The Zhonglun 中論 "Discussions on the mean Way" is a political treatise written by the very late Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) scholar Xu Gan 徐幹. Of the original 6 juan "scrolls", only 2 are preserved, containing 20 chapters. It is known that at least two chapters mentioned in older sources are lost (Fusannian sang 復三年喪, Zhiyi 制役) since the Song period 宋 (960-1279).
The book is traditionally classified as a Confucian treatise because ritual, etiquette and benevolence are stressed as basis for a good government. The development of the right moral background is, from the viewpoint of a ruler or a government, more important than to care for details. Xu Gan criticized the Confucians of his own days that were more occupied with tools, objects, instruments, terms and designations, exegesis and interpretation of the old writings, instead of living a moral life in the Confucian sense. A sincere and upright behaviour has to come first, and the realities of a morally fundamented society will automatically lead to the right designations and regulations made for such a society.
The Zhonglun is included in the collecteana Han-Wei congshu 漢魏叢書, Xiaowanjuanlou congshu 小萬卷樓叢書, Sibu congkan 四部叢刊, Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Congshu jicheng 叢書集成, and Baizi quanshu 百子全書.
Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 1546. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
1. 治學 Zhixue The teachings of government
2. 法象 Faxiang The expression of laws
3. 脩本 Xiuti Self-cultivation
4. 虛道 Xudao The way of the void
5. 貴驗 Guiyan Precious experience
6. 貴言 Guiyan Precious words
7. 藝紀 Yiji About the classic arts
8. 覈辯 Fubian A debate in response
9. 智行 Zhixing Wise government
10. 爵祿 Juelu Enfeoffment and salaries
11. 考偽 Kaowei Investigating forgery
12. 譴交 Qianjiao Reproaching
13. 曆數 Lishu Calendric calculation
14. 夭壽 Yaoshou Early death and longevity
15. 務本 Wuben The root of duties
16. 審大臣 Shen dachen Investigating grand ministers
17. 慎所從 Shen suo cong Sincere followership
18. 亡國 Wangguo The demise of a dynasty
19. 賞罰 Shangfa Reward and punishment
20. 民數 Minshu The numbering of the people