The Authority of Heaven and the Five Elements in the Shiji of Sima Qian (second century B.C.)
Hans van Ess (Ludwig Maximilians Universität München)
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
11377 Bunche Hall
In his Shiji – the first historiographical work in China with a known author – Sima Qian frequently referred to the authority of Heaven. On the other hand, the Shiji is suffused with a very rational attitude. Moreover, only occasionally do we find in it references to the Five Elements theory which must have been well-known to Sima Qian and which later was to become one of the most important legacies of the Warring States period. Recent scholarship on the Shiji calls for more thorough research into the motivation of Sima Qian. This lecture will address the issue of how much Sima Qian's beliefs influenced his writing of the Shiji.
Hans van Ess graduated from Hamburg University in 1986. There, he also wrote his Ph.D thesis on Confucian scholarship under the Han, which was published in 1993. After three years working as an area manager at a business association in Hamburg he became assistant professor at the University of Heidelberg, where he researched Confucianism under the Song. Since 1998 he has been professor of Chinese studies at Munich University.
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Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies