While Plato is concerned with limiting the excesses of power, Laozi, at least in the understanding of the Han commentator, defines the preconditions for absolute power as immunity to temptation. Laozi’s formula became a central idea of kingly rule within Legalist thought, the philosophy embraced by the emperor Qin Shi Huang, founder of the Qin dynasty in 221 BCE. The evolution of ideas and language around the notion of ‘power’ that led to today’s most common term for power, quanli 权力 (權力 in traditional characters) is remarkable: and not only for the continuity between Laozi’s ancient idea of absolute power and the political agenda of Xi Jinping.
|Title of host publication||China Story Yearbook 2018: Power|
|Editors||J Golley, L Jaivin, P J Farrelly and S Strange|
|Place of Publication||Canberra, Australia|
|Publication status||Published - 2019|