Shenti yu zhiguo: 身體與治國: Shidu Qinghuajian "Taizai Chimen" Jianlun ji 試讀清華簡《湯在啻門》兼論「疾」

Translated title of the contribution: When Ji 疾 (illness) means more than illness: body and statecraft in the Tsinghua Bamboo Manuscript of the Tang Zai Chimen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This paper explores the concept of body and statecraft in the Warring States period with particular reference to the meaning of ji 疾 (illness) by reading the texts in the newly published Tsinghua University bamboo manuscripts dated to the fourth century BCE. The recovered texts of the Warring States period suggest loving the people and running a state is comparable to taking good care of your own body and the theories of nourishing body should be applied to the statecraft. The conversation between Tang湯and the minister Yiying 伊尹in the “Tang Zai Chimen 湯在啻門” (Tang in Chimen) has drawn a microcosmic view of the qi氣in the body and maintaining a good life as a metaphor to the macrocosmic way of managing the state. The ruler is advised to observe the metaphorical framework of the flow of qi and its impact on the body: it is only when one knows about the techniques of good living can one grasp the method of governing the state; only when one can understand the principle of one’s physical body can one know how to rule the people properly. The dialogue reflects the concept of state and politics in early China that has not been detached from the goal of maintaining personal good life and the well-being of the people; good health of the individual and the well-being of the multitude is an embodiment of the balance of qi and manifestation of the proper rules of living. While different ancient texts may have different understanding of the techniques and rules of propriety to maintain health, all share the view that physical and psychological health lies in the cultivation of the goodness and virtue. Illness ji 疾therefore could have the double connotations of moral defect and physical illness. With this understanding, it is the interweaving of morality and health that should define human life and that a good ruler is one that leads with morality to ensure the physical well-being and good outlook or spirit of an entire people.
Translated title of the contributionWhen Ji 疾 (illness) means more than illness: body and statecraft in the Tsinghua Bamboo Manuscript of the Tang Zai Chimen
Original languageChinese
Title of host publicationHuman Nature, Morality, and Fate in the Tsinghua University Bamboo Manuscripts, Ming xun 命訓, Tang chu yu Tangqiu 湯處於湯丘, Tang zai Chimen 湯在 啻門, and Yin Gaozong wen yu san shou 殷高宗問於三壽
Subtitle of host publication人性、道德與命運:《清華大學藏戰國竹簡》中的《命訓》、《湯處於湯丘》、《湯在 啻門》與《殷高宗問於三壽》
EditorsSarah Allan, Michael Lüdke
Place of PublicationShanghai
PublisherShanghai Zhongxi Book Company
Number of pages11
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018


  • Chinese ancient texts
  • Chinese ancient history
  • Chinese philosophy
  • health and well-being


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