This essay investigates Xunzi's political philosophy of ba dao (Hegemonic Rule). It argues that Xunzi's practical philosophy of ba dao was developed in the course of resolving the tension between theory and practice latent in Mencius's account of ba dao. Its central claim is that contra Mencius who remained torn between his ideal political theory of ba dao and the practical utility and moral value of ba dao, Xunzi creatively re-appropriated ba dao as a "morally decent" (if not morally ideal) statecraft, within the parameter of practical Confucian philosophy. After examining the moral and political value of ba dao in both domestic and international governance, the essay concludes by arguing that Xunzi's defense of ba dao should be understood in the context of what I call "negative Confucianism," without which the realization of the Confucian moral-political ideal (or positive Confucianism) is impossible.
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