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Chinese Philosophy

Edited by JeeLoo Liu (California State University, Fullerton)
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Summary Chinese philosophy is built on the metaphysical assumption that qi (traditionally translated as “material force” or “vital energy”) pervades the Universe and all things are composed of qi. This ontology leads to a conception of the world as an organic whole, in which everything is interconnected – from nature to the human world, from inorganic objects to sensible things. Chinese philosophers had a purely this-worldly concern; their goal was to improve on the world given. Originated in the primitive form of nature worship, ancient Chinese developed a sense of admiration and affection towards the natural world around them. This religious spirit prompted a philosophical pursuit of the order of the universe and the ontological foundation for all existence. Ancient Chinese thinkers had an intense desire to find the best way to make the right political decisions, to alleviate social problems, and to properly conduct themselves. Sociopolitical philosophy and ethics are thus the two core areas in Chinese philosophy. At the same time, since social structure, political polity and human conduct should all cohere with the cosmic order, Chinese philosophy is fundamentally rooted in its cosmology. This cosmology is manifested mostly in the philosophy of the Yijing. Chinese cosmology is built on the belief that there is a cosmic order or cosmic pattern, which serves not only as the source for all existence, but also as the governing rule for all cosmic developments. This pattern was commonly referred to as ‘Dao’ by ancient philosophers. The pursuit ofDao would become an ultimate goal shared by all Chinese philosophers. Under the holistic cosmic picture, the cosmic order also governs human affairs. Consequently, Dao takes on a normative connotation: it signifies the right way for human affairs and the normative principle for human conduct. In this sense, Daostands for the highest moral precept for human beings. There are three main branches in Chinese philosophy – Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. Each school has its distinct answer to the quest of ultimate reality and the roles humans should play in this world. To educate others what constitutes virtue and to inspire others to act in accordance with Dao, was thus the self-assigned mission for most Chinese philosophers.
Key works The first systematic introduction to Chinese philosophy is the two-volume set Fung Yu-lan 1997, first published in the 1930s. This book is arguably the most influential introduction to the history of Chinese philosophy, even though some of Fung’s analyses are often contested by contemporary Chinese scholars. The two-volume set has been translated into English by Derk Bodde (Feng 1983). A condensed and more accessible version of Fung’s History is also translated by Derk Bodde (Feng 1948). Among Chinese scholars, Lao 2005’s thee-volume (in four books) set is widely respected and frequently consulted. A more recent and analytic introduction to Chinese philosophy is Liu 2006. This book does not cover the history of Chinese philosophy beyond Chinese Buddhism, however. Mou 2008 has a more comprehensive coverage of all eras in the history of Chinese philosophy, but at the cost of sacrificing philosophical details. For readers who cannot read primary Chinese texts, Chan 1963 is a good source of representative selections of Chinese philosophical works.
Introductions

Chan 1963 provides a comprehensive coverage and fairly representative selections of all major philosophers or philosophical schools in Chinese history. The editor provides succinct introductions for each selection. It is a must-have sourcebook for scholars who can read only English, even though the old-fashioned Wade-Giles spelling of Chinese names in this book could create confusion for beginners.  

Feng 1983 provides a comprehensive coverage of various schools in the history of Chinese philosophy. At times, the introduction is packed with quotes, with little analysis. It is nonetheless an authoritative introduction to this date.

Feng 1948 is not just an abridgment of Feng 1983. Fung wrote this short history with the aim to give a complete picture of Chinese philosophical history in a nutshell. This book is far more accessible and interesting than Feng 1983. Originally published in New York: Macmillan, 1948.

Lao Ssu-Kwang勞思光, Xinbian Zhongguo Zhexue Shi新編中國哲學史. 3 volumes. Guangxi, China: Guanxi shifandaxue chubanshe, 2005.

There is no English translation of this three-volume set. This is a revised version of Lao’s famed History of Chinese Philosophy (Zhongguo zhexue shi 中國哲學史), originally published in Hong Kong: Youlian chubanshe, 1968. Lao’s History provides detailed logical analysis of the philosophical problems and theories of all the schools covered in this book. It is widely referred to by Chinese scholars.

Liu 2006 provides an up-to-date introduction to Chinese philosophy in the analytic style. In its analysis of primary texts, it also reflects topics and discourses on Chinese philosophy in contemporary scholarship in English. The scope of this book covers classical philosophical schools and four major schools in Chinese Buddhism.

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  1. S. C. A. (1978). Discourse on the Natural Theology of the Chinese. Review of Metaphysics 32 (2):364-364.
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  2. S. C. A. (1974). Chinese Science. Review of Metaphysics 27 (4):805-805.
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  3. S. C. A. (1974). Masters of Chinese Political Thought. Review of Metaphysics 27 (4):793-793.
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  4. Joseph A. Adler (2015). Minford, John, Trans., I Ching : The Book of Change. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 14 (1):147-152.
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  5. Joseph A. Adler (2013). Wang, Robin R., Yinyang: The Way of Heaven and Earth in Chinese Thought and Culture. [REVIEW] Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (4):561-565.
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  6. Joseph A. Adler (2003). Varieties of Spiritual Experience: Shen in Neo-Confucian Discourse. In Weiming Tu & Mary Evelyn Tucker (eds.), Confucian Spirituality. Crossroad Pub. Company. 2--120.
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  7. Zhou Ailian & Hu Zhongliang (2009). The Project of Organizing the Qing Archives. Chinese Studies in History 43 (2):73-84.
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  8. Deng Aimin (1986). Wang Shouren's Idealist Pantheistic World View. Contemporary Chinese Thought 17 (4):35-83.
    Wang Shouren affirmed that "the teachings of the sages are nothing but the teaching of mind" . He believed that Lu Jiuyuan, in proposing the formulation that the mind equals principle, continued the legacy of the teaching of the mind that had begun in China with the teaching of Yao, Shun, and Yu and which was exemplified in the saying "The human mind is always in peril; the mind of the natural Way is always hidden; emphasize essentiality, emphasize unity; maintain (...)
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  9. Deng Aimin (1983). On Zhu Xi'S Metaphysical Theory of "Investigating Things" [Gewu]. Contemporary Chinese Thought 14 (3):35-96.
    In order to establish his "school of principle" system of thought, which was founded on objective idealism, Zhu Xi proposed a theory of "investigating things and exhausting principles" [gewu qiongli]. This became the epistemological foundation for his system of thought. This epistemology formed an organic whole with his world view. On the one hand, his "theory-of-investigating-things" epistemology opened up pathways for his system of objective idealism; on the other hand, his "school-of-principle" system formed the theoretical foundation for his epistemology of (...)
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  10. William Keli’I. Akina (2012). Roger T. Ames's Confucian Role Ethics: A Model of Treating the Text on Its Own Terms. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 7 (4):600-603.
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  11. F. O. X. Alan (2005). Process Ecology and the "Ideal"Dao. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 32 (1):47–57.
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  12. Barry Allen (2014). Daoism and Chinese Martial Arts. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 13 (2):251-266.
    The now-global phenomenon of Asian martial arts traces back to something that began in China. The idea the Chinese communicated was the dual cultivation of the spiritual and the martial, each perfected in the other, with the proof of perfection being an effortless mastery of violence. I look at one phase of the interaction between Asian martial arts and Chinese thought, with a reading of the Zhuangzi 莊子 and the Daodejing 道德經 from a martial arts perspective. I do not claim (...)
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  13. Barry Allen (2011). The Cloud of Knowing Blurring the Difference with China. Common Knowledge 17 (3):450-532.
    In this monograph-length article, which inaugurates a multipart symposium titled “Fuzzy Studies,” the significance and virtues of blur are investigated through the whole history of Chinese intellectual tradition. In the Western tradition, the blur of becoming seems to disqualify an object for knowledge; nothing can be an object of knowledge until the blur is resolved and clarity attained. Chinese tradition offers suggestive examples of the thought that blur, so far from being incompatible with knowledge, might be its condition of possibility (...)
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  14. Barry Allen (2009). Worrying About China: The Language of Chinese Critical Inquiry. Common Knowledge 15 (2):219-220.
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  15. John AllenTucker (2004). Art, the Ethical Self, and Political Eremitism: Fujiwara Seika's Essay on Landscape Painting. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 31 (1):47–63.
  16. V. Alleton (1981). Terms of Address in Contemporary Chinese. Diogenes 29 (116):40-69.
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  17. Yanming An (2013). Taking Confucian Ethics Seriously. Edited by Kam‐Por Yu , Julia Tao , and Philip J. Ivanhoe . (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010. 233 Pp. Hardback, ISBN10 1‐4384‐3315‐8. Paperback, ISBN13 978‐1‐4384‐3315‐8.). [REVIEW] Journal of Chinese Philosophy 40 (2):359-364.
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  18. Aw Anderson (1990). The Seasonal Structure Underlying the Arrangement of Hexagrams in the Yijing'. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 17 (3):275-299.
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  19. Stephen Angle (2010). Book Review. [REVIEW] Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 9:353-357.
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  20. Stephen C. Angle (2013). Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy. Polity.
    This book provides an accessible introduction to the main perspectives and topics being debated today, and shows why Progressive Confucianism is a particularly promising approach.
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  21. Stephen C. Angle (2013). Reply to Critics. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (3):381-388.
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  22. Stephen C. Angle (1999). Guest Editors' Introduction. Contemporary Chinese Thought 31 (1):3-10.
    The past decade has seen a vigorous discussion of human rights both within China and between China and other nations. It is easy to think of China as a latecomer to human rights discourse, in part because during most of the post-1949 period, rights and human rights were taboo subjects in the People's Republic. In fact, however, there was a rich and contested debate on rights throughout the first half of this century. By translating the most important pre-1949 essays on (...)
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  23. Lin Anwu (2009). Liang Shuming and His Theory of the Reappearance of Three Cultural Periods. Contemporary Chinese Thought 40 (3):16-38.
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  24. David Archard (1996). Filial Morality. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 77 (3):179-192.
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  25. Robert Cornell Armstrong (1914). Light From the East. Studies in Japanese Confucianism. University of Toronto.
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  26. Johann P. Arnason (1997). The Southeast Asian Labyrinth: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. Thesis Eleven 50 (1):99-122.
    In the Southeast Asian context, the questions of civilizational identity and civilizational premises of modernity cannot be posed in the same way as with regard to China or India. From a long-term perspective, the most salient features of the region have to do with intercivilizational encounters and their local ramifications. As the debate on `Indianization' has shown, Southeast Asian traditions took shape in active interaction with dominant external models, and it is a flexible combination of imported and local patterns that (...)
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  27. Tomomi Asakura (2014). Philosophy of Doctrinal Classification: Kōyama Iwao and Mou Zongsan. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 13 (4):453-468.
    Doctrinal classification or the panjiao 判教 system of Chinese Buddhism has been rediscovered and renewed in modern East Asian philosophy since both the Kyoto School and New Confucianism clarified the philosophical meaning of this intellectual tradition. The theoretical relation between these two modern reconsiderations, however, has not yet been studied. I analyze the theory of panjiao in Kōyama Iwao 高山岩男 and Mou Zongsan 牟宗三 so as to identify and extract, despite their apparent irrelevance, the same type of philosophical argument concerning (...)
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  28. Geoffrey Ashton (2014). Role Ethics or Ethics of Role-Play? A Comparative Critical Analysis of the Ethics of Confucianism and the Bhagavad Gītā. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 13 (1):1-21.
    Both Confucianism and the Bhagavad Gītā emphasize the moral authority of social roles. But how deep does the likeness between these ethical philosophies run? In this essay I focus upon two significant points of comparison between the role-based ethics of Confucianism and the Gītā: (1) the interrelation between formalized social roles and family feeling, and (2) the religious dimension of moral action. How is it that Confucians ground their social roles in family feeling, while the Gītā emphasizes rupture between role (...)
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  29. Iep Author, Chinese Philosophy: Overview of Topics.
    Chinese Philosophy: Overview of Topics If Chinese philosophy may be said to have begun around 2000 B.C.E., then it represents the longest continuous heritage of philosophical reflection. Trying to mention each philosopher or every significant thinker is not possible. This article is highly selective by choosing philosophers according to two basic principles: Those who … Continue reading Chinese Philosophy: Overview of Topics →.
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  30. Sidney Axinn (2006). The First Western Pragmatist, Immanuel Kant. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 33 (1):83–94.
  31. Tongdong Bai (2012). China: The Political Philosophy of the Middle Kingdom. Zed Books.
    But what is the message of China's rise as an economic and political power? Tongdong Bai addresses this pressing question by examining the history of political theories and practices from China's past, and showing how it impacts upon the present. Chinese political traditions are often viewed as "authoritarian" (in contrast with "Western" democratic traditions), but the historical reality is much more complex and there is a need to understand the political values shaping China. Bai argues that the debates between China's (...)
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  32. Tongdong Bai (2012). Philosophy of China. In Gerald F. Gaus & Fred D'Agostino (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy. Routledge. 181.
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  33. Xi Bai (2007). Xian Qin Zhe Xue Chen Si Lu =. Zhongguo She Hui Ke Xue Chu Ban She.
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  34. Yun Bai (2011). Zhongguo Shi Xue Si Xiang Tong Lun. Fujian Ren Min Chu Ban She.
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  35. Wu Baihui (1986). Dialectical Thought in Ancient India. Contemporary Chinese Thought 17 (4):84-108.
    When we study Indian teachings on logic, we have customarily confined ourselves to the study of its formal logic, i.e., Nyaya and Hetu-vidya . We have seldom dealt with India's dialectical thought and its mode of logic. In fact, India's dialectical logical thought is even more ancient than its formal logic; it was produced before the emergence of Buddhism in the sixth century B.C. By the time of Buddhism, Indian dialectical thinking had already come to possess a rather complete theory (...)
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  36. Yao Baimao (1984). On the Position of the Category of Transformation in Dialectics. Contemporary Chinese Thought 16 (1):62-77.
    What position does the category of transformation hold in materialist dialectics? Arguments prevalent in the past ascribed it to the identity of contradiction, viewing it as an implication of identity. Comrades Rong Kaiming and Lai Chuanxiang published in the fourth issue of Philosophic Studies of 1983 an article entitled "Transformation Is a Relatively Independent Overall Category," which offers a different view. The article holds that the process of transformation itself is not an implication of the identity of contradiction but that (...)
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  37. R. Bain (1979). The Concept of Man in Contemporary China. Telos 1979 (42):205-207.
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  38. Don Baker (2013). Finding God in the Classics: The Theistic Confucianism of Dasan Jeong Yagyong. [REVIEW] Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (1):41-55.
    Dasan J eong Yagyong (1762–1836) is regarded in South Korea today as one of pre-modern Korea’s best philosophers. This article examines one of the reasons he is so respected. He modified traditional Korean Confucian moral philosophy to include notions of human nature as desires rather than innate virtue, the importance of free will rather than mere determination, and the existence of a Lord Above as a necessary incentive to proper behavior. Though he supported these changes to traditional Korean Confucian philosophy (...)
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  39. Wang Bangwei (2010). Buddhist Connections Between China and Ancient Cambodia : Srama a Mandra's Visit to Jiankang. In Hans Joas (ed.), The Benefit of Broad Horizons: Intellectual and Institutional Preconditions for a Global Social Science: Festschrift for Bjorn Wittrock on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday. Brill.
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  40. Pengshan Bao (2010). Kongzi Shi Zen Yang Lian Cheng De. Zhongguo Min Zhu Fa Zhi Chu Ban She.
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  41. He Baogang (2003). Why Is Establishing Democracy So Difficult in China? Contemporary Chinese Thought 35 (1):71-92.
    China now faces a national identity problem, that is, sections of the national population do not identify with the Chinese nation-state in which they live. Tibetans, for example, endeavor to create their own political identity through the reconstruction of a Tibetan cultural and ethnic identity. China's national identity problem also involves the question of reunification with Taiwan. In Taiwan, both the Guomindang and the Democratic Progressive Party governments have refused to reunify with China. The question of Taiwan and Tibet are (...)
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  42. Wang Baoxuan (2005). The Study of Ancient and Modern Text Classics: Dispute and Implications. Contemporary Chinese Thought 36 (4):58-81.
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  43. Wang Baoxuan (2000). A Discussion of the Composition Dates of the Various Guodian Chu Slip Texts and Their Background. Contemporary Chinese Thought 32 (1):18-42.
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  44. Chen Baoya (2001). An Analysis of the Conceptions of Language in the Twentieth-Century's Philosophy of Language. Contemporary Chinese Thought 32 (3):32-45.
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  45. Chen Baoya (2001). The Two Modes of Language Influencing Cultural Spirit. Contemporary Chinese Thought 32 (3):71-86.
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  46. Louis A. Barth (1984). Contemporary Chinese Philosophy. Edited by Frederick J. Adelmann. Modern Schoolman 62 (1):55-56.
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  47. Louis A. Barth (1973). "Classics in Chinese Philosophy From Mo Tzu to Mao Tse-Tung," by Wade Baskin. Modern Schoolman 51 (1):81-81.
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  48. Leroy Little Bear (2012). Traditional Knowledge and Humanities: A Perspective by a Blackfoot. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 39 (4):518-527.
    Aboriginal peoples are forever explaining themselves to non-Aboriginal people: telling their stories, explaining their beliefs and ceremonies, and introducing ideas that have never crossed the non-Aboriginal mind. Western knowledge operates from a linear, singular view; it views the world from order beneath chaos; it is very noun oriented; knowledge is about oneself in relation to everything else in a relativistic sense. Aboriginal knowledge has a very different “coming to know.” It is holistic and cyclical; it views the world from chaos (...)
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  49. Olwen Bedford (2011). Guanxi-Building in the Workplace: A Dynamic Process Model of Working and Backdoor Guanxi. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 104 (1):149-158.
    Guanxi is a complex construct of Chinese social interaction. Previous studies have focused on implications of guanxi for business outcomes; few have examined guanxi development, which is the purpose of this study. Two theoretical modes of dynamic guanxi processes in the workplace are proposed: working guanxi and backdoor guanxi . The two modes differ in frequency of interaction, frequency of exchange of favors, and how clear the parties are on what each stands to gain from a particular interaction. Although face (...)
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  50. James Behuniak (2010). Book Review. [REVIEW] Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 9:249-252.
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