Qinshihuang established the centralized Qin Empire, read a large number of documents every day, and bowed down to manage the huge empire. Many of his decrees have been praised by later generations. However, in dealing with the two issues, his approach has been unanimously condemned by later generations. These two things, one is “burning books” and the other is “pitching Confucianism”. In Chinese history, it is almost impossible to separate the burning of books and the pitching of Confucianism from the first emperor of Qin Dynasty. When it comes to the cruelty of Qinshihuang, we must say that he burned books and pitied Confucianism; When it comes to the death of the second emperor of the Qin Dynasty, it is necessary to burn books and bury Confucianism; When it comes to absolutism in Chinese history, we must speak of burning books and pitching Confucianism; When it comes to the catastrophe in the history of Chinese culture, we must also talk about burning books and pitching Confucianism. The first emperor of Qin Dynasty and the scholars who burned books and Keng holes always appeared together in Chinese history. So, how did these two things happen? How should we evaluate the burning of books and pitching of scholars today?
Chunyu in Xianyang palace becomes more and more difficult
In the 34th year of Emperor Qinshihuang (213 BC), a grand banquet was held in Xianyang palace. Seventy doctors raised their glasses to Emperor Qinshihuang. The grand scene moved Qinshihuang.
On behalf of the doctors, chief doctor zhouqingchen made a speech to the first emperor of Qin. He said that in the past, the land of Qin was only a thousand miles away, and it was located in the western border. Relying on your Majesty’s holy spirit, you can calm the sea and expel the Hu people. Now, wherever the sun and moon shine, they obey the king. The former land of princes has been replaced by today’s counties. Everyone in the world is happy and will no longer suffer from war. The Qin Empire can be handed down to all ages. Since ancient times and today, no one can match your Majesty’s reputation and virtue.
Although he knew that zhouqingchen was flattered by pleasant words, this congratulatory message was also true. Qinshihuang felt very happy when he heard it.
Suddenly, he said, “zhouqingchen, you flatter your majesty. What is your heart?” The reprimand came from the doctor’s Square, and then one person came out. The ministers were shocked. Qinshihuang was in the mood. He was poured a ladle of cold water on his head. He held back his anger. He turned out to be Dr. Qi Di Chun Yu Yue.
Chunyu Yue said that I heard that both the Shang and Zhou dynasties had been handed down for thousands of years because they granted their sons and meritorious officials as princes to assist the royal family. Now your majesty has the world, but the king’s children have no place. What if there were ministers like Tian Chang of the state of Qi who usurped the power of the Jiang Dynasty without the assistance of princes? In my opinion, there is no dynasty that can govern for a long time without imitating the ancients. The flattery of Zhou Qingchen to his Majesty’s face can only aggravate his Majesty’s mistakes. Zhou Qingchen is not a loyal minister (I heard that the king of yin and Zhou was more than a thousand years old and granted meritorious officials to his children. Today, his majesty has a family in the sea, but his children are men. He has Tian Chang and the ministers of the six ministers. How can he help each other? It’s not common to hear that things can last long without learning from the past. Today, he flatters his majesty and is not a loyal minister)!
After Chunyu yuelangsheng said these words, the whole court immediately became quiet.
The ministers all understood that the Tian family’s replacement of Qi was a major event in the early Warring States period. The first monarch of the state of Qi was jiangtaigong, the founder of the Zhou Dynasty. Therefore, the monarch of the state of Qi was surnamed Jiang. After the Tian family came to the state of Qi, they gradually developed. The Tian family used the method of small fighting in and big fighting out to buy the hearts of the people. The people of the state of Qi rushed to the Tian family, and the Tian family’s power grew day by day. The final result was that the Tian family eradicated the influence of other public clans, and in 378 B.C., he replaced the Jiang family as the king of the state of Qi. This is a famous example in Chinese history that a non-public Qing clan replaced the monarch. Chunyu is more worried that if the state of Qin does not grant meritorious deeds to its children, similar incidents will occur in the future. Chunyu Yue’s view is very clear, that is, to restore the feudal system, which is actually directly expounded against the county system of Qinshihuang.
Hearing Chunyu Yue’s words, Qinshihuang felt deeply that he opposed his county system. He was very angry and immediately put away his smile. Chunyu Yue’s alarmist talk involved the question of whether the territory of the Qin Empire was later surnamed Ying. Therefore, he suppressed his anger and told the ministers that the matter would be submitted to the court for discussion.
In fact, Qinshihuang’s anger is very understandable. People often say that “you will be happy after hearing it”, but how can you be happy after hearing it in this world? However, if you are a normal person, you will be glad if you hear of it. “When you smell it, you will be angry” is normal, and “when you smell it, you won’t be happy” is a highly cultivated person.
Prime Minister Lisi was the first to come forward and refute. LISS is tit for tat against Chunyu Yue’s viewpoint. There are two main points to refute:
First, the king after the law should not be the king before the law. The five emperors’ methods of governing the world were not the same, and the Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties’ methods of governing the country were not completely followed. They governed the world according to their own conditions. This is not that the three emperors and three generations intended to be innovative, but that they lived in different times, so their methods of governing the country were also different. Now, your majesty has created a great cause and established the eternal merit, which is not what ordinary fools can understand. Besides, Chunyu Yue talks about the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties. How can it be emulated? At that time, the princes fought against each other and recruited a wide range of scholars. Now the world is settled and the laws and regulations are unified. The people should work hard to cultivate the land, and scholars should learn the laws and regulations.
Second, forbid private learning to eliminate dissent. Now some people do not learn from the present but only from the ancients, criticizing the current world and disturbing the hearts of the people. I dare say a word: the world was chaotic in ancient times, and no one could unify the world, so the princes merged with each other, discussing the past rather than the present, and making empty words and confusing facts. People only know to slander the emperor’s new system with what they have learned. Now the emperor dominates the country, and his private studies criticize the government. As soon as I heard the emperor’s edict, I began to talk about it, either in my heart or in the alley. Remonstrance is only a name. It is only by being unconventional that it becomes wise. If this situation is not prohibited, then the emperor’s dignity will decline and form a party for personal gain. Therefore, prohibition is the best policy.
I request your Majesty’s approval to destroy all the historical books not written by the historians of the state of Qin. It was not the need of the doctor’s office. All the poems, books and books of various schools hidden in various places were handed over to the sheriff’s office for centralized destruction. Those who dare to hide or gather people to talk about the poem and the book will be put to death. Those who dare to exterminate their families will be killed. An official who fails to report information shall be guilty of the same offence. Those who are ordered not to destroy them for 30 days will be punished as Chengdan (Chengdan is a kind of criminal law with a four-year term, guarding the city day and building the city at night). Medicine, divination and rural books are not forbidden. In the future, some people will learn laws and regulations, Just follow the officials to learn (please ask the historian to burn all the records of the Qin Dynasty. If he is not a doctor, he who dares to collect hundreds of languages of poems and books in the world will learn and keep them. If he dares to even speak poems and books, he will abandon the city. If he is not a modern family, he will be guilty of the same crime. He will not burn for 30 days, and Tsing will be a city Dan. If he does not go, he will learn the books of medicine, divination and tree planting. If he wants to learn laws and regulations, he will take the officials as his teacher).
Qinshihuang listened to Lisi’s suggestion and immediately ordered: I think so.
As a result, the notorious book burning order in Chinese history came into being.
Alchemists discuss politics, fear crimes, abscond to the first emperor, eliminate slander, anger and pit all living beings
The first emperor of Qin issued the order to burn books, which was triggered by the dispute among doctors about the superiority of feudal system and county system. A dispute over the political system would trigger such a decree by the first emperor of Qin. From this we can see that Qinshihuang wanted to use violence to control public opinion and consolidate his political power, which can be said to be a policy of fooling the people. This is the “book burning” incident that happened to Qinshihuang. So, what about the “entrapment Confucians” who shocked the world?
In the 32nd year of Emperor Qinshihuang (215 BC), Emperor Qinshihuang began his fourth grand cruise after he became emperor. This time, Qinshihuang mainly inspected the northern frontier. It was this time that he met Lu Sheng, a Yan man, and sent Lu Sheng to look for the immortal. Lu Sheng went out to sea to look for the magic medicine. Instead of finding the magic medicine, he brought the prophecy of “Hu ye who died in Qin” to the first emperor of Qin.
In the same year, Qin Shihuang, who was eager for immortality, also sent a group of alchemists such as Han Zhong, Hou Sheng and Shi Sheng to seek the medicine for immortality.
Three years later (the 35th year of Qin Shihuang, 212 BC), Lu Sheng, who could not find the immortal, suggested to Qin Shihuang to hide his whereabouts so as not to disturb the presence of “real people”. Qinshihuang called himself a “real person” and abolished the name “Zhen”. Then there was an incident in which Qinshihuang’s entourage disclosed to Lisi that Qinshihuang was dissatisfied with the grandness of his motorcade, which led Qinshihuang to execute all the attendants who were on Lisi’s side when he evaluated him.
After the two vicious incidents of “burning books” and killing followers, Hou Sheng and Lu Sheng were afraid. They were afraid that bad luck would befall them and that they would be severely punished by Qinshihuang if they could not find the magic medicine. Therefore, they gathered together to discuss the imperial government and Qinshihuang. This discussion touched on three very sensitive topics: Qinshihuang’s conduct of people, Qinshihuang’s conduct of government, and Qinshihuang’s demand for medicine.
Hou Sheng and Lu Sheng believed that Qinshihuang was a headstrong man, a man who thought he had made great contributions to the world, a man who only trusted prison officials, a man who ruled the world by killing, a man who was greedy for power, and a man who killed indiscriminately for the sake of magic medicine.
Hou Sheng and Lu Sheng’s comments on Qinshihuang involved all aspects of Qinshihuang’s personality, and all the comments were negative: headstrong, self righteous, full-time torture and murder, and infatuated with power.
Why is it that Qinshihuang was headstrong and greedy for power? Hou Sheng and Lu Sheng believed that Qinshihuang “thought that he had never been able to reach himself since ancient times”. There were seventy doctors in the imperial court. They were just decorations. The first emperor of Qin did not trust them (special reserve officer Fu Yong); Prime ministers and ministers are also furnishings. They just do errands according to orders (prime ministers and ministers are all subject to success and rely on discrimination). Everything in the world, big or small, must be decided by the emperor alone. Qinshihuang weighed his official documents with scales every day. At that time, all official documents were written on bamboo slips, so official documents had weight. The workload set by the first emperor of Qin was to review and read 120 kilograms of official documents every day. There was no rest if the quota was not met. There were specified indicators during the day and at night (everything in the world depends on the above. From the top to the bottom of the book, there was a presentation day and night, and there was no rest if the quota was not met).
What does self righteous and full-time killing mean? For fear of losing his official position and being killed, none of the ministers in the court dared to disagree with Qinshihuang. Therefore, “the upper level is arrogant, and the lower level is intimidated, subdued, and bullied in order to gain tolerance”. Those at the top are more self righteous than those at the top. Those at the bottom win trust by cheating.
After their comments, Hou Sheng and Lu Sheng felt that they would be worried about their lives if they stayed next to Qinshihuang. After their comments, they disappeared. Due to the poor confidentiality work, what they said about Qinshihuang behind his back was soon learned by Qinshihuang, which was no small matter. What’s more, Hou Sheng and Lu Sheng were afraid that their scam would be exposed soon, and they had fled from the crime. This triggered the wrath of Qinshihuang.
Qinshihuang’s anger was extraordinary. First, it happened in the second year after the book burning incident; Second, Emperor Qinshihuang spent a lot of money to seek immortality, but finally got nothing, and felt cheated; Third, the slander of the alchemists made Qinshihuang unbearable.
Qinshihuang counted the sins of the scholars: Han Zhong left without saying goodbye; Xu Fu spent a huge sum of money, but he didn’t hear from him in the end; Lu Sheng received huge financial aid and now slanders the government. It’s tolerable, but who can’t!
Therefore, Qinshihuang ordered the arrest of Zhusheng in Xianyang, the capital, and sent people to visit privately. Qinshihuang also set a tone for this matter: “or for the evil words to chaos Qianshou.” This sentence carries great weight! This means that Hou Sheng and Lu Sheng’s political discussion and escape have been identified by the first emperor of Qin as a crime of bewitching the people against the Qin Empire.
Then came the great arrest and trial. The arrested students exposed each other, implicating 460 people.
Qinshihuang buried all the 460 people alive and announced to the world that they could learn from it.
The emperor’s eldest son Fusu admonished the first emperor: the world has just been settled, and the people far away have not yet been obedient. All living beings are scholars. The emperor punished them with severe punishment. I’m afraid it will cause anxiety in the world.
Of course, Qinshihuang didn’t listen to these words. Besides, Fusu was sent by Qinshihuang to the north to serve as the supervisor of Mengtian Great Wall Corps. This is tantamount to demoting the capital.
This is the famous “entrapment of Confucian scholars” in Chinese history.
Bamboo slips can burn forever. Slander is easy to eliminate, but resentment is hard to eliminate
Qin Shihuang quickly unified his thought, controlled public opinion and created a unified historical pattern including thought through the two major events of “burning books” and “pitching Confucianism” in a very short time. However, “burning books and burying Confucian scholars” has always been regarded as evidence of the cruelty and violence of the first emperor of Qin, and has been reviled by scholars all over the world for more than twothousand years. Even today, when thinking of this historical event, some people still resent it. They wish they could dig their tombs and whip their bodies. They wish they could eat meat and sleep on the first emperor of Qin through more than twothousand years of time. This hatred is actually the collective fear in the subconscious of later writers. However, if you want to evaluate a historical event, you’d better evaluate it from the consequences of the event rather than using moral or emotional standards. So what are the historical consequences of burning books and burying Confucianism? How should we evaluate the case of burning books and pitching Confucian scholars that happened to Qinshihuang today?
First, the consequences of “burning books”.
First, it opened the way for fools to rule.
The evil result of Qinshihuang’s “book burning” is not only that he burned a large number of Pre-Qin classics, but also that Qinshihuang made an extremely bad start – using violence to promote the rule of fools and control public opinion. As the first emperor of Qin, it was inevitable for him to carry out personal dictatorship. However, for the whole feudal society, it was a terrible beginning for the first emperor of Qin to use violence to rule the people of the world.
Second, the book burning order could not solve the feudalism and the dispute between counties.
The fuse of the book burning order was just a debate on the merits of the feudal system and the county system. The danger of enfeoffment of princes is in the future, and the crisis of implementing prefectures and counties is at present. After several generations of enfeoffment, there will be the evil result of estrangement of blood relationship between princes and mutual killing and seizing; The crisis of implementing prefectures and counties is that once there is a riot, it will cause a serious situation of no one working for the king. Therefore, enfeoffment and counties have their own advantages and disadvantages. At the beginning of Emperor Qinshihuang’s unification of the world, there was a dispute over whether to establish feudalism or establish prefectures and counties. However, because Emperor Qinshihuang clearly supported Lisi, who advocated the prefecture and county system, he implemented the prefecture and county system throughout the country. However, the dispute between feudalism and counties did not end because the county system had been widely implemented throughout the country. The Confucian scholars represented by Chunyu Yue still insisted on the feudal system because they believed that only the implementation of the feudal system could consolidate the political power.
Chunyu Yue was a doctor’s representative who insisted on political ideas in the Qin Shihuang era. These doctors who insisted on their own political ideas did not give in because Qinshihuang advocated the system of prefectures and counties. They were obstinate and believed that the feudal system was the correct system to ensure the long-term stability of the Qin Empire.
Qinshihuang attached great importance to doctors. During the reign of the first emperor of Qin Dynasty, the imperial court set up 70 doctoral officers, which was almost the largest number of doctorates in all Chinese dynasties. However, Qinshihuang established the “one man” regime and implemented the emperor system. Although he had doctors, he could not listen to their opinions. Because most of Dr. Qin Ting approved of the system. The first emperor of Qin hoped that the doctors would support his political system, the system of prefectures and counties. Once there was a conflict at the level of political system, Qinshihuang would not follow his advice.
It is not a big deal that Qinshihuang did not adopt the views of the doctors on feudal system. The problem was that Qinshihuang did not listen to the doctors’ opinions, but adopted Lisi’s suggestions and ordered the burning of books. Qinshihuang did not punish Chunyu Yue, which was his wisdom; However, the first emperor of Qin tried in vain to put an end to the opinions of doctors and people’s comments on politics by burning books, which was the most stupid way.
Most scholars in Chinese history opposed burning books.
We might as well look at two ancient poems to see how the ancients viewed the book burning order of Qinshihuang. Zhang Jie of the Tang Dynasty wrote the poem “book burning pit”:
Bamboo, silk and smoke sell away the imperial business, and the river is closed to the ancestral dragon house.
Liu Xiang didn’t study at all.
“Bamboo and silk” in the first sentence of this poem refers to books. The books of Qin Dynasty are written on bamboo slips and wooden slips, so “bamboo and silk” represents books. “Cigarette sales” means that books have been burned. “Imperial industry is empty” means that the result of burning books was not as stupid as Qinshihuang imagined, but caused great harm to the imperial industry of the Qin Dynasty.
The second sentence “Guanhe” refers to rivers and mountains. “Empty lock” refers to a white lock. “ZuLong” refers to Qinshihuang. Qin Shihuang tried his best to guard against scholars all over the world, but only fooled him into thinking that “burning books” could fool the people all over the world. In fact, it didn’t work at all.
The third sentence “the ashes are not cold” means that the book was burned soon. In 213 BC (the 34th year of the first emperor of Qin), the first emperor of Qin issued an order to burn books. Three years later, the first emperor of Qin died. Four years later, the great uprising began in the late Qin Dynasty. “Shandong chaos” refers to the great chaos in the world.
The fourth sentence “Liu Xiang” refers to Liu Bang and Xiang Yu. “I didn’t study” satirized the failure of Emperor Qinshihuang’s policy of fooling the people.
The whole poem satirizes Qinshihuang for burning books and putting an end to speech, in an attempt to perpetuate the foundation of the Qin Dynasty. However, I did not expect that Liu Bang and Xiang Yu, who eventually overthrew the Qin Dynasty, did not study at all, and burning books did not work for them at all. Burning books and engaging in cultural autocracy, the Qin Dynasty was eventually overthrown by insurgents who did not read. It’s really “man’s calculation is not as good as heaven’s calculation”!
There is also a poem “book burning pit” written by anonymous:
Burning books only makes people stupid. Before they are stupid, the country is ruined.
But one man was foolish, and he read the book of war from Yellowstone.
Qinshihuang’s “burning books” was originally intended to implement the policy of fooling the people, but the country was destroyed before people were stupid. Because Emperor Qinshihuang imprisoned scholars all over the world, but he could not stop “one person” from being stupid. This person was Zhang Liang, the most famous adviser under Liu Bang. Zhang Liang read the book of war from Lord Huangshi and knew how to use it. This “one man” alone is enough to kill the Qin Empire.
From the two burning poems of later generations, Qin Shihuang’s “burning books” did not prevent the collapse of the Qin Empire, leaving only a source of ridicule for more than 2000 years and a thought-provoking historical lesson: fools cannot consolidate their rule.
Second, the theory of “pitching Confucianism” is not accurate.
“Pitching Confucianism” was called “pitching warlock” in Sima Qian’s “historical records · biographies of scholars” (until the Qin Dynasty, burning poetry and books, pitching warlock). The “warlocks” here refer to a group of Confucian scholars who advocate Yin Yang and five elements.
Wang Fu of the Eastern Han Dynasty also said in his “latent theory – Xiannan” that “the reason why the deceased Qin killed even words is to pit warlocks.” Wang Chong called “burning books” as “killing even words” and “pitching Confucianism” as “pitching warlocks”.
“Warlock” is a scholar of alchemy, and “Confucian scholar” is a Confucian scholar. The two concepts are related and different. “Warlocks” also read Confucian classics, but “warlocks” are more proficient in alchemy. Lu Sheng and Hou Sheng were both people who sought magic medicine for the first emperor of Qin, not pure Confucians.
Therefore, in this sense, the term “Keng ru” is not accurate.
Ban Gu’s records of Han Dynasty and suburb worship said:
Twelve years after the first emperor granted Zen, Qin died. The Confucian scholars killed literature by burning poems and books in Qin Dynasty. The people resented the law and the world rebelled against it.
Ban Gu’s “Literature” refers to “academic articles”, which is basically equivalent to “Confucian scholars”. However, Ban Gu still does not use the theory of “burning books and burying Confucianism”.
According to the biography of Confucian scholars in the Han Dynasty:
When the first emperor of Qin was in charge of the world, he burned poems and books and killed warlocks.
It can be seen that most scholars in the Western Han Dynasty did not call Qin Shihuang’s pit killing alchemist “pit Confucian”, but “pit warlock”. It should be said that this is an objective statement. The word “burning books and pitching Confucianism” was not officially used until Wei Hong wrote the preface to ancient texts in the Eastern Han Dynasty:
And the first emperor of Qin destroyed the ancient books of his ancestors, burned books and buried Confucianism, and the scholar fled and was dissolved. My ancestors hid his family letters on the wall of the house.
During the northern and Southern Dynasties, Fan Ye’s post Han Dynasty biography of Chen and fan in the Liu and Song Dynasties once again used the theory of “entrapment of Confucianism”:
Li Ying, the former senior officer of Sili, Du MI, the senior officer, fan Pang, the senior officer, and so on, were upright and devoted to the country. They were loyal to and disobedient to the orders of the country and made a thorough examination of the case. Or confinement, or death. Dusey is the mouth of the world, a deaf and blind man all his life? Why is it different from Qin’s burning books and burying Confucianism?
In addition, when Hou Sheng and Lu Sheng discussed the first emperor of Qin Dynasty, they specifically stated that there were “up to 300 Hou Xingqi” in Xianyang at that time. It can be seen that there were many warlocks in Xianyang, the capital.
Third, the new theory of “pitching Confucianism” is not believable.
We are talking about the pit Warlock of Qinshihuang according to the historical records of Qinshihuang, which is the most primitive and reliable basis. However, the book burning events recorded by Wei Hong in the Eastern Han Dynasty are quite different from those recorded in the historical records of Qinshihuang. According to Wei Hong, the first emperor of Qin changed the ancient characters into small seal script and Qin Li, fearing that scholars would not follow. Therefore, scholars from all over the world were summoned to the capital. First, they were granted the title of “Lang” (attendant), and then secretly sent people to plant melons in the hot spring area of Lishan Mountain. Because of the warmth of the underground, melons grew in winter. There was no plastic shed in the Qin Dynasty, which was a great surprise. The first emperor of Qin called the doctors of the world to discuss the issue of long melons in winter. The doctors talked and argued. The first emperor of Qin took the opportunity to send the doctors to Lishan for on-the-spot investigation. When the doctors investigated a melon field in the Lishan Valley, Emperor Qinshihuang ordered them to fill the valley from the mountain, More than 700 doctors were buried alive in the valley of Lishan Mountain (the Qin Dynasty changed the ancient prose to think that the seal script was an official, and many Chinese slandered it. The Qin Dynasty affected the world, but called all the students to worship as Lang, with 700 people. It also secretly ordered the winter moon to plant melons in the warm valley of Lishan Mountain. The melons were solid, but it was written to say that the melons were solid. The doctors all over the world said that everyone was different, so all the students looked at them and hid their opportunities. All the students argued about each other, and because they had the opportunity to fill them with earth, they all died.).
Later, Yan shigu of the Tang Dynasty annotated the book of Han, Zhang Shoujie of the Tang Dynasty annotated the historical records (historical records justice), Li Xian, crown prince Zhang Huai of the Tang Dynasty annotated the book of post Han, and Li Shan of the Tang Dynasty annotated the selected works of literature, all of which invariably cited Wei Hong. It can be seen that Wei Hong’s new theory of “pitching Confucianism” was very popular in the Tang Dynasty.
There is a great difference between the two theories. The “entrapment of Confucian scholars” recorded in the historical records is that the alchemists deceived the first emperor of Qin, causing the first emperor of Qin to catch and kill warlocks. Wei Hongxin said that the first emperor of Qin was worried about the dissatisfaction of scholars caused by the unified text, so he designed to deceive scholars all over the world to the capital and kill them. The causes of the two theories are different, and the psychological state of carrying out pit killing is different. In the Tang Dynasty, the original theory of fact was replaced by Wei Hong’s new theory, which was widely spread. This shows that after the Tang Dynasty, Qin Shihuang’s “pit warlock” was subjected to unprecedented social criticism.
So, how should we evaluate “burning books and pitching Confucianism”?
From a positive point of view, “burning books and pitching Confucianism” is actually a political movement in the field of unified thinking. After the first emperor of Qin destroyed the six kingdoms, he abolished the feudal system politically and implemented the system of prefectures and counties; Culturally, the characters were unified with small seal characters; In terms of economy and finance, we should unify money and weights and measures. These political, economic and cultural measures are the fundamental requirements for national unity. However, during the Warring States period, the contending state of a hundred schools of thought still existed with its inertia, and the Qin Empire still did not form a unified ideological field. In the long run, only by unifying our thinking can we ensure that unified measures in the political, economic, cultural and other fields are more effective. Compared with the prevailing Confucianism and Legalism at that time, Confucianism was conservative. After Qin Shihuang unified the world, various measures taken were innovative, new things, and did not conform to the Confucian concept. Therefore, people talked about it one after another. At that time, the nobles of the six countries also wanted to use Confucianism to restore the enfeoffment system of the Zhou Dynasty, so as to gain lost power. Therefore, for the newly unified Qin Dynasty, the unified thought is the key measure to maintain the great unification. Chunyu’s challenge at the Xianyang Temple of Yue and the deceit and slander of several magicians made Qinshihuang find an excuse and entry point to carry out the ideological movement. As a result, a cultural movement to unify his thoughts was staged. Although the means were too fierce and the treatment of all living beings was too cruel, he quickly unified his thoughts in a short time.
The book burning incident is a purposeful cultural autocracy. Although the Confucian entrapment incident is impulsive, it is a more typical cultural autocracy to control public opinion by massacre. Chunyu Yue’s fault is that he took the first emperor of Qin as Ying Zheng, and used his “Tao” to collide with the “potential” of the first emperor of Qin. This shows that the doctors of Qin Dynasty have not had time to adapt to the cultural autocracy of Qinshihuang. In fact, the first emperor of Qin did not really intend to eliminate Confucianism. What he burned was only reactionary Confucian scriptures hidden among the people. Many Confucian works were consciously preserved by the National Library at that time. Huang Shimu, a native of the Qing Dynasty, also said, “the Qin Dynasty banned books from the people, so he could not help being an official. Therefore, the doctor in the neifu had not died.” (Volume V of Yuan Mei’s Suiyuan Shihua) when Sima Qian wrote the historical records, he had read a large number of books in the National Library at that time. The materials cited were not only the hundreds of schools of thought, but also the records of the historians of the feudal states in the pre-Qin period.
To a certain extent, the issue of burning poetry and books to pit warlocks has been magnified. Why? The trend of thought of Confucian scholars in the Han Dynasty and the anger of Confucian scholars over the destruction of ancient books are all the reasons.
Among all ancient books, Wang Chong of the Han dynasty recorded the first true record of Qin Shihuang’s “burning books and pitching Confucianism” in his “Lun Heng Yu Zeng Pian”:
Burnt poems and books start from Chunyu’s admonition to Yue, and the pit Confucian scholars start from Zhusheng to become evil words. There were 467 people who saw the pit. It was said that the pit would kill Confucian scholars. They wanted to destroy poetry and books, and said that the pit would be completely destroyed. This is not true but increased.
There have been different records in history about the number of Qin Shihuang’s scholars and their ways. Among them, there are more than 700 people, 467 people, 464 people, 460 people and so on.
However, no matter what reason Qinshihuang killed 460 people, no matter whether the number was 460 or not, we can be sure of one thing: behind every number was a living life, a living person who could cry, laugh, run and jump. Qinshihuang’s condemnation of these people is only the justice of the victor, not the victory of justice.
The significance of “pitching Confucianism” is not to kill many magicians, but to show the world the cultural policy orientation of the Qin Empire and the established national policy of the cultural autocracy of the Qin Empire. Although the great Qin Empire still retained the doctoral officers, the atmosphere of hundred schools of thought contending and the confrontational discussion of officials in the Warring States period has since disappeared.
History often runs counter to the original intention of the rulers. Qin Shihuang burned poems and books, trapped warlocks, and enforced the policy of cultural autocracy and fooling the people, originally in order to consolidate the rule of the Qin Empire. As a result, the vast majority of scholars stood on the opposite side of the Qin Empire, further lost the hearts of the people, and added a straw to the final demise of the Qin Empire. Therefore, when Chen Sheng and Wu Guang revolted against Qin, many scholars threw themselves into the struggle against Qin and became an important force to overthrow the Qin Empire. This was unexpected when Qinshihuang burned poems and books and pit warlocks.