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A Buddhist Response to Ancient-style Learning: Qisong's Conception of Political Order

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This article focuses on the political thought of the Song-dynasty Chan monk Qisong (1007-1072). In opposition to earlier studies, which have tended to view Qisong's political theorizing simply as an offshoot of his philosophical syncretism, it is contended here that his political arguments played an important role in his refutation of the Ancient-style Learning movement's attacks against Buddhism. As is well known, several Song-dynasty proponents of Ancient-style Learning impugned Buddhism for the negative impact it exerted on Chinese social and political culture. Qisong responded to their attacks by crafting a comprehensive political theory, which sought to demonstrate not only that Ancient-style Learning thinkers had misunderstood the dao and proper governance, but also that Buddhist institutions were indispensable to the creation of political order.

Affiliations: 1: National Tsinghua University, Taiwan

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