Monday, September 22, 2008

Lu Ban

Lu Ban was a carpenter, philosopher, military thinker, stateman and contemporary of Mozi, born in the State of Lu.

His real name was Gongshu Ban , also known as the Master Gongshu , because he was from the State of Lu, he was most commonly referred to as Lu Ban from records. Lu Ban is well notable for his achievements after his subject to the State of Chu.

According to the tradition, he was responsible for several inventions as seen on ''Mozi'' chapter 49 and 50:

* Cloud ladder — a mobile counterweighted siege ladder.
* Grappling hooks and ram — boat implements used during on a naval warfare.
* Wooden bird — a non-powered flying wooden bird which could stay in the air for three days, and had been suggested to be a proto-kite.

There were also others inventions that contributed to him, such as lifting implement for burial, wooden horse carriage and coachman, and some other woodworking that can be see from various texts which thereafter led Lu Ban to be acknowledged as the master craftsman:

* The Book of Lineages , written in about 3rd century BC.
* The Tales of the Marvellous , written in about 5th century by Ren Fang.
* The Records of Origin on Things and Affairs , written in about 11th century by Gao Cheng.
* The Origin on Things , written in about 15th century by Luo Qi.
* The Treatise of Lu Ban , an attributed texts to Lu Ban written between to 15th century.

Liang Shuming

Liang Shuming , born Liang Huanding , courtesy name Shouming , was a reformer in the late Qing Dynasty and early eras of Chinese history.

Born in , Liang was the son of a famous intellectual who committed suicide apparently in despair at the state of the Chinese nation. He had a modern education and exposure to Western writings.

In 1917 he was recruited by Cai Yuanpei to the philosophy department of Beijing University, where he produced an influential book based on his lectures entitled ''Eastern and Western Cultures and their Philosophies'', which introduced some of the doctrines of modern neo-Confucianism. He also displayed the influence of Henri Bergson, then popular in China, as well as Buddhist Yogacara philosophy.

Regarding Western civilization as doomed to eventual failure, Liang did not advocate complete reform and adoption of Western institutions. He nonetheless believed that reform was needed to make China equal to the rest of the world. It was his view that the required prerequisites for these institutions did not exist in China, so they would not succeed if introduced. Instead, he pushed for change to socialism starting at the grassroots level. To this end, he founded the Shandong Rural Reconstruction Institute and helped to found the Democratic League.

Liang was famous for his critique of Marxist class theory, stating that, despite obvious disparities of wealth, Chinese rural society could not be unambiguously classified along class lines. One and the same family would commonly have some members among the "haves" and others among the "have-nots". The class struggle advocated by the Maoists would necessitate kinsmen attacking each other.

After the , he mediated disputes between the Communist and Nationalist parties. After the victory of the Communists in 1949, he was occasionally persecuted in ideological campaigns, but refused to admit any error. He died in Beijing

Li Zhi (Ming Dynasty)

Li Zhi was a prominent Chinese philosopher, historian and writer in the late Ming dynasty.


He was born in Jinjiang, Fujian province, the descendant of a woman from which his seven generation grand father married. He is also often referred to by his courtesy name Zhuowu .

His philosophy was based upon the Neo-Confucianism. Strongly disagreeing with assimilating oneself to conventional behavior, Li Zhi tried to spread his ideas. He can be seen as influenced Wang Yangming , and he preached a form of moral relativism. However, he was ultimately jailed for his attempt to spread "dangerous ideas". He committed suicide in prison in 1602.

Li Si

Li Si was the influential Prime Minister of the feudal state and later of the dynasty of , between 246 BC and 208 BC. A famous , he was also a notable calligrapher. Li Si served under two rulers: Qin Shi Huang, king of Qin and later First Emperor of China -- and his son, Qin Er Shi. A powerful minister, he was central to the state's policies, including those on military conquest, draconian centralization of state control, standardization of weights, measures and the written script, and persecution of Confucianism and opponents of Legalism. His methods of administration of China is seen by some as being an early form of totalitarianism.

Early Life

Li Si was originally from Shang Cai in the kingdom of . When he was young, he was a minor official in Chu. According to the ''Records of the Great Historian'', one day Li Si observed that rats in the restroom were dirty and hungry but the rats in the barnhouse were well fed. He suddenly realized that "the values of people are determined by their social status." He made up his mind to take up politics as his career, which was a common choice for scholars not from noble family during the Warring States Period. After having finished his education with the famous Confucian thinker Xun Zi, he moved to the most powerful state at that time - Qin and tried to advance his political career there.

Career in Qin

During his stay in the state of Qin, Li Si became a guest of the prime minister Lu Buwei and got the chance to talk to the ruler of Qin - Qin Shi Huang. Qin Shi Huang was impressed by Li Si's view of how to unify China. Having adopted Li Si's proposal, the ruler of Qin spent generously to lure intellects to the state of Qin and sent out assassins to kill important scholars in other states.

According to the ''Records of the Grand Historian'' , Li Si was responsible for the death of Han Fei. A minor prince in the state of Han, Han Fei was an excellent writer whose essays reached the attention of the king of Qin. When Qin made war on Han, Han Fei was dispatched as a diplomatic envoy to Qin. Li Si, who envied Han Fei's intellect, persuaded the Qin king that he could neither send Han Fei back nor employ him . As a result, Han Fei was imprisoned, and Li Si convinced him to commit suicide by poisoning.

According to Sima Qian, Li Si persuaded Qin Shi Huang to suppress intellectual dissent, and when Confucian scholars protested, 460 of them were buried alive. Li Si himself penned the edict in 214 BC which ordered widespread destruction of historical records and literature in 213 BC, including key Confucian texts, which he thought detrimental to the welfare of the state.


When Qin Shi Huang died while away from the capital, Li Si and the chief eunuch Zhao Gao suppressed the late emperor's choice of successor, caused the crown prince to commit suicide, and installed another prince, Qin Er Shi in his place. During the tumultuous aftermath, Zhao Gao convinced the new emperor to install his followers in official positions. When his power base was secure enough, Zhao Gao then had Li Si killed in 208 BC in a grisly manner -- being cut in half in public. Zhao Gao in turn was killed by Ziying in revenge for Gao's killing of Ziying's uncle Emperor Qin Er Shi.

Li Si is mentioned in Elias Canetti's novel: Auto-da-fe .


A staunch believer in a highly bureacratic system, Li Si is considered to have been central to the efficiency of the state of Qin and the success of its military conquest. He was also instrumental in systemizing standard measures and currency in post-unified China. He further helped systemize the written Chinese language by promulgating as the imperial standard the small seal script which had been in use in the state of Qin all along. In this process, variant graphs within the Qin script were proscribed, as were variant scripts from the different regions which had been conquered. Contrary to popular belief, though, Li Si did not "invent" small seal script.

Li Shicen

Li Shicen , born Li Bangfan , was a Chinese philosopher and of advanced philosophical journals of the May Fourth Movement ''Min Duo'' and ''Zhongguo Jiaoyu Zazhi'' . Li is best remembered as an exponent of the thought of Nietzsche, who was among the Western thinkers most influential in China in the early era.

Li Shicen belonged to circle of radical intellectuals and activists who emerged in Hunan in the early 20th century. Another was Mao Zedong. Li in fact had several contacts with Mao; as young men both wrote manuals on swimming, and Mao's later widely publicized exploit of swimming in the Yangtze River may be traced back to Li's inspiration.

Li produced a number of books and articles which are still read as expositions of Western philosophy, and are of value in understanding the reception of ideas in this era. ''Rensheng Zhexue'' was his longest published work. Li produced special issues of ''Min Duo'' devoted to a number of influential philosophers including Nietzsche, Bergson and Eucken. In the early 1920s, Li's circle of friends and acquaintances included Guo Moruo and Zhu Qianzhi.

Following a sojourn in Europe in the late 1920s, Li returned to China and announced that materialist dialectics was the "philosophy of the future." This conversion from neo-romanticism to Marxism was seen as a signal event at the time, and was a harbinger of many that were follow.

Prior to this he had been involved in scandal involving a female student. He published a ''Qingbian Wanzi Shu'' in response, and which expresses a neo-romantic philosophy typical of the era.

Li Shenzhi

Li Zhenzhi was a prominent Chinese social scientist and public intellectual. For long a trusted spokesperson of the Chinese Communist Party, he rose to become Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Dismissed from this position for blunt criticisms of the regime, he emerged in the 1990s as a powerful critic of authoritarianism, and a prominent exponent of Chinese liberalism.

His death in 2003, which had been preceded by a series of widely circulated professions of his liberal commitment, prompted an outpouring of adulatory writings, securing his posthumous status as a champion of intellectual freedom under difficult circumstances.

From 1941 to 1945 Li studied economics in Beijing , and Shanghai . In November 1944, he participated in the Communist Party's secret "National Salvation Association of Democratic Youth."

Formally joining the Party in 1948, he became international editor in chief and Deputy Director of the Xinhua News Agency and later served as Premier Zhou Enlai's diplomatic secretary. From late 1978 to early 1980, Li was a member of the International Issues Writing Group established by the Central Committee. Meanwhile, he accompanied party supremo Deng Xiaoping on his visit to the USA, serving as adviser to the delegation.

He was transferred to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 1980 to set up the United States Research Institute, of which he was appointed Director in 1982.

In 1985 he became a vice president CASS , retaining his directorship of the United States Research Institute.
He was dismissed in 1990 due to blunt criticisms of the June Fourth events in Tiananmen, and took medical retirement in 1995.

There has been controversy about Li's liberal-democratic credentials, focusing on his failure to completely break with the Communist Party. According to contemporary critics like Cao Changqing and Zhong Weiguang , he compares poorly with Eastern bloc liberals like Milovan ?ilas , or, in China, resolute non-collaborators like Chen Yinke and original, if tragically persecuted thinkers like Gu Zhun.

Xu Youyu responded to this view that conditions for Chinese intellectuals had been considerably harsher than for East Europeans like Djilas; to be fair, Li should be placed in comparison with other committed but "enlightened" communists like and Yu Guangyuan.

Li Kui (legalist)

Li Kui was an ancient Chinese government minister and court advisor to Marquis Wen of Wei in the state of . In 407 BC, he wrote the ''Book of Law'' , which was the basis for the codified laws of the and dynasties. It had a deep influence on state ministers of such as Shang Yang, who formulated the dogma and basis of the harsh Chinese philosophy of . Along with his contemporary Ximen Bao, he was given oversight in construction of canal and irrigation projects in the State of Wei.