Scholar’s dedication to Tao: the Hua–Yi Distinction and historical and cultural identityMay. 12,2020
The long-term and unceasing integration of the peoples in the ancient Chinese society based on a historical and cultural identity paved the way for the formation of the modern China as a unified poly-ethnic country as well as the Chinese nation. In the process, the Hua–Yi distinction (Yi-Xia distinction) was also a key contributing factor. In fact, as a political and cultural idea, the Hua–Yi Distinction served to build an order of Tianxia (all under Heaven) featuring great unity through ritual propriety. In the broad sense, the Hua–Yi Distinction comprised two parts: “adhering to the defense of the Chinese from the barbarians” and “using things Chinese to transform the barbarians,” which were proposed, explained and practiced by Confucianism. In the ancient Chinese society, the Hua–Yi Distinction never faded, but was widely accepted and pursued by more and more peoples to varying degrees, which immensely promoted the communication, exchange, integration as well as historical and cultural identification between peoples. These achievements would not be possible without the endeavors and sacrifice of the Confucian scholar-gentry who adhered to the scholar’s dedication to Tao. This essay intends to explicate this point by surveying the practice of Hua–Yi Distinction by the Confucian scholar-gentry under different regimes in the Song, Liao, and Jin dynasties, in a bid to enhance readers’ understanding of the formation process of the Chinese nation.
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