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Huainanzi (179–122 BC)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-G055-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 21, 2024, from

Article Summary

Huainanzi is both the honorific name of Liu An, the second king of Huainan and the title of the philosophical work for which he was responsible. The most important surviving text of the academy he established at his court, it consists of twenty-one essays that form a compendium of knowledge the Daoist ruler needs to govern effectively. In this work, the universe is a well-ordered, dynamic and interrelated whole, interfused by the unifying principle of the dao, that develops according to patterns and processes comprehensible to self-realized human beings. The ruler must cultivate himself fully so that he comprehends these patterns and processes and must establish human society in harmony with them. Embracing the best ideas of earlier philosophers within a Daoist framework, the Huainanzi represents the fullest flowering of the Huang–Lao thought that dominated the early Han dynasty.

Citing this article:
Roth, H.D.. Huainanzi (179–122 BC), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-G055-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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