Xu Gan

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Xu Gan
Philosopher of Han Dynasty
Born 170
Died 217
Traditional Chinese 徐幹
Simplified Chinese 徐干
Pinyin Xú Gàn
Courtesy name Weichang (偉長)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Xu.

Xu Gan (170 - 217) was a philosopher and poet of the late Han Dynasty. He was known in the cohort of the Seven scholars of Jian'an 建安七子 (name of the famous essay by Cao Pi).

He is best known in the West for his discourse on the relationship between the names and actualities, preserved in his treatise Zhonglun, the Balanced Discourses.


Born in Ju prefecture in Beihai county (today the eastern part of Lechang, Shandong), Hu Gan from his youth obtaind reputation for good memory and diligent studies. After the start of Dong Zhuo's rebellion Xu left his residence in Linzi and went into hiding on the Jiaodong peninsula.


  • John Makeham, Name and Actuality in Early Chinese History. State University of New York Press, Albany, 1994.


  • Balanced Discourses: a Bilingual Edition. English translation by John Makeham; Introductions by Dan Shengyuan and John Makeham. Yale University Press, 2002.