The Zhongshuo 中說 "Explanation of the mean Way" is a philosophical treatise attributed to the Sui period 隋 (581-618) scholar Wang Tong 王通 (584-618). Wang Tong was dismissed from office after submitting a memorial to change the style of government. He withdrew to a private life and started constructing a political treatise by imitating the style of the "Confucian Analects" Lunyu 論語. The text was written down by Wang's sons Wang Fujiao 王福郊 and Wang Fushi 王福時. The book was also the name Wenzhongzi 文中子 "Master Wenzhong", because Wenzhong "the Cultivated-Centered" was the posthumous name of Wang Tong. In the oldest versions, the Zhongshuo was divided into 5 juan "scrolls", later into 10, each of which corresponds to a chapter. There is a postface (xuwen 序文), and an appendix including several different writings: A hereditary biography of Wang Tong, Wenzhongzi shijia 文中子世家, written by Du Yan 杜淹, a discussion between Emperor Taizong 唐太宗 (r. 626-649) and Fang Wei 房魏 about rites and written down by Wang Fushi, the Lun liyue shi 論禮樂事, a postface by Wang Fushi, and a postface by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) commentator Ruan Yi 阮逸.
The tenor of the book is a steadfast position in the middle, in spite of all changes through times. This position is the right way, as Confucius had exlained it, a path on which benevolence and rightenousness are to be exhibited. Tradition is important, but only to perceive the present and how to live in it in the right way, the veneration of the old customs is not seen as an instrument to control modern life, but as a means to respond to changes. If one has discerned what is right, he will automatically do it. All things, positive and negative, have a mutual influence on each other, and can not be treated as separate.
The Zhongshuo is included in the reprint series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Sibu beiyao 四部備要.
Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 1547. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.