Do you agree with Chen Shou on Jiang Wei?

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Do you agree with Chen Shou?

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Do you agree with Chen Shou on Jiang Wei?

Unread postby Lu Kang » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:09 pm

I just came across Chen Shou's "appraisal" of Jiang Wei. This appears at the end of the scroll his biography appears in.

Chen Shou's SGZ wrote:Jiang Wei was unrefined in letters and strategy. His ambition was to establish his works and reputation, and he manipulated the masses and went forth [on campaigns]. Good judgement was not obtained, and in the end, it led to his downfall. The Laozi says, "Governing a large state is like cooking a small fish." How could he be so petty in all aspects and cause so much chaos?

I find that I agree with this statement greatly. Do you agree with Chen Shou?
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Unread postby Xiahou Mao » Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:13 pm

I not only agree with it, but I've been arguing that that was the case for the last year or two. ;)

Jiang Wei was more concerned with his own welfare than that of his state (hence why he defected several times). He was ambitious and desired to become famous, thus causing him to take risks that shouldn't have been taken, and waste resources in an attempt to earn himself great victory. Even in the end when he tried to rebel against Wei one last time, ostensibly to "restore Shu-Han", he did so in a reckless fashion that caused the death of the Crown Prince, who wasn't involved. Wouldn't it have been convenient had Jiang Wei's revolt succeeded for Liu Chan and his heir to be killed in the process? I wonder, who would then wind up ruling the resulting state?

The response from Jiang Wei to his mother when she wrote asking him to come home says a lot about his personality and goals. Valuing ambition over filial piety in those times was something you didn't see often. Xu Shu left Liu Bei simply because he thought his mother might wind up endangered. Jiang Wei, knowing that his mother was, refused to go to her side.
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Unread postby Sun Gongli » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:22 am

I'm of the same opinion as Xiahou Mao, though I do feel Jiang Wei had a good deal of talent... just simply not nearly enough to take over the work of Zhuge Liang. I also have a more sympathetic view of his apparent lack of filial piety regarding his mother. When fighting over affairs of state, filial piety, while a noble virtue, isn't something that you should let completely guide your actions.
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Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:32 am

I would agree with Chen Shou and the other annotations that argue that Jiang Wei was a fame glory hog. He was careful with money and he was a good general but he didn't have the talent or the personality to be a good commander in cheif
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Unread postby Shi Tong » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:32 am


Do you guys think that he was another Ma Su, in that he looked great on paper and Zhuge Liang put a lot of effort into bringing them into the fold, and yet, in practice they were just not good enough?

Maybe a replacement for Zhuge Liang is just too hard to find...

Maybe he needed several people to fill his boots!!!
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Unread postby Lord Lu Xun » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:02 pm

Shi Tong wrote:
Maybe he needed several people to fill his boots!!!
Well, he did have Jiang Wan and Fei Yi.

I agree with Chen Shou. I've said several times before that Jiang Wei isn't close to the capabilities of both Shu's and Wei's generals.
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Unread postby Wang Can » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:23 pm

Chen Shou's words have the sound of a man of Shu who held some strong and justifiable opinions over who held the blame for the fall of the country. As others have said, Jiang Wei didn't have the talent of a Zhuge Liang or a Deng Ai. That doesn't necessarily mean he's the weak but ambitious character Chen Shou sees him as. At the end of the day, it's a little difficult to evaluate an agreement or disagreement with Chen Shou, since ultimately, our source on the matter is... Chen Shou!

If Jiang Wei was a glory hound, at least he did succeed in that goal, after a fashion. Not many people get discussed this many years on.
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Unread postby Cao Shang » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:47 pm

As a general Jiang Wei is one of the best of Shu and the best they had during that time.
As a politician he is certainly without much skill...

To save Shu a genius on par with Zhuge, or one superior had been needed.
Is he to be blamed for not being such a genius, nah. Because one can't achieve what he simple can not do given the situation, how can he be blamed for Shus downfall.

If some then Liu Shan and Huang Hao are to be blamed for that AND Fei Yi for limiting him, now we never will know what could have been. ;)

At least Jiang Wei can rejoice, some persons still value him. :)
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Unread postby Mikhail » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:31 pm

I can't disagree with the guy who wrote the histories can I?

But with that said, the tone of his writing suggests that Chen Shou did not like Jiang Wei one bit, regardless if he thought that Boyue was the reason for the Fall of Shu. Still though, that last line does kinda seem like he's implying that he doesn't think that Boyue was the man to blame.

But re-reading that "appraisal" does remind me a bit about Liu Bei, depending on how you look at him.
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Unread postby Zhilong » Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:58 pm

Xiahou Mao wrote:
The response from Jiang Wei to his mother when she wrote asking him to come home says a lot about his personality and goals. Valuing ambition over filial piety in those times was something you didn't see often. Xu Shu left Liu Bei simply because he thought his mother might wind up endangered. Jiang Wei, knowing that his mother was, refused to go to her side.

Ambition over family is nothing new. There is a well known chinese idiom that duty to your ruler and loyalty to ones family often cannot be reconciled.

Alot of great ppl were jerks to members of their family but achieved great things: Liu Bei, Liu Bang, Qin Shi Huang, Li Shimin, Duke Wen of Jin, Yongzheng.

It tells us he was a crappy son but a determined official.
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