Shang Yang as a historical personality and as a symbol

Zeng Zhenyu*, Yuri Pines (Translator)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article gives an overview of Shang Yang portrayals in four stages: from Han Fei’s sympathetic yet balanced assessment, passing over a variety of conflicting Han views, skipping through "the two millennia of vilification" to Zhang Taiyan’s (1869-1936) rediscovery of Shang Yang, and ending up at the Shang Yang fervor of the 1970s. Zeng shows how the figure of Shang Yang keeps popping up with a certain regularity, inciting conflicts about his legacy. He also argues that at each flare of the debate, what was really at stake was not a mere assessment of the long gone Warring States-period Qin reformer, but of the then current policies that needed to be indirectly addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-89
Number of pages21
JournalContemporary Chinese Thought
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Taylor & Francis.

Translatoion of: 张林祥. 进步观还是变易观——《商君书》历史观再认识


Dive into the research topics of 'Shang Yang as a historical personality and as a symbol'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this