This volume explores the tradition of Chinese political thought from a wide range of perspectives, including political science, intellectual history, textual studies, and philosophy.Studies of Chinese political thought seem to offer one of two extreme images of the topic. For some, Chinese social institutions and cultural practices are seen to reproduce a constant order. According to this view, Chinese politics and history mark enduring autocracy. And the tradition of Chinese political thought lays the ideological foundations for the growth of autocratic institutions in China, without significant changes in its fundamental orientation throughout Chinese history. This view has been discredited in many quarters, particularly by those who are more sensitive to historical transformation. For them, Chinese political history represents not an unchanging scene but rather a kaleidoscope of change.
An underlying assumption of the current project is that the tradition of Chinese political thought, insofar as it is a unity at all, is a fragile and complex balance of various disparate and conflicting elements. At the same time, it does have shared points of reference. The history of Chinese thought thus understood would not be something susceptible to monolithic abstraction, but would serve as a historical resource, which enables us to ask good questions about Korean thought. One of the main aims of this volume will be to capture such "ordered complexity," thereby serving as crucial reference points for studying history of Korean political thought.