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Introduction: Political Rhetoric in Early China

Rhétorique et politique en Chine ancienne
Paul van Els et Elisa Sabattini
p. 5-14

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1. Rhetoric in the West
2. Rhetoric in China
3. Rhetoric in Early China

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Early Chinese thought enjoys a wide appeal, in the scholarly world as much as elsewhere, as people are keen on learning about the ideas of Confucius, Mencius, and other thinkers whose views have shaped traditional Chinese culture. In the study of early Chinese thought, emphasis has long been on what thinkers said, not on how they proffered their views. Even studies that do consider the how, tend to focus on logic and argumentation, rather than rhetoric. Fortunately, in the past few decades growing attention has been paid to Chinese rhetoric which has led to an impressive number of publications. This issue of Extrême-Orient, Extrême-Occident feeds into the current debate on Chinese rhetoric by exploring facets that have hitherto been underemphasized, if explored at all. In this introduction, brief outlines of rhetoric in the West and in China are followed by synopses of the six articles in this issue.

1. Rhetoric in the West

Rhetoric, from the Greek word rhētōrikē (ῥητορική...

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Paul van Els et Elisa Sabattini, « Introduction: Political Rhetoric in Early China », Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident [En ligne], 34 | 2012, mis en ligne le 01 novembre 2015, consulté le 27 novembre 2015. URL :

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Paul van Els

Paul van Els is associate professor of China Studies at Leiden University. His area of specialization is early Chinese thought, which includes thinkers, texts, and traditions from the Warring States period to the Han dynasty (roughly the first five centuries bce). More information is available at

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Elisa Sabattini

Elisa Sabattini is currently Assistant Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Sassari (Italy). She was educated at the University of Venice and at INALCO in Paris. In 2007 she became a two-year post-doctoral fellow, funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, in the Department of Sinology at the Catholic University of Leuven. Her research focuses on Chinese intellectual history, with particular attention to the Warring States and early Han periods. Major publication: Lu Jia. Nuovi argomenti (Venice, Cafoscarina, 2012).

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