Why China’s first academic fraud occurred: usurpation of power in the late Western Han Dynasty

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Last year, the attack on Fang Zhouzi, a mainland “academic crackdown on counterfeiting” fighter, made a lot of noise, and the breaking of the case made people temporarily relieved. In recent years, with the growing trend of fraud in academia, some righteous people have also stepped up to help. In fact, there have been academic crackdowns in ancient China, and Fang Zhouzi is not the first.

Confuse the distinction between “male” and “King”

When commenting on Shangshu, Liu Xin, a Western Han literator, said that the Regent of Zhou GongDan assisted the young Lord in the Western Zhou Dynasty, he used the names of “Gong” and “Wang” at the same time. If you don’t delve into it, there seems to be no problem. But more than a thousand years later, song Xiangfeng, a scholar in the Qing Dynasty who was obsessed with exegesis, found a big problem – Liu Xin was faking. In the Shang and Zhou dynasties, there was a strict distinction between “Gong” and “Wang”. In that year, Zhou GongDan assisted the government because King Wu had just died. King Cheng, the son of King Wu, was young, the political situation was unstable, and the court was turbulent. When he grew up as a king, Zhou GongDan returned the power to King Cheng. Therefore, the loyal Duke of Zhou can only be called “Gong”, and must not be called “King”, otherwise it will be suspected of usurping power.

In fact, this is not Liu Xin’s clerical error, but intentional. Because Liu Xin was a popular man under Wang Mang at that time, and Wang Mang, who attempted to usurp the Han Dynasty, compared himself to Duke Zhou and became the “Duke of Han” of the Western Han Dynasty, Liu Xin deliberately confused the words “Duke” and “King” to create public opinion for his Master Wang Mang to usurp the throne. Behind this word difference, there is the evil intention of Wang Mang to usurp the Han Dynasty, and Liu Xin has become a follower of Wang Mang’s political conspiracy. After Wang Mang exterminated the Western Han Dynasty and became emperor, Liu Xin was deeply involved in the political vortex and could not extricate himself, which was also an important reason why this master of Chinese studies was criticized by later generations.

Change your name on the Scripture

In the late Eastern Han Dynasty, the imperial court was corrupt and eunuchs were autocratic. Due to the mistakes in the official selection system, some scholars cheat and muddle through from time to time. In order to get the appreciation of those in power, they took risks, bribed the court ministers, and signed their names after slightly changing the words on some scriptures. In this way, they naturally became authorities. So that later, “all living beings competed for profits, and the author was in a uproar”. Some honest intellectuals were filled with righteous indignation and suggested to the emperor to crack down on counterfeits. The writer Cai Yong and others also put forward two suggestions to combat counterfeiting: first, abolish some official selection methods that are easy to cheat; Secondly, starting from the source, publish various classics to reduce the possibility of fraud. Emperor Hanling adopted the second point, and soon called on some famous scholars to regulate all kinds of scriptures and ancient books, which were engraved on stone tablets and published in the world.

In the Wei and Jin Dynasties, although the political situation was unstable, the ideological and cultural aspects developed rapidly. At that time, many scholars admired the theory of Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi and scrambled to annotate Taoist classics such as Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi. Among them, Zhuangzi annotated by Xiang Xiu, one of the “Seven Sages of the bamboo forest”, has a unique style, and Shishuoxinyu once commented on its “wonderful analysis, wonderful and mysterious style”. It’s a pity that he died of illness before he finished commenting. Later, Guo Xiang, a metaphysician in the Western Jin Dynasty, also annotated Zhuang Zi, quoting many views of Xiang Xiu, but did not explain it. It should be said that the Zhuangzi annotated by Guo Xiang is Xiang Xiu’s “description and generalization”, “seeing that Xiu Yi did not spread to the world, he stole it as his Annotation”. Therefore, although Guo Xiang is a well-known metaphysician who studies Lao Zhuang, his practice of quoting Xiang Xiu’s point of view without specifying the source is still criticized by later generations.

Qianlong’s poems are mostly written by others

Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty was a man who liked to be artsy. He was obsessed with writing poems all his life. He retained more than 40000 poems in total, but few of them were of high quality. In fact, many of Qianlong’s poems were written by others, and some poems of good quality were mostly polished by the imperial literary ministers. Among them, the great scholar Shen Deqian made the most outstanding contributions, so Shen Deqian was favored by Qianlong during his lifetime. After Shen Deqian’s death, when his disciples sorted out his works, they also included the poems he wrote for Qianlong, which made Qianlong angry and angry. They ordered Shen Deqian’s body to be dug out and beaten, and also checked Shen Deqian’s home. It can be seen that academic fraud is not enough for outsiders.

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