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Lai Junnan|Book information Between East and West: Max Weber's Comparative Legal Social History
2023-11-06 [author] Lai Junnan preview:

Book information

Between East and West: Max Weber's Comparative Legal Social History

Author:Lai Junnan

Fudan University Press 2023.8

About the Author

Lai Junnan, male, Doctor of Laws (Peking University), currently an Associate Professor and doctoral supervisor at Fudan University Law School. He used to work in Koguan School of Law, Shanghai Jiaotong University. His main research areas are Chinese legal history, comparative legal history and methodology of legal historiography. He has published the monograph International Law and Late Qing China: Texts, Events, and Politics (Shanghai People's Publishing House, 2015; awarded Science Research Famous Achievement Award in Higher Institution [Humanities and Social Sciences] Youth Award [2020]), translation The Verdict of Battle: The Law of Victory and the Making of Modern War (James Q. Whitman, China University of Political Science and Law Press, 2015), and Talons and Teeth: County Clerks and Runners in the Qing Dynasty (Bradly W. Reed, co-translated with You Chenjun, Guangxi Normal University Press Group, 2021). He has published many papers in Chinese and foreign journals such as Chinese Journal of Law, Modern Chinese History Studies, Academic Monthly, Peking University Law Journal, The Jurist, Tsinghua University Law Journal, Researches in Chinese Economic History, The Qing History Journal and Modern China.


As an encyclopaedic scholar and thinker of the early twentieth century, Max Weber (1864-1920) also devoted a great deal of attention to the study of comparative law. In Weber's original conception, ancient Chinese law was the absolute "other" that mirrored modern Western law, and his "universal legal history" envisioned a quasi-linear legal history of "rationalisation" from Chinese law and Indian law, through ancient Jewish law and medieval Catholic law, to modern Western law (especially German law). However, Weber's in-depth study of the major legal cultures made him realise that the historical facts contradicted this clear picture: there were both "irrationality" and "rationality" in the imperial Chinese law of family property and bureaucracy, whereas in the modern Western private law (even the German private law that Weber most admired) and public law, there are also obvious "irrational" elements that are "anti-capitalist" and "anti-legalistic domination". In defining and describing Eastern and Western law, Weber had to face and deal with these contradictions. The specific way he dealt with them reveals his values, emotions and epistemological limitations. With these limitations clear, we can once again pick up Weber's creative conceptual tools and draw on richer and more impartial contemporary empirical research to initiate a dialogue between theory and experience.

The narration and imagination of ancient and modern, Chinese and Western, similarities and differences are far from immutable in the long course of history. The difference between China and the West is not absolute, and the definition of similarity and similarity often depends on the researcher's own epistemology, which in turn often depends on the realpolitik and economic power comparison, personal experience, and even emotional orientation. In the political and economic situation of the 21st century, we are fully capable of advocating a more equal dialogue between China and the West, as well as a more inclusive construction of legal theories.


Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Universal History: From Ancient China to Modern Western Times

Chapter 3 Discordant Factors from the East: Family Bureaucracy and Chinese Law

Chapter 4 The Internal Fracture of Modern Capitalism: The Binary Opposition in Private Law

Chapter 5 Discovering Irrationality in Modern Politics: Popular Democracy and Karisma

Chapter 6 Reconciling the Irrational: The Constitutional Design of "Leadership Democracy".

Chapter 7 Continuing the Unfinished Business: A Dialogue between Weber's Theory and Qing Dynasty Law

Chapter 8 Conclusions