By Cynthia Joanne Brokaw

The ledgers of advantage and demerit have been a kind of morality ebook that accomplished surprising and common reputation in China through the 16th and 17th centuries. inclusive of lists of excellent and undesirable deeds, each one assigned a definite variety of benefit or demerit issues, the ledgers provided the desire of divine present to clients "good" adequate to acquire a considerable sum of advantages. via analyzing the makes use of of the ledgers throughout the overdue Ming and early Qing sessions, Cynthia Brokaw throws new gentle at the highbrow and social background of the overdue imperial period. The ledgers initially functioned as publications to salvation for twelfth-century Taoists and Buddhists, yet Brokaw exhibits how the literati of turbulent sixteenth-century China started to use them as aids within the fight for reputable prestige via civil provider examinations. the writer describes how the responses of a few Confucian thinkers to the recognition of the ledgers not just subtle the orthodox Neo-Confucian approach to self-cultivation but in addition printed the intense ambiguity of the vintage Confucian knowing of the connection among destiny and human motion. eventually, she demonstrates that via the tip of the 17th century the ledgers have been used now not rather a lot to facilitate upward mobility as to advertise social balance through prescribing criteria that inspired humans to maintain to their social places.

Originally released in 1991.

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