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The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition$
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Zehou Li

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833077

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833077.001.0001

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The Rites and Music Tradition

The Rites and Music Tradition

(p.1) Chapter 1 The Rites and Music Tradition
The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition

Li Zehou

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter traces the major themes of Chinese aesthetics (beauty and goodness, society and nature, feeling and form, art and politics) back to the pre-Confucian tradition of rites and music. It considers the possibility of uniting the statement, “when a ram is large, it is beautiful” (equating beauty with the natural or sensuous), with the statement that “man with ram is beautiful” (equating beauty with goodness). It details how further development and specialization of ancient totemic dance and shamanistic ritual led to the so-called rites and music and laid the foundation for the unity of sense and reason, nature and society, that would come to characterize the Chinese aesthetic tradition. It also discusses the connection between taste and beauty and how rites and music are intimately connected with politics. This chapter suggests that Confucian aesthetics carried on and developed the rites and music tradition of China.

Keywords:   beauty, goodness, art, politics, Chinese aesthetics, rites, music, totemic dance, shamanistic ritual, taste

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