The Emergence of Civilizational Consciousness in Early China: History Word by Word, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Emergence of Civilizational Consciousness in Early China

History Word by Word, 1st Edition

By Uffe Bergeton

Routledge

229 pages | 26 B/W Illus.

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Description

This book provides a conceptual history of the emergence of civilizational consciousness in early China. Focusing on how words are used in pre-Qín (before 221 BCE) texts to construct identities and negotiate relationships between a 'civilised self' and 'uncivilised others', it provides a re-examination of the origins and development of these ideas.

By adopting a novel approach to determining when civilizational consciousness emerged in pre-Qín China, this book analyzes this question in ways that establish a fresh hermeneutical dialogue between Chinese and modern European understandings of 'civilization.' Whereas previous studies have used archaeological data to place its origin somewhere between 3000 BCE and 1000 BCE, this book explores changes in word meanings in texts from the pre-Qín period to reject this view. Instead, this book dates the emergence of civilizational consciousness in China to around 2,500 years ago. In the process, new chronologies of the coining of Old Chinese terms such as ‘customs,’ ‘barbarians,’ and ‘the Great ones,’ are proposed, which challenge anachronistic assumptions about these terms in earlier studies.

Examining important Chinese classics, such as the Analects, the Mencius and the Mòzi, as well as key historical periods and figures in the context of the concept of ‘civilization,’ this book will useful to students and scholars of Chinese and Asian history.

Table of Contents

Introduction

1. The Coining of Civilizational Consciousness in Modern Western Europe

2. From ‘Awe-Inspiringly Beautiful’ to ‘Morally Refined’— The Coining of ‘Civility’ in Pre-Qín China

3. Coiners and Critics of ‘Civility/Civilization’ (Wén)

4. Inventing the ‘Barbarian’: From ‘Belligerent Others’ to ‘Civilizationally Inferior Others’

5. Ethnographic Vocabulary of Civilizational Otherness: The ‘Elegant’ ‘Rites’ of the ‘Great Ones’ Versus the ‘Vulgar’ ‘Customs’ of the ‘Barbarians’

Conclusion

About the Author

Uffe Bergeton is Assistant Professor of Pre-Tang Chinese Language, Culture and History in the Department of Asian Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. Having a background in both linguistics and ancient Chinese history, he specialises in the study of pre-Qín China.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the Early History of Asia

The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars in the West and the East, on all aspects of the early history of Asia.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HIS002000
HISTORY / Ancient / General
HIS008000
HISTORY / Asia / China
HIS039000
HISTORY / Civilization
SOC008000
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOC053000
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies