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Taixue in Han Dynasty: an institution of higher learning established by state to support scholars, under monopoly of Confucianism, where hundreds of schools of thought can compete

At beginning of Han Dynasty, having learned lessons of decline of Qin Dynasty, shackles of culture were lifted, "book keeping law" was abolished, people were allowed to open private schools, and role of literati was emphasized. These measures contribute to restoration of study of hundreds of schools of thought. But in general, dominant thought at beginning of Han Dynasty was study of Huang Lao. After Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty came to power, in order to strengthen centralization of power, he began to promote "higher Confucianism." School reform is an important manifestation of exceptional respect for Confucianism. In school education, Taixue became one of representatives.

First, setting of Taixue is "Educating people of world."

Taixue is highest official educational institution of ancient China, and its prototype is university of three generations. The earliest university recorded in Chinese documents was during Shang Dynasty. It is recorded in Book of Rites that "the Yin people correctly identified education as a university, left education as an elementary school, and studied for pleasure in Guzong." The dynasty had five universities, namely Chengjun (Southern) School), Shangxiang (Northern School), Piyong (Taixue), Dongxu (Dongxue or Dongjiao), Guzong (Western Teaching or Siyong), and universities of princes are called "Pangong". The universities of Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties were mainly aimed at educating children of royal family, and education in government and integration of officials and teachers became their main characteristics.

Western Zhou School

After Western Zhou Dynasty, private schools grew, public schools fell into disrepair, and universities gradually fell into disrepair. During Warring States period, there was a tendency to cultivate scholars. Many monarchs and nobles attracted scholars for their own use. Jixia Academy in Qi State is one of representatives. The Jixia Academy set a precedent for support of scholars by national higher education institutions, but State of Qi did not interfere in academy's academic activities. After unification of Qin Dynasty, doctors of sciences, well-known scholars brought up by Qin Dynasty, were created to master national classics. However, Qin Dynasty pursued cultural-autocratic policies of "take officials as teachers", "accept law as teaching", and "burn books and bury Confucianism", which made education unthriving.

At beginning of Han Dynasty, due to relatively loose cultural policy, folk private schools reappeared, and Han Dynasty also paid attention to attracting these scholars. During time of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty, he tried to change old situation of "ruling without doing anything" and wanted to make a grand plan. For this reason, Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty chose Confucianism as his official ideology and attracted some Confucian scholars to his side. In 140 BC, as soon as Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty came to throne, he ordered officials at all levels to recommend "virtuous, honest, outspoken, and extremely cautionary scholars." These scholars were mostly Confucian scholars. In 136 BC. Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty established Doctor of Five Classics in palace to preach Confucian classics. All these trends indicate that Han Dynasty urgently needs a higher institution like Jixia Academy to "educate people of world."

In 134 B.C. new generation of Dong Zhongshu proposed to Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty to build Taixue in "Three Strategies of Heaven and Man" and consider Taixue as highest place to educate scholars. He said: “The best way to support scientists is Taixue. Taixue is key to sages and source of education." his proposal. In 124 BC. Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty ordered Prime Minister Gong Songhong to discuss recruitment of doctoral students, and finally "appoint 50 students for doctoral positions", that is, a doctor can have 50 students, and these students are students of Tai. The training institution for doctoral students was Taixue, a place dedicated to training of doctors of Five Classics, in other words, a place to train talents of ruling class of Han Dynasty.

Second, Taixue students who received their Ph.D.

In beginning, there were 14 Doctors of Five Classics who were academic masters at time, and they were basically recruited. During Eastern Han Dynasty, selection of doctors began to combine recommendation and examination. As a teacher at a Han Dynasty institution of higher education, level of a doctor is quite high. A doctor must have not only a high academic level, but also moral dignity, rich pedagogical experience (trained more than 50 students), usually over 50 years old. Although doctor's power is low, his social status is quite high, and he is generally respected in society. The annual salary of a doctor was 400 shi, and under Emperor Xuan it was 600 shi, which was same as a governor's salary but higher than that of a district magistrate. From point of view of etiquette, doctors can be equated with senior officials, and doctors can also participate in political discussions and even directly enter ranks of ministers.

A lecture on painting a brick statue of Eastern Han Taixue Dynasty

Students in Taixue were called "disciples of doctors" during Western Han Dynasty, and "Zhusheng" or "Disciples of Taixue" during Eastern Han Dynasty. This article is collectively titled "Taixue Students". Taichang is mainly responsible for selection of Taichang students. There are two main sources: first, Taichang directly selects "those who are over 18 and have good looks" in capital and cities. for Taixue as "special disciples" who are "well versed in literature, respect superiors, suppress politics and education, follow village, and go in and out without conflict." They need to do it on their own. Most of students who entered Taixue were children of bureaucrats, but there were also students from poor families. For example, Zhai Fangjin studied "Spring and Autumn" with a Ph.D. in Chang'an, and his mother paid for his studies. making shoes in Chang'an. During Eastern Han Dynasty, some of those who did not pass Ming Jing could be selected to enter Taixue. There is no strict rule on age of Tai students, youngest can be only 12 years old, and there are also 60-year-old gray-haired old people.

At beginning of Taixue's creation, there were only 50 students. This number increased to 100 under Emperor Zhao of Han Dynasty, 200 under Emperor Xuan, 1,000 under Emperor Yuan, and 3,000 under Emperor Cheng. By time of Eastern Han Dynasty, number of Tai students had grown to 30,000. The Huns in north also sent their children to study in Taixue. At beginning of founding of Taixue, there was no single and fixed school building. With increase in student size, dormitories were also built on a large scale. During Wang Mang's period, "Mingtan, Piyong, and Lingtai were built to house ten thousand scholarly districts" that could accommodate ten thousand people. During Eastern Han Dynasty, Emperor Guangwu rebuilt Taixue in Luoyang, and there were full-fledged dormitories there as well. During reign of Emperor Shun, Taixue was rebuilt and hostel expanded.

The increase in number of students has also changed way we learn. Initially, number of students was small, and each Ph.D. brought only 10 students, so individual or group teaching was mainly applied. As scale of learners expands, this method ceases to be applicable, so "greatest learning" method of group learning appears. High-level PhD students can also teach low-level students, and students discuss and learn from each other, so pressure of teaching should be reduced. However, this also leads to a relative decrease in effectiveness of training.

There is no age limit for students wishing to study in Taixue. During Western Han Dynasty, Taixue College held an annual policy examination on "setting subjects and setting policy" regularly. The subjects are divided into A, B and C depending on difficulty of test questions. After passing exam, you will be assigned corresponding official position. For example, those who have passed first department can serve as doctors, those who have passed second department can serve as Prince Sheren, and those who have passed third department can serve as literary anecdotes. During Eastern Han Dynasty, it was changed to every two years, and selection method was changed to number of classics passed. There are also people in Taixue who have never passed entrance exams in their entire lives: they “entered as children and returned home empty-handed.”

Inscriptions of Confucius and Han Dynasty in Qufu

Confucius said: "If you study well, you will be an official." The close combination of reading Taixue and official reflects this type of thinking. The country also attaches great importance to Taixue, and emperor frequently inspects, listens to lectures, and visits in person. On one hand, this may strengthen orthodox Confucian position and select talents for national bureaucracy, and also does not contribute to prosperity of a hundred directions.

Third, contents of Taixue education: Confucianism is only

The contents of Taixue's education in Han Dynasty were Confucian classics, but in Han Dynasty there was a dispute between modern classics and ancient classics. Jinwen Confucianism is based on Confucian classics transmitted by Confucian scholars at beginning of Han Dynasty, while Guwen Confucianism is based on pre-Qin Confucian classics found in ground or in a wall hole during time of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty. Jinwen Confucianism believes that "Six Classics" are all works of Confucius, and study of Confucianism is to dig out "subtle words and great meaning" from them, that is, to explain them. Confucianism in Han Dynasty had already merged with Legalism, so it contained much theological content of divine right of monarch and interaction between heaven and man, which was recognized by emperor. However, ancient Chinese classics believe that Six Classics were not written by Confucius and pay attention to clarifying original meaning of classics.

Representative of Jinwen Confucianism: Dong Zhongshu

Because emperor supported Jinwen Confucianism, Jinwen Confucianism was monopolized in Taixue for a long time. During reign of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty, doctors of Five Classics were created, and by end of Western Han Dynasty, their number increased to 14. Among them are Lu Poetry and Qi Poetry. and "Han Poetry" taught "Book of Songs"; there are three books: "Da Xia Hou Shu" and "Xiao Xia Hou Shu"; there is "Da Dai Li" and "Xiao Dai Li" which speak of Book of Rites, "Liang Que" and "Jingshi Yi"; when it comes to "Spring and Autumn", there are two families: "Gongyang Yana" and "Gongyang Yana". These are all modern writings.


During Wang Mang's reign, "restructuring of ancient times" was carried out, so he began to use ancient literature and classics, such as "Zuxi Chongqiu", "Mao Shi", "Yi Li", "Gu Wen Shang Shu" , All "Zhou Guan Jing" were appointed by doctors, which for some time contributed to flourishing of study of ancient Chinese classics. During Eastern Han Dynasty, status of Jinwen Confucianism was restored, while Guwen Confucianism mainly relied on private teaching. However, due to increasing influence of ancient Chinese classics, Taixue will also teach some content of ancient Chinese classics. In field of private schools, there is a tendency to merge two main classics. In 175, at initiative of Cai Yong and others, Eastern Han Dynasty engraved 46 passages from scriptures outside Taixue Gate, known in history as "Xiping Stone Classics", as standard textbooks and examination standards. . These engraved scriptures include Jinwen Confucianism and Ancient Chinese Confucianism, so they also represent end of Confucianism controversy.

Classic Xiping Stone

Teaching in Taixue must strictly abide by teacher law and family law. Teaching on law is writings of physicians established by imperial court, which is a kind of authority. According to disciples, doctor's scriptures, that is, chapters and sentences, have become family law. The imperial court established that later doctors must also be trained according to teaching method, otherwise they would be fired. For example, Meng Xi, who studied "Yi", could not be elected as a doctor because he had to follow teaching method. Of course, students can develop their theories, subject to teachings of teacher, to form a group of words, which is so-called "first there is law of teacher, and then words of family can be formed." Those who learn from law can trace source; those who follow family law can follow flow.” academic exchanges and innovation.

Generally speaking, Taixue occupies an important place in history of ancient Chinese education, and its appearance testifies to emergence of Chinese institutions of higher learning. Taixue's education is monopolized by Confucianism and its purpose is to cultivate talents for country. Thus, Taixue is very political. Taixue students from Eastern Han Dynasty participated in maelstrom of political struggle and suffered from "party disaster". The spirit displayed by Tai students in this movement is commendable and echoes contemporary May 4th Movement. However, in these kinds of schools with such a strong political purpose, scholars mostly serve politics, so there is always a lack of freedom, and prosperity of "one hundred schools of thought is hard to rival."

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