宗法 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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zōngfǎ 宗法

Feudal Clan System

中国古代以家族为中心,按血统、嫡庶来组织、治理家族、国家、社会的原则、方法。宗法由父系氏族的家长制演化而来,定型于西周,与封建制等互为表里。宗法分为家国两个层面,在家的层面,宗族的嫡长子是家族的嫡系继承人,拥有家族的最高权力,其余家族成员依据亲疏、世系各自确定其在家族中的地位和权力。帝王公侯或者世家大族的宗族等级制扩展到国家的层面,对于王位继承与国家政治具有决定性的作用。宗法制数千年来对中国人的生活方式、思维方式影响深远。

This system was central to life in ancient China; it was a system of principles and measures by which a clan, a state, or society was run, based on bloodline or whether a son was born from the wife or a concubine. The feudal clan system evolved from the patriarchal chiefs system. Taking shape during the Western Zhou Dynasty, this system and the feudal system were mutually dependent and complementary. The feudal clan system had two levels: one was the familial level, where the eldest son by the wife was the first in line to inherit the family’s property and thus enjoyed the greatest authority. Other members of the clan were allotted their status and authority according to their closeness of kinship, ancestry, or seniority. In the families of the emperor, kings, and other nobility, this pattern was extended to the state or national level. It had a decisive impact on the inheritance of the imperial throne and on state politics. The feudal clan system greatly influenced the Chinese way of life and thinking for several thousand years.

引例 Citation:

◎宗法者,佐国家养民教民之原本也。(冯桂芬《复宗法议》)

(所谓宗法,是帮助国家养育、教化民众的原始基础。)

The feudal clan system is a state’s bedrock for fostering and educating its people. (Feng Guifen: My Argument for Restoring the Feudal Clan System)

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