The Manchu conquest resulted in a backlash against late Ming political criticism and philosophical speculation. Manchu cultural conservatism is believed by scholars to have given impetus to the rise of kaoju, or evidence-based scholarship. This school of historical and literary study emphasized the empirical exegesis of texts over potentially controversial philosophical speculation during the absolutism of Qing dynasty rule (1644–1911).
State-imposed literary inquisitions, persecutions, and book-burnings of controversial texts apparently prompted scholars to avoid expressing their opinions through writing and encouraged them to settle for conducting less hazardous scholarship, such as textual studies. A political environment preferring political stability to intellectual freedom was not novel in China, and the roots of this tradition of suppression of intellectual freedom had already been planted in the late sixteenth century.