of war. First, righteous war (yibing); second, aggressive war; third, enraged war; forth, wanton war; and fifth insurgent war. Wars to suppress violence and quell disorder are righteous. Those which defend on force are aggressive. When troops are raised because rulers are actuated by anger, this is enraged war. Those in which all propriety is discarded because of greed are wanton wars. Those who, when the state is in disorder and the people exhausted, stir up trouble and agitate the multitude, cause insurgent wars.
There is a suitable method for dealing with each: a righteous war must be forestalled by proper government; an aggressive war by humbling one’s self; an enraged war by reason; a wanton war by deception and treachery; and an insurgent war by authority.
The Dao of warfare [bingdao] of the present generation are three: there are those who act for profit; those who act out of righteousness [yi]; and those who act out of anger.
Some bingjia thinkers also provided an anthropological explanation for war. They pointed out that war is but a particular kind of natural aggression, contest, strife and struggle and thus inevitable. In other words, they considered war a function of human nature, and they regarded it as justified, or even righteous (yibing), if it, roughly put, increased humaneness, did away with socio-political disorder, or punished evil doers, thus at least implicitly justifying aggressive war too. The Sun Bin bingfa, for example, voiced these convictions. Other classics, especially the Lüshi chunqiu, "The Spring and Autumn [Annals] of Lü Buwei [3rd century B. C.]," and the Huai Nan Zi, "[The Book] of the Lord of Huai Nan [2nd century B.C.]," reiterated and stressed such views. Their statements, made from a mainly bingjia, Legalist, and perhaps Huang Lao perspective, but not completely neglecting the Mohist and Confucian positions, also constitute a kind of historical sum total of the classical discourses, and hence deserve extensive quotation.
The sage kings of old used their warriors for righteous purposes, but did not abolish the warrior class. The origins of the warrior class are deeply rooted in the nature of man. There have been warriors since there have been men … The art of war cannot be abolished, and armament cannot be terminated …
The beginnings of fight date far back. Fight cannot be forbidden nor (can it be) precluded. Hence, the sage kings of old used their warriors for righteous purposes, but did not abolish the warrior class …
When, in a state, there is neither punishment nor penance, it becomes clear right away that the people oppress and cheat each other. When, in the world, there is neither war nor punitive expeditions, it becomes clear right away that the feudal lords (the rulers of the different states in the world) threaten each other. …
(Sometimes) it happens that people are suffocated by eating. But, because of this, to forbid eating, would be foolish … (Sometimes) it happens that rulers loose their states because of their use of warriors. But, because of this, to abolish the warrior class, would be foolish …
It is similar to the use of medicine. Good medicine saves human life. Bad medicine kills human life. Also, the military, when used for righteous purposes, is good medicine …
There is no single moment in which man is free from thinking about war …
Those persons who nowadays noisily speak of abolishing the military use their whole life to fight the military, without being aware of their self-contradiction …
Hence, about a truly righteous war that destroys the oppressors and frees the oppressed peoples, man are happy …
For everybody who wants to become the leader of men, the most important task is to honour those who keep order, to eliminate (or deprive of their influence?) those who create disorder, to reward those who fulfill their obligations, and to punish those who do not fulfill their obligations.
Among the scholars of today, it is widespread to disapprove of aggressive war. Whereas they disapprove of aggressive war, they approve of defensive war. However, would one restrict oneself to defensive war, it would be impossible to consistently honour those who keep order, to eliminate (or deprive of their influence?) those who create disorder, to reward those who fulfill their obligations, and to punish those who do not fulfill their obligations. …
The weal and woe of the rulers and peoples on earth depends on understanding these words.
Weapons are the instruments of unhappiness …, bravery is the disastrous virtue … To use the instruments of unhappiness and to execute the disastrous virtue, (this) needs a reason which excludes that one can act differently. When using the instruments of unhappiness, one must kill. But one ought kill (only) to save the lives of many men …
4 Résumé and outlook: war and religion
As I tried to show, in China, religious beliefs or religious zeal were never, or almost never, decisive, when it came to the question of war and peace. In more than 3000 years of Chinese history, there were no religious wars, as they occurred in Judeo, Muslim, Christian, and Hindu history. In particular, there occurred no aggressive, or missionary, religious wars. Of course, since reasons for wars are numerous and complex, religious motives sometimes played a role in Chinese civil wars. In particular, they were among the causes that led to the rebellions of the so-called Daoist and Huang Lao sects, though, e.g., dissatisfaction with socio-political conditions was certainly a more important cause. The main reasons for this insignificance of religious thought with regard to war and peace are the classic Chinese convictions that (i) peace is more important than realizing truth, and that (ii) the state, or government, power must be supreme, and, as matter of consequence, must also rule over religious interest and influence. Or in other words, according to classic Chinese thought, supreme power must be secular. The basic conviction that men should resort to war only if (iii) they ought to do away with a cruel, inhumane rule, and if (iv) they had already exhausted all possible peaceful means for achieving this goal, further reduced the possibility for religious war. In Chinese history, religious freedom has always been restricted – as it is actually also the case in the so-called Western democracies of the 21st century. One could even say, that latest from Tang times, religious communities were subjected to an institutionalized legal code, contrary to the "Confucian" suspicion against the notion of a rule by law.
Works cited or mentioned
Ames, Roger: Sun-Tzu: The Art of Warfare. [Chinese and English.] Translated, with an introduction and commentary, by Roger Ames. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993.
Bokenkamp, Stephen R.: Early Daoist Scriptures, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Ch’en, Kenneth: Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.
Cleary, Thomas (ed. and trans.): Mastering the Art of War: Zhuge Liang’s and Liu Ji’s commentaries on the classic by Sun Tzu, Boston & London: Shambala, 1989.
Blakney, R.B., und LIN Yu-tang: The Sayings of Lao Tzu. Chinesisch und Englisch. Taipei: Confucius Publishing Co. 1971.
Five Lost Classics: Tao, Huang-Lao, and Yin-Yang in Han-China. [Chinese and English.] Translated, with an Introduction and Commentary by Robin D. S. Yates, New York: Ballentine Books, 1997.
Franke, Otto: Geschichte des chinesischen Reiches, 5 vols., 2nd ed., Berlin, New York: De Gruyter 2001.
Gawlikowski, Krzysztof: "Drei Ansätze des klassischen chinesischen Denkens zu den Themen Krieg und Kampf." In: Silke Krieger und Rolf Trauzettel (eds.): Konfuzianismus und die Modernisierung Chinas, Mainz: Hase & Koehler, 1990, pp. 451-458.
Liao, K.: Han Fei-tzu. 2 vols., London 1959.
Huai Nan Zi. „Book of the Lord of Huai Nan."
Ames, Roger T.: The Art of Rulership. A Study in Ancient Chinese Political Thought, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1983.
Leary, Thomas (trans.): The Book of Leadership and Strategy: Lessons of the Chinese Masters from Huai-Nan, Shambala Publications, 1992.
Le Blanc, Charles: Huai Nan Tzu [Zi] : Philosophical Synthesis in Early Han Thought, Hong Kong : Hong Kong University Press, 1985.
Morgan, Evan: Tao, the Great Luminant: Essays from the Huai-nan-tzu. Shanghai: Kelly and Walsh, 1933. Taipei reprint: Ch’eng-wen Publishing Co., 1966, with translations of Huai Nan Zi 1, 2, 7, 8, 12, 13, 15 and 19.
Lübbe, Hermann: Religion nach der Aufklärung, Graz, Wien, Köln, 1986.
Brooks, E. Bruce, und A. Takeo Brooks: The Original Analects. Sayings of Confucius and his Successors. New York: Columbia University Press 1998.
Lau, D.C.: Confucius: The Analects. Chinesisch und Englisch. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2. Aufl. 1992.
Legge, James: Confucian Analects. The Chinese Classics. Chinesisch und Englisch. Vol I., Taipei: SMC Reprint 1983, S. vii-354. Nach wie vor unentbehrlich.
Waley, Arthur: The Analects of Confucius. London 1938.
Frühling und Herbst des Lü Bu Wei. Aus dem Chinesischen übertragen und herausgegeben von [trans. and ed. by]Richard Wilhelm. Düsseldorf, Köln: Diederichs, 1979.
Lau, D. C.: Mencius. Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics 1970.
Legge, James: The Works of Mencius. In: The Chinese Classics.Chinesisch und Englisch. Vol. II, Taipei: SMC Reprint 1983.
Graham, A.C.: Later Mohist Logic, Ethics and Science, Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press 1978.
Mei, Yi-pao: The Works of Motze. Chinesisch und Englisch. Taipei: Confucius Publishing Co. 1977.
Paul, Gregor: Aspects of Confucianism, Frankfurt am Main, New York: Lang, 1990.
Paul, Gregor: Konfuzius, Freiburg: Herder, 2001.
Pines, Yuri: Foundations of Confucian Thought: Intellectual Life in the Chunqiu Period, 722-453 B.C.E., Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002.
Seidel, Anna K.: La Divinisation de Lao Tseu dans le Taoisme de Han. Publications de l’ École Française d’Extrême-Orient vol. 71. Paris: École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 1969.
Duyvendak, J.J.L.: The Book of Lord Shang, San Francisco, Nachdruck 1974.
Legge, James: The She King or The Book of Poetry. Chinesisch und Englisch. The Chinese Classics IV. Taipei: SMC Reprint 1983.
Legge, James: The Shoo King. Chinesisch und Englisch. The Chinese Classics III, Taipei: SMC Reprint 1983.
Strätz, Volker: Luh-T’ao: Ein spätantiker Text zur Kriegskunst, Bad Honnef: Bock + Herchen, 1979.
Sun Bin. Sun Zi über die Kriegskunst. Sun Bin über die Kriegskunst. [Chinese and German.] Trans. into German by Zhong Yingjie, Beijing: Verlag Volkschina, 1994.
Sun Pin: The Art of Warfare. A Recently Discovered Classic. Translated, With an Introduction and Commentary, by D. C. Lau and Roger T. Ames, New York: Ballantine Books 1996. Also in paperback, New York: SUNY.
State University of New York Press (1. März 2003)
Taschenbuch / Sprache Englisch
Sunzi. Griffith, Samuel B. (trans. and comm.): Sun Tzu: The Art of War, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963. See also Ames.
The Cambridge History of China. Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, 1987.
The Cambridge History of China. Vol. 3. Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Wuzi bingfa. "Wuzi’s ‘Art of War.’" Translated by Samuel B. Griffith. In: Griffith, Samuel B. (trans. and comm.): Sun Tzu: The Art of War, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963, pp. 150-168.
Dubs, Homer: The Works of Hsuntze (Chinesisch und Englisch). Taipei: Confucius Publishing Co. 1973.
Knoblock, John: Xunzi. A Translation and Study of the Complete Works. 3 Vols. Stanford: Stanford University Press 1988ff.
Graham, A.C.: Chuang Tzu: The Inner Chapters. London: George Allen 1981.
Ware, James R.: The Sayings of Chuang Tzu. Chinesisch und Englisch. Taipei: Confucius Publishing Co. 1971.
Some other relevant titles of interest
Feng shen yan yi. "Creations of the Gods." Translated by Gu Zhizhong. 2 vols., Beijing: New World Press, 1992.
Kaltenmark, Max: "The Ideology pf the T’ai-p’ing ching." In: Holmes Welch and Anna Seidel (eds.): Facets of Taoism: Essays in Chinese Religion. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979, pp. 19-52.
Sanguo. "Three Kingdoms." A Historical Novel. Attributed to Luo Guangzhong. Translated from the Chinese with Afterword and Notes by Moss Roberts. 3. vols., Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1994.
Shui hu zhuan. "Outlaws of the Marsh." By Shi Nai’an and Luo Guanzhong. Translated by Sidney Shapiro. 3 vols., Beijing: Foreign Languages Press 1980.
Zhanguo ci. "Intrigues of the Warring States." Chan-kuo Ts’e. Translated and Annotated and with an Introduction by J. I. crump. Revised Edition. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan, 1996.