Amongst the China philosophy researchers and comparative philosophers there is a generally accepted view, that Chinese philosophers, apart from European and Indian ones, give greater significance rather to the practical part of the philosophy, than to the theoretical one. But, that doesn’t mean that theoretical philosophy in China is wholly excluded. On the contrary, it is of great significance for Chinese philosophy. Our purpose here is to point on one aspect of the connection between theoretical and practical philosophy in China, specifically, between ontology and philosophy of politics, that is, the influence that ontology has on philosophy of politics. By this, our intention is not to oppose the above mentioned view, but to underline that, although practical philosophy has a primacy over theoretical philosophy, the latter plays significant role in the creation of practical philosophy, and represents its basis.
In the period from sixth to second century B.C. numerous schools of philosophy developed in China. Therefore, this period is called “period of hundred schools”. Historically, this period belongs to the so called “period of warring states”, when, acquiring certain strength, the various feudal lords separated from the centralist power of China, and became rulers of their small states. These states often waged wars between each other in order to gain as larger territory and greater power as possible, until in the second century B.C. the strongest of them overcame and conquered all the states, and established again central power on whole China. The period of warring states was a good background for developing and flourishing of philosophy. It is the numerous wars and political crisis that caused Chinese philosophers to think about how to live better, so the ethics and the politics came first. The historian Ssu Ma T’an (?-110 A.D.) from the “hundred schools” sets aside six as the most significant ones. Here, we will set aside three most significant out of these six, Confucianism, Taoism and Moism, and will take into consideration their political teaching. However, our purpose here is not to speak of the political teaching of these schools as such, but to find out the connection between ontology and philosophy of politics, that is, the influence of ontology on philosophy of politics in these schools.
It can be said that in these three schools ontology influences in two ways: direct and indirect. The direct influence consists of, on one hand, the opinion that the state and the laws are created by the ontological principle and the ruler represents nothing more than a servant to that ontological principle, and, on the other hand, the opinion that the state, the world and the ontological principle form a unity. There is an indirect influence when we speak of influence from the ethical and anthropological teaching, which themselves emerge from ontology. Ethics and anthropology can be viewed as separate disciplines, so that their influence on philosophy of politics can, likewise, be viewed separately. But, in Chinese philosophy everything begins with ontology, and subsequently the rest of the disciplines are deduced. Therefore, we ascribe any influence of one discipline on another to ontology, and by that, here, ontology indirectly influences that discipline.