In this major new study, Mark Edward Lewis traces how the changing
language of honor and shame helped to articulate and justify
transformations in Chinese society between the Warring States and
the end of the Han dynasty. Through careful examination of a wide
variety of texts, he demonstrates how honor-shame discourse
justified the actions of diverse and potentially rival groups. Over
centuries, the formally recognized political order came to be
intertwined with groups articulating alternative models of honor.
These groups both participated in the existing order and, through
their own visions of what was truly honourable, paved the way for
subsequent political structures. Filling a major lacuna in the
study of early China, Lewis presents ways in which the early
Chinese empires can be fruitfully considered in comparative context
and develops a more systematic understanding of the fundamental
role of honor/shame in shaping states and societies.
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