Lü Buwei

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Lü Buwei ( Chinese  呂不韋  /  吕不韦 , Pinyin Lǚ Bùwéi ; also Lü Bu We , Lü Bu-wei , Lü Puwei or Lü Pu-wei ; * around 300 BC; † 236 or 235 BC , i.e. at the time Warring States' ) was a Chinese merchant , politician, and philosopher . As a patron of the scholars (philosophers) of his time, he arranged for the writing of the "mixed schools" to be written with the title Spring and Autumn of Lü Buwei .

The businessman and politician

Lü Buwei was a wholesale merchant in Zhao State . It is not known what goods he traded, but his wealth and influence must have been considerable. As a result of armed conflicts between Zhao and the neighboring state of Qin , Prince Zhuangxiang from Qin was held hostage in Zhao. Through Lü Buwei's influence and probably also bribery, 257 BC BC Zhuangxiang return to his homeland Qin, where he was installed as heir to the throne . Lü Buwei accompanied the prince and subsequently became a resident of Qin State. When Zhuangxiang finally 250 BC When he became king in Qin, he made Lü Buwei his chancellor. Lü Buwei thus combined in his person both economic power as a wholesale merchant and political power as state chancellor. This was all the more remarkable because according to the classification as a merchant that was valid at that time, he was still behind scholars, farmers and craftsmen at the lowest social level. After the early death of King Zhuangxiang in 247 BC. BC, Lü Buwei exercised the regency for his underage son Zheng as guardian. Shortly after King Zheng (later First Emperor) took office in 237 BC. He was deposed by this, after which Lü Buwei withdrew into private life. Other sources say that Lü Buwei could only be disempowered after a bloody argument. The reason can be assumed that his almost unlimited influence made him a "state within the state" and that this power factor appeared to many as a danger, and his position attracted numerous envious people who drove his dismissal. Even without a public position, King Zheng and his government believed they saw Lü Buwei as a frightening risk and so the king finally banished him from the country. For fear of a public execution, Lü Buwei put an end to his life himself on the way into exile, probably with poison. However, other sources say that he was poisoned on the way into exile.

The philosopher

At that time it was considered a sign of power and greatness to invite important scholars and artists to your house and thereby gain prestige, sometimes more than 1000 guests were catered for by one house over a longer period of time. Since such generosity swallowed up enormous sums of money and the increasingly impoverished nobility could less and less afford it, wealthy merchants often adopted this practice. Closely related to this was the desired increase in social prestige. Lü Buwei also belonged to this group of patrons; it is reported that he even hosted and entertained 3000 such guests in his house at times. Presumably Lü Buwei requested and received from many of his guests a written or oral summary of their knowledge and insights. Lü Buwei's ambition was to use this multitude of essays to distill a condensed collection of instructions, right actions, laws and rituals in accordance with the cosmic laws - the Lüshi chunqiu (also Lü-shi ch'un-ch'iu, Lü -shi chun-qiu, Lü-sche tschun-tjiu or Lü Schi Tschun Tsiu), in German translation the spring and autumn of Lü Buwei . In a way, it was the world's first encyclopedia , published in 240 or 239 BC. Chr.

The spring and autumn of Lü Buwei cannot be assigned to either Confucianism or Daoism . In the first Chinese catalogs, which were mainly created by Confucianist bibliographers, the work was classified in the category of "mixed scripts". From the point of view of these bibliographers, it was a “hodgepodge of different schools of thought”. Sinologists consider the work to be an indispensable source of important approaches to economic, social and philosophical topics of the 3rd century BC. Chr. Has passed down.



Ink portrait of Liu Guangyun approx. 60 × 40 cm with the title "Jinchao Lü Buwei yinxiang" (1995)

See also

Lüshi chunqiu Benwei - the "culinary" chapter

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Bauer (Sinologist) : Origin and Life Lü Bu Wes . In: Richard Wilhelm : Spring and Autumn of Lü Bu We . Cologne 1979. pp. IX-XVI.
  2. Wolfgang Bauer: Eclecticists and the basic currents of ancient Chinese philosophy . In: Richard Wilhelm: Spring and Autumn of Lü Bu We . Cologne 1979, pp. V-IX.