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4 Intellectual Convergence in the Qin and Han Dynasties, from ca. the 3rd Century bce to ca. the Mid-2nd Century ce

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Chapter Summary

In the Han dynasty, due to the establishment of a unified dynasty and the tendency toward a unified consciousness, intellectual history moved from the Zhuangzi's "the art of the Way in time came to be rent and torn apart by the world" to the Huainanzi's "the hundred schools have different specializations, yet they all strive to rule". The archeological finds discovered in the Han tombs at Mawangdui in Changsha in the 1970s have given us unprecedented materials for a new understanding of the Qin and Han intellectual world. With the unification of the Qin and Han, thought developed from division toward convergence and synthesis. For three to four hundred years, from the Qin-Han transition to the end of the Han, the study of the apocryphal texts in the Chinese intellectual world went from rise to flourish to decline.

Keywords: apocryphal texts; Chinese intellectual world; Han dynasty; Huainanzi; Mawangdui; Qin dynasty; Zhuangzi



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