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Divided by a Common LanguageFactional Conflict in Late Northern Song China$
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Ari Daniel Levine

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832667

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832667.001.0001

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Frames of Reference

Frames of Reference

Classical Hermeneutics and Historical Analogism

(p.24) Chapter Two Frames of Reference
Divided by a Common Language

Ari Daniel Levine

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter establishes the broad parameters that bounded the political imaginations of the Northern Song by demonstrating how factionalists defined and interpreted factionalism in public and private rhetorical settings. By rereading and reinterpreting a shared corpus of classical and historical texts, faction theorists and factional rhetoricians manipulated these textual authorities to demarcate the boundaries of the political community between factions of petty men and factionless superior men. First, they interpolated fragments of classical texts as authoritative injunctions against factionalism, frequently decontextualizing them and reading them anachronistically, in order to claim that factionalism was a deviation from ancient ideals of rulership and ministerial loyalty. Second, faction theorists and factional rhetoricians compared the present to past factional conflicts, which they blamed for undermining and destroying the Han and Tang imperial polities, and warned that factions of petty men would do the same to the Song dynasty. Reformist and antireformist ministers, along with their monarchical audience, shared these classical and historical frames of reference, which bounded their conceptions of political action and organization by locating the imperial court as the central source of authority, and by empowering the monarch as the ultimate arbiter of faction.

Keywords:   Northern Song, factionalists, factionalism, faction rhetoric

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