Masters and philosophers (zibu 子部)


The category of “masters and philosophers” (zibu 子部) is the third of the four traditional categories (sibu 四部) into which Chinese literature was divided. The writings assembled in this category are quite heterogenous. Some are philosophical, others scientific, and a third part is a loose aggregation of descriptive notes. The term zi 子 is therefore not very easy to translate. The “masters and philosophers” were, during the Han period汉 (206 BCE-220 CE), divided into Confucians (rujia 儒家), Mohists (mojia墨家), sophists (mingjia 名家), legalists (fajia 法家), Yin-Yang thinkers(yinyangjia 阴阳家), theoreticians of the Five Progresses (wuxingjia 五行家),Daoists (daojia 道家), coalition advisors (zonghengjia 纵横家), miscellaneous thinkers (zajia 杂家), agriculturalists (nongjia 农家) and novelists orstorytellers (xiaoshuojia 小说家). Military theoreticians (bingjia 兵家) were in the beginning seen as a different group. With the growing amount of books written, the categories of astronomy and astrology (tianwen 天文),mathematics and calendar (lishu 历数), as well as medical treatises (yifang医方) had to be incorporated into the literary categories. Technical skills were from the Tang period 唐 (618-907) on also part of the masters category. Later on, Buddhism was not any more a foreign religion, but Chinese monks started compiling Chinese treatises on Buddhism. At the same time the corpus of religious Daoist writings grew abundantly. The writings of the two religions had therefore also to be considered. Under the dominance of Confucian scholars, the two were always put at the end of the masters category and included only the most important writings. Thecollectaneum Siku quanshu 四库全书 includes 2,984 books in this category.

儒家 Rujia Confucian treatises
兵家 Bingjia Military treatises
法家 Fajia Legalist treatises
農家 Nongjia Agricultural treatises
醫家 Yijia Medical treatises
天文算法 Tianwen suanfa Astronomical and mathematical treatises
術數 Shushu Divination books
藝術 Yishu Treatises on art
譜錄 Pulu Scientific treatises
雜家 Zajia Miscellaneous treatises
類書 Leishu Encyclopedias
小說家 Xiaoshuojia Novels and stories
釋家 Shijia Buddhists
道家 Daojia Daoists
Other representatives of the “Hundred Schools”
墨家 Mojia Mohists → Miscellaneous treatises
縱橫家 Zonghengjia Coalition advisors
名家 Mingjia Sophists or Dialecticians
楊朱 Yang Zhu The school of Yang Zhu, Yangists, hedonists or egoists
陰陽家 Yinyangjia Yin-Yang thinkers
五行家 Wuxingjia The theoreticians of the Five Progresses
黃老學派 Huang-Lao xuepai The School of Huang-Lao thought
稷下學派 Jixia xuepai Scholars of the Jixia Academy
宋尹學派 Song-Yin xuepai The school of Song Xing and Yin Wen
管仲學派 Guan Zhong xuepai The school of of Guan Zhong
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