Xu Gan

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Xu Gan
Traditional Chinese 徐幹
Simplified Chinese 徐干
(courtesy name)
Traditional Chinese 偉長
Simplified Chinese 伟长

Xu Gan (171–218), courtesy name Weichang, was a philosopher and poet of the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He was also one of the "Seven Scholars of Jian'an". He is best known in the West for his discourse on the relationship between the names and actualities, preserved in his treatise Zhonglun (中論).


Born in Ju County, Beihai Commandery (east of present-day Lechang, Shandong), Xu Gan developed a reputation for good memory and diligent studies as a youth. Around 189, Xu Gan 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.