History of Philosophy Quarterly 32 (2):217-234 (2015)

Even among those who work in the field of early Chinese philosophy,the name Shen Dao (慎到, ca. 360–285 BCe) rarely calls to mind much of interest, and what it does call up are often simply depictions of him in several of the more famous texts of the time: in the Han Feizi as an advocate of positional power; in the Xunzi as being blinded by a focus on laws; or in the Zhuangzi as one who wished to discard knowledge. Few through the centuries have attempted to examine his philosophical thought in detail, in part because no complete edition of his work has existed since at least the tenth century. Fragments of the work attributed to Shen Dao do, however, still exist, and by examining them we can begin to piece together an understanding of his political philosophy. In doing so, we come to the realization that Shen Dao's ideas are important not only historically but also merit attention from those engaged in constructive political philosophy. In his historical context, Shen Dao was one of the first political thinkers openly to question the tight connection between ethics and politics that was assumed by a range of thinkers in the Confucian and Mohist traditions. In particular, he provides a range of arguments against the state relying on the moral cultivation of even some of its members, focusing not on changing or developing the innate tendencies of human beings but rather on working with the natures humans initially have.
Keywords Shen Dao  Chinese Philosophy  Political Philosophy  Legalism
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References found in this work BETA

Confucian Moral Self Cultivation.Philip J. Ivanhoe - 2000 - Hackett Publishing Company.
Xunzi: The Complete Text.Eric L. Hutton - 2014 - Princeton University Press.
Confucian Moral Self Cultivation.Richard Garner & Philip J. Ivanhoe - 1999 - Philosophy East and West 49 (4):533.
Persistent Misconceptions About Chinese “Legalism”.Paul R. Goldin - 2011 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38 (1):88-104.

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The Shen Tzu Fragments.Tao Shen - 1979 - Oxford University Press.


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