Sima Tan 司馬談

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談 司馬

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Father of Sima Qian 司馬遷

Occupation: Cinese historian
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Sima Tan 司馬談

Sima Tan

Sima Tan (Chinese: 司馬談; Wade–Giles: Ssu-ma T'an, c. 165 BC – 110 BC) was an early Chinese historian who worked under the Western Han. He studied astronomy with Tang Du, the I Ching under Yang He and Daoism under Master Huang. He held the position of Grand Historian between 140-110 BC. While Sima Tan had begun the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji), he died before it was finished. It was left to his son, Sima Qian, to complete.

An essay by him has survived within the Records of the Grand Historian. In this essay, Sima Tan speaks of six philosophical lineages or "schools" (jia): Confucianism (ru jia), Daoism (dao jia), Legalism (fa jia), Mohism (mo jia), School of Names (ming jia), and Naturalism (yin yang jia)--the central figure of this last "school" being Tsou Yen. This organization of the philosophers of the past into six schools was somewhat original. As for his assessment of these schools, it is rather biased towards Daoism as Sima Tan was a follower of Huang Lao, an early Han form of Daoism.

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Sima Tan 司馬談's Timeline

Age 19
near Hancheng, Shaanxi, China
Age 54