How Do We Do If the Barbarians Have Their Monarchs: The Reading of the Sentence Yidizhiyoujun夷狄之有君 in the Analects from Song to Qing | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


The sentence 夷狄之有君,不如諸夏之亡也from the chapter Bayi八佾is one of the controversial sentences in the Analects for its possibility of being read as the exact opposite meanings: besides its literal and obvious meaning as 1. “The barbaric people with rulers are inferior to Chinese polities that are without ones.”, most scholars from Song dynasty (968-1279) chose, however, to understand it as 2. “Unlike the Chinese polities that are without their rulers, the barbaric people are with theirs (and hence being better).”, including one of the Cheng brothers (Cheng Zi “程子”), recognised founders of Neo Confucianism. Instead of a philological study of the “correct” meaning of the sentence, the focus of this paper lies on how this sentence was read from Song to Qing, with a focus on how Manchurian monarchs in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) have ingeniously used one of the interpretations to support their legitimacy of rule in China.


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