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Chinese Literature
Tianzi 田子 "Master Tian"


The Tianzi 田子 "Master Tian" is a Daoist treatise written by the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE) writer Tian Pian 田騈, a scholar studying at the Jixia academy 稷下 in the state of Qi 齊. His name is also called Chen Pian 陳騈 (as a distant member of the ruling house of Qi), his style was Tiankouzi 田口子. Tian Pian was a disciple of the Daoist master Peng Meng 彭蒙 and was befriended to Shen Dao 慎到, who is known as the great founder of legalist philosophy. Inclined to a worldview that laid less importance on social hierarchy, Tian Pian was convinced that all things on earth had the potency to occupy all different functions. A clear distinction of correct and wrong had to be given up, and man had to make free himself of thinking of his own position and importance. He was thus a strict opponent of Confucianism, according to which everyone had a clear function in society and a fixed position within the social hierarchies. In ancient times Tian Pian was seen as one of the most important philosophers spreading the thought of Daoism. His book is therefore listed in the imperial bibliography Yiwenzhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書 among the Daoist treatises. His book was originally 25 chapters long and was lost before the Tang period 唐 (618-907). The Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Ma Guohan 馬國翰 extracted quotations of the Tianzi from various ancient books, like the Lüshi chunqiu 呂氏春秋 or Huainanzi 淮南子. These fragements are included in the collectaneum Yuhan shanfang jiyi shu 玉函山房輯佚書.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 2296. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.

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August 27, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail