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Persons in Chinese History - Liu Shao 劉劭

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Liu Shao 劉劭 (c. 168/171/182-c. 245), courtesy name Kongcai 孔才, was a philosopher of the Wei period. He is known for his treatise on the human character, Renwuzhi 人物志. Liu hailed from Handan 邯鄲 in the commandery of Guangping 廣平 (today in Hebei). He served as a small official but then became a member of retinue (taizi sheren 太子舍人) of the warlord Cao Cao's 曹操 crown prince Cao Pi 曹丕 (Emperor Wen 魏文帝, r. 220-226) and was appointed assistant in the palace library (bishulang 祕書郎). After the foundation of the Wei dynasty in 220 he was promoted to the office of secretarial court gentleman (shangshu lang 尚書郎) and then gentleman cavalier attendant (sanji shilang 散騎侍郎). He was ordered to take over the responsibility for collecting all writings on the Confucian Classics, on the base of which he instructed students in the National University (taixue 太學). During the reign of Emperor Ming 魏明帝 (r. 226-239 CE), Liu Shao drafted regulations for state examinations, together with Yu Ni 庾嶷 and Xun Xian 荀詵. These were called Xinlü 新律 (preface preserved) and Lü lüelun 律略論. Liu also compiled the regulations Duguan kaoke 都官考課 for the examination of candidates in the capital. He was thereupon promoted to the office of cavalier attendant-in-ordinary (sanji changshi 散騎常侍), and in later years granted the title of Marquis within the Passes (guanneihou 關內侯). Liu was posthumously given the title of Chamberlain for Attendants (guangluxun 光祿勳).
It was common in the 3rd century to classify persons according to their "moral" character, and so enabling them to become part of the state administration. The selection of talented persons depended on their assessment of their virtues and character.
For this purpose, Liu Shao developed a theoretical concept of the classes of human character, based on Confucianism, but influenced by Daoism, legalism and the dialecticians (mingjia 名家). Human character was, according to Liu Shao, expressed in his words as well as in his comportment. These factors resulted in five different classes of character, namely "saints" (shengren 聖人), men of virtuous behavior (dexing 德行), those of partial accomplishment (piancai 偏材), such with a lack of true virtue (yisi 依似), and men men without a norm (xianza 間雜). The virtue of a "saint" followed the golden mean (zhongyong 中庸), which he interestingly enough interpreted in a Daoist way as "without expression" (wu ming 無名). There might be contradictions between a name someone had (ming 名) and the truth (shi 實). The latter could be found out by an examination of his talents and comportment.
With the concept of "victory by reason" (lisheng 理勝) Liu described the ability discern in a discussion clearly between right and wrong, while those winning with words (cisheng 辭勝) would undermine justice.
In another context, Liu Shao speks of three talents (sancai 三材) and twelve categories of abilities (shi'er liupin 十二流品). These were the man of sublime behavior (qingjiejia 清節家), the statesman (fajia 法家), the strategist (shujia 術家), the leader of a state (guoti 國體), the man of instrumental ability (qineng 器能), the critic (cangfou 臧否), the pracital man (jiliang 技倆), the astute man (zhiyi 智意), the literary man (wenzhang 文章), the learned man (ruxue 儒學), the dialectician (koubian 口辯), and the hero (xiongjie 雄傑). While these terms point at the field particular persons were good in, character is described somewhat better by the categorization in severe and resolute persons (lizhi gangyi 厲直剛毅), soft and considerate ones (roushun anshu 柔順安恕), fierce and heroic ones (xionghan jiejian 雄悍傑健), refined and cautious ones (jingliang weishen 精良畏慎), strong and unyielding ones (qiangkai jianjing 彊楷堅勁), discursive ones (lunbian liyi 論辨理繹), universal ones (putuan zhouji 普慱周給), clear and incorruptible ones (qingjie lianjie 清介廉潔), eminent ones (xiudong leiluo 休動磊落), profound and crafty ones (chenjing jimi 沉靜機密), simple and upright ones (pulu jingjin 樸露徑盡), and such of wisdom and strategy (duozhi taoqing 多智韜情).
The nine manifestations (jiuzheng 九征) would help to assess the character of a person by his appearance. The cosmological composition of the body out of the Five Agents (wuxing 五行) influenced its appearance, the character of the persons, and finally his virtues. In the Confucian range of virtues, knowledge or wisdom (zhi 智) had only played a secondary role. Liu Shao elevated this virtue to a higher status and even assumed that the other virtues, like kindheartedness (ren 仁) or righteousness (yi 義) depended on the grade of knowledge. Only knowledge would be able to discern the reason (ming li 明理) behind all forms of behaviour. Human capacities were expressed in eight different categories: Responibility of self-reliance (ziren 自任), legislating (lifa 立法), planning (jice 計策), human affairs (renshi 人事), action (xingshi 行事), adaptability (quanqi 權奇), investigating (sicha 司察), and fierceness (weimeng 威猛).
Other writings of Liu Shao were his treatises Falun 法論 (on law), Yuelun 樂論 (on music) and the encyclopaedia Huanglan 皇覽 (all lost). Of his rhapsodies, Zhaodu fu 趙都賦 is transmitted, but Xudu fu 許都賦 and Luoyang fu 洛都賦 are lost.

Sources: Zhang Renjun 張人駿, Zhu Yongxin 朱永新 (ed. 1986), Xinlixue renwu cidian 心理學人物辭典 (Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe), p. 37. ● Yi Xingguo 衣興國 (ed. 1988), Shiyong Zhongguo mingren cidian 實用中國名人辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), p. 227. ● Chen Ying 陳瑛, Xu Qixian 許啟賢 (ed. 1989), Zhongguo lunli da cidian 中國倫理大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), p. 269. ● Tao Yinpiao 陶銀驃, Wu Min 武斌, Wang Juzhong 王舉忠 (ed. 1989), Zhong-wai zhexuejia cidian 中外哲學家辭典 (Xi’an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), p. 178. ● Zhongguo baike da cidian bianweihui 《中國百科大辭典》編委會 (ed. 1990), Zhongguo baike da cidian 中國百科大辭典 (Beijing: Huaxia chubanshe), p. 255. ● Zhuang Hanxin 莊漢新, Guo Juyuan 郭居園 (ed. 1991), Zhongguo gujin mingren da cidian 中國古今名人大辭典 (Beijing: Jingguan jiaoyu chubanshe), p. 207. ● Tang Yijie 湯一介 (1987),"Liu Shao 劉劭", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhexue 哲學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, p. 499. ● Yan Guocai 燕國材 (1992), "Liu Shao 劉劭", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Xinlixue 心理學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), p. 201. ● Shi Quanchang 石泉長 (ed. 1993), Zhonghua baike yaolan 中華百科要覽 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), p. 443. ● Zhou Tiquan 周禮全 (ed. 1994), Luoji baike cidian 邏輯百科辭典 (Chengdu: Sichuan jiaoyu chubanshe), p. 303. ● Huang Huixian 黃惠賢 (ed. 1997), Ershiwushi renming da cidian 二十五史人名大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), Vol. 1, p. 117. ● Lin fei 林非 (ed. 1997), Zhongguo sanwen da cidian 中國散文大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), p. 84. ● Zhang Shunhui 張舜徽 (ed. 1992), Sanguozhi cidian 三國志辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), p. 604. ● Lin Chongde 林崇德, Yang Zhiliang 楊治良, Huang Xiting 黃希庭 (ed. 2003), Xinlixue da cidian 心理學大辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe), Vol. 1, p. 768.

June 1, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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