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Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy

Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy

Bryan W. Van Norden

2011 - 289 pp.

Format ISBN Price Qty
Cloth 978-1-60384-469-7
$49.00
Paper 978-1-60384-468-0
$20.00
Examination 978-1-60384-468-0
$3.00

Quick Overview

 “This book is an introduction in the very best sense of the word. It provides the beginner with an accurate, sophisticated, yet accessible account, and offers new insights and challenging perspectives to those who have more specialized knowledge. Focusing on the period in Chinese philosophy that is surely most easily approachable and perhaps is most important, it ranges over of rich set of competing options. It also, with admirable self-consciousness, presents a number of daring attempts to relate those options to philosophical figures and movements from the West. I recommend it very highly.”
    —Lee H. Yearley, Walter Y. Evans-Wentz Professor, Religious Studies, Stanford University

OR

eBook available for $15.95. Click HERE for more information.

 “This book is an introduction in the very best sense of the word. It provides the beginner with an accurate, sophisticated, yet accessible account, and offers new insights and challenging perspectives to those who have more specialized knowledge. Focusing on the period in Chinese philosophy that is surely most easily approachable and perhaps is most important, it ranges over of rich set of competing options. It also, with admirable self-consciousness, presents a number of daring attempts to relate those options to philosophical figures and movements from the West. I recommend it very highly.”
    —Lee H. Yearley, Walter Y. Evans-Wentz Professor, Religious Studies, Stanford University


“A substantial and highly accessible introduction to the indigenous philosophies of China. Van Norden shares his clear distillations of classical Chinese philosophies using conceptual frameworks many will find familiar. This reader-friendly book sets the historical and cultural contexts for the philosophies discussed, and includes appendices, study questions, and imaginative scenarios, which aid us in appreciating some of the most important philosophy ever developed.”
    —Ann Pirruccello, Professor of Philosophy, University of San Diego


“This lucid introduction to early Chinese thought offers historical, textual and conceptual analyses of the schools of Classical Chinese philosophy, illuminating their basic themes, theories, and arguments and providing readers with an intellectual bridge between Chinese and Western thought. Introductory texts such as this are especially needed today, as the study of philosophy faces the challenges of globalization and the urgent need for dialogue among different philosophical traditions.
     “An ideal text for introductory courses, this book will also inspire graduate students, scholars and experts in philosophy in general, and Chinese Philosophy in particular, with its theoretical insights and comparative methodology.”
    —Vincent Shen, Lee Chair in Chinese Thought and Culture, Departments of Philosophy and East Asian Studies, University of Toronto


"This book on philosophers who arose in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty is also an introduction to comparative ways of nonsuperficial thinking both within Chinese tradition and between Chinese tradition and the West. . . . The work is carefully detailed at every philosophically interesting turn, providing, e.g., a detailed discussion of mysticism that does not conflate traditions but sees distinctiveness. Throughout there are translations of technical terms, along with both pinyin and Chinese characters. Chapters conclude with well-crafted review questions. . . . Appendixes on hermeneutics, Chinese language, and the Kongzi are very useful. Summing up: Highly recommended."
    —F. J. Hoffman, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, in Choice


"Van Norden's book is a very good introduction to the classical Chinese thinkers, especially for those interested in the Chinese-Western comparative approach. It is much stronger on the Confucians (especially Mengzi and Xunzi), Mozi, and the school of names than on the Daoists, and I highly recommend it as an introductory text for further study in Confucianism."
    —Alexus McLeod, Philosophy Department, University of Dayton, in Dao

 

"Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy provides a lucid and comprehensive introduction to the philosophical debates of the warring states period. Van Norden does an admirable job of underscoring what is different and unique in Chinese philosophy while suggesting ways in which Chinese philosophers and western philosophers might engage in dialogue.
   "Chapters are broken up into manageable-sized pieces and the review questions and appendixes on the Chinese language are very helpful."
    —Andrew Colvin, Department of Philosophy, Slippery Rock University

 

About the Author:

Bryan W. Van Norden is Professor in the Philosophy Department, and in the department of Chinese and Japanese, at Vassar College.


 

CONTENTS:

 Preface
Map of China
Selected Translations
Selected Secondary Works

1. THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT
    I. Myth
    II. Early History
    III. The Period of the Philosophers
    IV. Timeline

2. KONGZI AND CONFUCIANISM
    I. Kongzi’s Social Context and Life
    II. Five Themes of Confucianism
        1. Happiness in the Everyday World
        2. Revivalistic Traditionalism
        3. The Family and Differentiated Caring
        4. Ritual and Functionalism
        5. Ethical Cultivation

3. KONGZI AND VIRTUE ETHICS
    I. Three Normative Theories
    II. Confucianism as Virtue Ethics
        1. Living Well
        2. The Virtues
        3. Ethical Cultivation and Human Nature
    III. Limitations of Confucianism
    IV. Kongzi’s Particularism

4. MOHIST CONSEQUENTIALISM
    I. The Fixed Standard of Consequentialism
    II. Criticisms of Confucianism
    III. Political Philosophy
    IV. Divine Command Theory
    V. “Against Fatalism” and Dialectic
    VI. “On Ghosts” and Truth
    VII. Historical Significance

5. YANG ZHU AND EGOISM
    I. What Is Egoism?
        1. Psychological Egoism
        2. Ethical Egoism
    II. What Is the Nature of a Thing?
    III. Early Debates over Yang Zhu’s Way
    IV. The Contemporary Debate

6. MENGZI AND HUMAN NATURE
    I. The Mohists, Profit, and Impartiality
    II. Yang Zhu and Human Nature
    III. The Virtues
    IV. Ethical Cultivation
    V. Cosmology
    VI. Historical Significance

7. LANGUAGE AND PARADOX IN THE “SCHOOL OF NAMES”
    I. Deng Xi and the Origins of the “School”
    II. Hui Shi 103
    III. Gongsun Long
    IV. The Later Mohists
        1. Resolving the Paradox of Deng Xi
        2. Resolving the Paradoxes of Hui Shi
        3. Resolving the White Horse Paradox
        4. The New Foundation of Mohist Ethics
        5. The Limits of Logic
    V. Historical Significance

8. THE DAODEJING AND MYSTICISM
    I. Myth and Reality
    II. Five Themes
        1. Social Ills and Their Solution
        2. Nonaction
        3. The Teaching Th at Is without Words
        4. The Way
        5. Mysticism
    III. Historical Significance

9. ZHUANGZI’S THERAPEUTIC SKEPTICISM AND RELATIVISM
    I. Zhuangzi’s Context
    II. Skepticism
    III. Relativism
    IV. Detachment in Society, Not from Society
    V. Nonaction
    VI. Doctrine or Therapy?
    VII. Conventional or Radical?
    VIII. Historical Significance

10. XUNZI’S CONFUCIAN NATURALISM
    I. Xunzi’s Context
    II. Naturalism and Ritual
    III. History and Objectivity
    IV. Human Nature and Psychology
    V. Ethical Cultivation
    VI. Historical Significance

11. HAN FEIZI
    I. Life and Context
    II. Critique of Confucianism
    III. The Five Elements of Han Feizi’s Theory of Government
        1. The Power of Position
        2. Administrative Methods
        3. Laws
        4. The Two Handles of Government
        5. The Way of the Ruler
    IV. The Question of Amoralism
    V. Historical Significance

12. LATER CHINESE THOUGHT
    I. Qin Dynasty
    II. Han through Six Dynasties
    III. Sui through the Ming
    IV. Qing through Mao Zedong
    V. China Today and Tomorrow

APPENDIX A: Hermeneutics, or How to Read a Text
    I. Faith and Suspicion
    II. “Our” Worldview and “Theirs”

APPENDIX B: The Chinese Language and Writing System
    I. The Five Types of Chinese Characters
    II. Spoken Chinese
    III. Radicals and Dictionaries
    IV. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
    V. For Further Reading

APPENDIX C: Kongzi as Systematic Philosopher
    I. The “One Th read” of Analects 4.15
    II. The “Rectifi cation of Names” of Analects 13.3
    III. The “Broadening of the Way” of Analects 15.29
    IV. Conclusion

Sources for Facts and Myths
Illustration Credits
Endnotes