Abstract：“Comparison and verification” (参验) was a method to determine the trend of development for things by examining the trace of change of “things /events” on the philosophical basis of the Taoist cyclical view of history. This method had a profound effect on the writings of the Warring States and the Qin and Han Dynasties, and contributed to a writing style that tended to focus on facts and attached great importance to historical experience. Comparison and verification must be conducted “in a mental state of void quietness(虚静心术)”. In order to accurately examine the situations of things and changes of events, this method potentially required the person who made the comparison and verification to remove his subjective impure factors. Therefore, most of such writings had a sober and stern aesthetic temperament. The study of Confucian classics became popular after the mid-Western Han Dynasty, which led to the development of another type of writings “to narrate the virtue of the ancient sages(述圣)” on the basis of the study of Confucian classics, and the importance of “history” in the tradition of writings gradually gave way to “the doctrine of Confucian classics (经义)”. Nevertheless, the method of comparison and verification, together with the characteristics of writings under its influence, still existed in the form of being integrated in the later writings.
Huang Ruoshun. “The Method of Comparison and Verification” and Writings in the Warring States and the Qin and Han Dynasties[J]. Journal of Peking University(Philosophy and Social Sciences), 2022, 59(5): 85-95.