Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony in Early China

Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony in Early China

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In early China, conceptions of music became important culturally and politically. This fascinating book examines a wide range of texts and discourse on music during this period (ca. 500 100 BCE) in light of the rise of religious, protoscientific beliefs on the intrinsic harmony of the cosmos. By tracking how music began to take on cosmic and religious significance, Erica Fox Brindley shows how music was used as a tool for such enterprises as state unification and cultural imperialism. She also outlines how musical discourse accompanied the growth of an explicit psychology of the emotions, served as a fundamental medium for spiritual attunement with the cosmos, and was thought to have utility and potency in medicine. While discussions of music in state ritual or as an aesthetic and cultural practice abound, this book is unique in linking music to religious belief and demonstrating its convergences with key religious, political, and intellectual transformations in early China."

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  • Hardback | 237 pages
  • 154.94 x 233.68 x 22.86mm | 589.67g
  • State University of New York Press
  • Albany, NYUnited States
  • English, Chinese
  • 1438443137
  • 9781438443133

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Review quote

Brindley s study of music in early China makes an important contribution to our understanding of this highly consequential art form By not limiting its analysis to a specific text or time, the book explores broad-ranging connections that might otherwise remain obscure if limited by now obsolete divisions such as Confucianism or Daoism. "Journal of Chinese Religions" Taking full advantage of the plethora of newly excavated manuscripts, this book is a welcome addition to the study of early Chinese intellectual and cultural history [the book] is an important study that breaks new ground in a regrettably understudied area of Chinese thought. "Journal of Asian Studies" This is an enormous contribution to the field in terms of addressing some early conceptions of music and its social, cultural, and political role in the developing political and cosmic system based on correlative thinking, or as the author puts it, a cosmology of mystical resonance. Joanne D. Birdwhistell, author of "Mencius and Masculinities: Dynamics of Power, Morality, and Maternal Thinking""

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About Erica Fox Brindley

Erica Fox Brindley is Associate Professor of History, Asian Studies, and Religious Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of "Individualism in Early China: Human Agency and the Self in Thought and Politics."

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