CHINESE PHILOSOPHY

A SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

By

 

JeeLoo Liu

Professor

California State University, Fullerton

 

Note: The following list reflects the author’s personal preferences and the list should not be considered complete or authoritative.



 

Last updated: September 13, 2013

 

Introduction

General Overviews

Data Sources

Classical Chinese Philosophy (Pre-Qin Philosophy)

Primary Materials

Secondary Materials

Classical Confucianism

Confucius  孔子

Mencius 孟子

Xunzi 荀子

Classical Daoism

Laozi  老子

Zhuangzi, Chuang Tzu莊子

Mohism

Mozi, Mo Tzu墨子

Later Mohism

Chinese Legalism

Hanfeizi韓非子

Yijing, I Ching, The Book of Change 易經

Post-Classical Chinese Philosophy

Neo Daoism

The Huainanzi淮南子

Wang Bi王弼

Guo Xiang郭象

Chinese Buddhism

The Consciousness-Only (Wi-Shi) School  唯識宗

The Tiantai School  天台宗

The Huayan School, the Hua-yen School  華嚴宗

The Chan School (Zen Buddhism) 禪宗

Chinese Neo-Confucianism

Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism 宋明理學

Zhou Dunyi  周敦頤

Shao Yong邵雍

Zhang Zai張載

Cheng Hao 程顥and Cheng Yi 程頤

Lu Xiangshan 陸象山

Zhu Xi朱熹

Wang Yangming王陽明

Wang Fuzhi王夫之

Qing Neo-Confucianism

Dai Zhen 戴震

Contemporary New Confucianism (20th Century)

Mou Zongsan牟宗三

Tang Junyi 唐君毅

 

INTRODUCTION

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 of Dao 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, Dao stands 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. The Chinese publications on Chinese philosophy are impossible to enumerate, and there are hundreds of books, not to mention articles, on each major school or philosopher. This bibliography is primarily of English texts, with the addition of some noteworthy Chinese texts.   

 

GENERAL OVERVIEWS  

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 (Fung 1983). A condensed and more accessible version of Fung’s History is also translated by Derk Bodde (Fung 1997). 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 2009 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.

 

Chan, Wing-tsit. (ed.) A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963.

This book 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.  

 

Fung Yu-lan 馮友蘭. A History of Chinese Philosophy. Translated by Derk Bodde. 2 vols. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983.

This book 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.

 

Fung Yu-lan馮友蘭. A Short History of Chinese Philosophy. Translated by Derk Bodde.  New York: Free Press, 1997.

This book is not just an abridgement of Fung 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 Fung 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, JeeLoo. An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy: from Ancient Philosophy to Chinese Buddhism. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006.

This book 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.

 

Mou, Bo. History of Chinese Philosophy (Routledge History of World Philosophies). New York: Routledge Publishing, 2009.

This is a collection of essays on different philosophical schools in historical periods. Some chapters are historical overviews instead of philosophical analysis of the philosophical school. The book is sold at a steep price.

 

DATA SOURCES

Research on Chinese philosophy is greatly aided by the electronic rendition of major primary texts in Chinese. For example, the Chinese Text Project **Zhongguo zhexueshu dianzihua jihua 中國哲學書電子化計劃** provides a comprehensive and cross-referenced classical Chinese texts. For texts other than classical Chinese philosophy, one can find hard-to-come-by philosophical texts in Han dynasty at **Wangshang lianghan zhexue jingdian網上兩漢哲學經典**, in Wei-jin philosophy at **Wangshang weijin zhexue jingdian網上魏晉哲學經典**, the most important Chinese Buddhist texts at **Wangshang suitang zhexue jingdian **, selected texts in Neo-Confucianism in the Song-Ming Era at **Wangshang songming zhexue jingdian網上宋明哲學經典**. All these sites are created and maintained by Hong Kong Society of Humanistic Philosophy. With some browsers, one might need to first change the text encoding to Traditional Chinese (Big 5). There are also sites designated to Buddhist texts, such as Chinese Buddhist Electronic Texts *Zhongguo diazi fodian 中國電子佛典[http://www.cbeta.org/index.htm]* maintained by Chinese Buddhist Electronic Texts Association (CBETA) in Taiwan. Since 1970s, there are rapidly increasing publications in English on various topics in Chinese philosophy, though Confucianism remains a dominating research interest. For instance, there are over 6,000 entries of more recent articles on Chinese philosophy at the online research site of *PhilPapers [http://philpapers.org/browse/chinese-philosophy/]*, and those on Confucianism take up one third.

 

*Zhongguo zhexueshu dianzihua jihua中國哲學書電子化計劃[http://ctext.org/zh]*

Even though this site is created and maintained by a PhD student of the University of Hong Kong, its reliability seems to be generally acknowledged. At this time, the electronic books listed in this site are more comprehensive for the classical period. For post-classical periods, the selections include many literary works, but scanty philosophical works, with the exception of the complete Categorized Recorded Sayings of Zhu Xi (Zhuzi Lulei朱子語類) (under Zhu Xi).

 

*Wangshang weijin zhexue jingdian網上兩漢哲學經典[http://www.hkshp.org/cclassic-han.html]*

This site includes complete texts of major works by key philosophers in the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). The site is merely for researches who need a quick look at the texts, as they are not annotated and not searchable within the texts.

 

*Wangshang weijin zhexue jingdian網上魏晉哲學經典[http://www.hkshp.org/cclassic-weijin.html]*

This site includes complete texts of major works by Neo-Daoists such as Ji Kang 嵇康and Wang Bi 王弼and some early Chinese Buddhist texts, such as an important treatise Zhaolun 肇論by Senzhao 僧肇. The texts, however, are tightly aligned horizontally and not searchable.

 

* Wangshang suitang zhexue jingdian網上隋唐哲學經典[http://www.hkshp.org/cclassic-suitong.html]

This site includes major works by leaders of major Chinese Buddhist schools, such as Zhiyi智顗, Du Shun 杜順, Xuanzang 玄奘, Zhiyan 智儼, Huineng 慧能, Fazang 法藏, etc.  For people without the means to acquire these books, the site is useful. The arrangement of the texts makes it hard to read, however. 

 

*Wangshang songming zhexue jingdian網上宋明哲學經典[http://www.hkshp.org/cclassic-songming.html]*

This site includes an impressive list of major works by key Neo-Confucians, but the arrangement of the texts renders them inaccessible. It is useful for quick reference for those who do not have the books. 

 

*Zhongguo diazi fodian 中國電子佛典[http://www.cbeta.org/index.htm]*

This site offers options of online reading or downloads for all Buddhist scriptures free of charge.  The online version is not reader-friendly, but one can download them in different formats.

 

*PhilPapers[http://philpapers.org/browse/chinese-philosophy/]*

This site lists more than 6,000 contemporary research in Chinese philosophy, mostly published in English. PhilPapers is an interactive database managed by David Chalmers and David Bourget, and has become an important research tool for philosophers. The Chinese philosophy site was set up by JeeLoo Liu, with sub-categories divided by philosophers and by topics. Many entries include a brief abstract.  

 

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE PHILOSOPHY (PRE-QIN PHILOSOPHY)

“Classical Chinese philosophy” refers to multifarious schools prospering during two historical periods, both of which came as the result of the decline of the golden age of the Zhou Dynasty (ca. 1122 - 256 B.C.E.). The first period is called “Spring-Autumn” (722 - 481 B.C.E.), and the second period is called “the Warring States” (480 - 222 B.C.E). The classical era ended with Qin Emperor’s unification of China in 333 B.C.E. During both the Spring-Autumn and the Warring States periods, the general populace was frequently threatened with death, starvation and the deprivation of all material possessions. Ancient Chinese philosophy was thus developed amidst political turmoil and social instability, which greatly threatened individual’s peace and survival. Various philosophical schools emerged with different suggestions on how one should conduct oneself in such a sociopolitical setting as well as how rulers could aim to solve the social and political problems. There were allegedly one hundred philosophical schools at the time, while the most influential ones include Confucianism, Daoism, Mohism and Legalism.

 

Primary Materials

A reliable sourcebook in classical Chinese philosophy is Ivanhoe and Van Norden 2003.

 

Ivanhoe, Philip, J. and Bryan W. Van Norden, eds. Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett Publishing Co., 2003.

For readers interested only in classical Chinese philosophy, this anthology is a better choice than Chan’s Source Book (Chan 1963, cited under *General Overviews*). The selections in this book are comparable to, and in some cases better than, those in Chan 1963. One clear advantage of this book is that the rendition of Chinese names and terms are in line with the current Pinyin system.

 

Secondary Materials

Among current English publications on Chinese philosophy, works on classical Chinese philosophy take up close to forty percent. An excellent introduction to classical Chinese philosophy is Benjamin Schwartz’s The World of Thought in Ancient China (Schwartz 1985). A more recent work is Van Norden 2011, which gives a more philosophical analysis than Schwartz 1985 without being more difficult to read. It is a good philosophical introduction to classical Chinese philosophy. Some early and important works on classical Chinese philosophy in English include Graham 1989 and Munro 1969. Graham’s studies on Chinese philosophy were influential among early American scholars working on Chinese philosophy. Munro’s works on Chines philosophy render it more accessible for contemporary readers in that he aims to locate the universal philosophical problems in Chinese philosophy. Slingerland 2011, on the other hand, represents a new interdisciplinary approach among contemporary scholars. A growing interest among Chinese scholars is the study of excavated texts such as the Daodejing, some short Confucian texts, and some parts of the Yijing. In 1970s, archaeologists uncovered some silk books (dating back to the second century BCE) in the family tombs at Mawangdui, in a Chinese city Changsha 長沙. Among these silk books are an ancient medical text, some Daoist texts, and the Yijing. These texts are known as the “Silk Books or Silk Manuscripts (buoshu 帛書).” In the early 1990s, ancient (dating back to 300 BCE) texts written on bamboo strips were accidentally uncovered by grave robbers near a small village Guodian 郭店. These bamboo strips came to be known as the Guodian Bamboo texts (Guodian Zhujian郭店竹簡). There are many books and articles written in Chinese on these excavated texts, but the analysis is often more Sinological than philosophical. In English, Peerenboom 1993 reconstructs the social and political views based on the Silk Books uncovered in 1973; Holloway 2009 reconstructs the worldviews of the time from the Guodian texts. Csikszentmihalyi 2004 analyzes the view of virtue and moral education in some early Confucian texts unearthed both at Mawangdui and in Guodian. For those interested in these ancient texts, there are some English translations of the excavated text of the Daodejing (see Henricks 2005 under *Laozi*) and of the Yijing (See Shaughnessy 1997 under *Yijing*).

 

Csikszentmihalyi, Mark. Material Virtue: Ethics and the Body in Early China. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill Academic Pub. 2004.

The phrase “material virtue” refers to virtue manifested through one’s physiological changes in the body. This book covers materials from excavated Confucian texts. It demonstrates careful scholarship, and provides an interesting perspective on the early Chinese thought about human morality shared by both Confucianism and Daoism. Even with positive reviews shortly after its publication, however, this book has not gotten sufficient attention, probably due to the high cost.

 

Graham, Angus C. The Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China. La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1989.

This book gives a sophisticated but at times hard to follow analysis to several leading schools in classical Chinese philosophy, even including the often ignored Yangists. For serious scholars in Chinese philosophy, this book should be on the reading list.

 

Holloway, Kenneth. Guodian the Newly Discovered Seeds of Chinese Religious and Political Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

This book is based on the excavated texts discovered near Guodian. According to the author, these texts reveal a moral politics shared by both Confucianism and Daoism in ancient times. This is an interesting and important work for those who wish to know the origin of Chinese philosophy.

 

Munro, Donald. The Concept of Man in Early China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1969.

This book contrasts the Confucian concept of man with the Daoist concept of man, and illustrates their fundamentally diverse philosophical assumptions on human nature. The language is lucid and fluid. Even though the book is one of the earlier works on Confucianism in English, its take on early Chinese philosophical roots will have an enduring impact.

 

Peerenboom, R. P. Law and Morality in Ancient China: The Silk Manuscripts of Huang-Lao. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1993.

This book examines the political view in ancient China on the basis of an excavated Daoist text Huang-Lao Boshu discovered in 1973. It explicates the ancient Daoist view on nature as naturalism. This book should be of particular interest to those working on Daoism as well as on Legalism.

 

Puett, Michael J. To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China. Distributed by Harvard University Press. 2002.

This book studies the cosmological and religious views revealed in oracle bones from early Shang dynasty. Even though this is a topic not widely followed, this book provides a new perspective on ancient Chinese worldview.

 

Schwartz, Benjamin. The World of Thought in Ancient China, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1985.

This book gives an insightful and eloquent analysis to major schools in the classical era. It is an excellent work in Chinese intellectual history in that it places the philosophies in their historical contexts.  It is also one of my personal favorites.

 

Slingerland, Edward. “Metaphor and Meaning in Early China.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (1):1-30. 2011.

This paper received the annual best essay award from the journal Dao in 2012.  Like the author’s other works on Chinese philosophy, this paper engages contemporary perspectives and explores new topics in Chinese philosophy.   

 

Van Norden, Bryan W. Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett Publishing Co. 2011.

This introduction explicates each philosopher or philosophical schools in terms of key issues. Its comparative approach to Western philosophy will make readers who are familiar with Western philosophy more at ease in learning about classical Chinese philosophy.

 

CLASSICAL CONFUCIANISM

The Chinese name for the school is Rujia, which refers to a group of intellectuals who embraced the political ideal of sage kings – the marriage between rulership and moral virtues. The English name for the school – Confucianism, is named after its most important advocator – Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.). Classical Confucianism typically refers to three philosophers: Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi as well as the Four Books (the Analects, the Mengzi, Doctrine of the Mean, the Great Learning) and the Five Classics (Yijing, Records of Rites, the Book of Odes, Annuals of Spring and Autumn, and the Classics of History). Confucianism came about as an attempt to reconstruct social order and to restore wide-reaching peace and harmony. The essential theme of Confucianism is moral transformation, beginning with the individual, leading to the final rectification of the world. Through individuals’ self-cultivation, the regulation of family relationships, and the maintenance of social structure with the function of rituals and music, Confucianism teaches the way to reach a better world for all. An ideal political state is reached when the ruler has achieved the ultimate goal of moral cultivation. This ideal ruler is called “the sage king.” In Confucianism’s conception, the proper role of government is not just to keep its people materialistically gratified and physically secured, but also to morally cultivate them. Confucianism, as a philosophy of moral politics, moral families and moral self-cultivation, became the molding ideology of Chinese culture – it dominated the thought and behavior of Chinese intellectuals and general masses alike. Contemporary philosophical works on Confucianism in English have been focusing on its ethical theories and sociopolitical theory. In ethics, the primary directions of philosophical reconstruction have been on Confucian moral self-cultivation such as Ivanhoe 2000, Confucian virtue ethics such as Van Norden 2007, and Confucian role ethics such as Ames 2011. In political theory, a current direction is the establishment of Confucian democracy that is viable in the contemporary world, such as in Tan 2004. A recent controversy was stirred up by Liu 2003 in China on whether the Confucian notion of filial piety is the root of corruption in Chinese history. In response, many Chinese scholars analyzed the issue of whether family members should expose one another’s misdeeds. Under Confucianism, individual’s responsibilities to family and to the nation/society are sometimes in competition and the personal dilemma is difficult to resolve.  Finally, Slingerland 2010 opens up a philosophical orientation to engage classical Confucian ethics with contemporary cognitive science.

 

Ames, Roger. Confucian Role Ethics: A Vocabulary. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 2011.

This book covers more than the ethical dimension of Confucianism. It first sets an interpretative context for understanding Confucianism in the philosophical background of “correlative cosmology.” The treatment of Confucian ethics as role ethics – virtues are defined in relation to our family and community roles – is gaining recognition among contemporary Confucian scholars. This book is therefore important for serious scholars in Confucian philosophy.

 

Ivanhoe, Philip J. Confucian Moral Self Cultivation. 2nd edition. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2000.

This book gives an intelligent and accessible overview of the Confucian theme of self-cultivation from Confucius to later Neo-Confucians. It captures the essence of Confucianism and provides a good guide for beginners as well as for scholars in Confucian philosophy.

 

Liu, Qingping. “Filiality versus sociality and individuality: On Confucianism as "consanguinitism.” Philosophy East and West 53 (2) 2003:234-250.

This article and its related pieces on the comment of Confucius about the son’s not reporting on the father’s stealing a sheep and other such stories in the Mengzi stirred up a heated debate among Chinese scholars in China on whether the Confucian family ethics is the root of societal consanguinitism.

 

Slingerland, Edward. “Toward an Empirically Responsible Ethics: Cognitive Science, Virtue Ethics, and Effortless Attention in Early Chinese Thought,” in Effortless Attention: A New Perspective in the Cognitive Science of Attention and Action, ed. Brian Bruya, 247-286. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 2010.

Slingerland is one of the leaders in new developments of Chinese philosophy in the West. This paper is not a historical analysis of early Chinese thought; rather, it enables Chinese philosophy to address contemporary philosophical issues. It will be a trend-setting paper.

 

Tan, Sor-Hoon. Confucian Democracy: A Deweyan Reconstruction. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2004.

This book argues for a model of democracy in the spirit of Confucianism and Dewey’s pragmatism as an alternative to Western models of democracy. It examines such issues as social individuals, conception of the self, the nature of harmonious community, and Confucian positive freedom. It is a highly praised and influential work.

 

Van Norden, Bryan. Virtue Ethics and Consequentialism in Early Chinese Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

This book contrasts Confucianism as virtue ethics with Mohism as consequentialism. The philosophical approach adopted in this book is more in the analytic tradition, and this makes the book more readable to those trained in analytic philosophy.

 

Confucius   

A different and increasingly popular Pinyin rendition of Confucius (551-479 B.C.E) is Kongzi. A major primary text is the Analects, collections of quotes from Confucius, allegedly taken by his students. Lau 1979 is a classic, while Slingerland 2003 is widely praised by scholars working in this field. Classical works on Confucius include Creel 1949 and Fingarette 1972. Both works give a broad overview of Confucius in his historical context. A more recent work is Hall and Ames 1987, which opened up many current philosophical topics concerning Confucianism. Earlier secondary discussions on Confucius in English focused on his notion of shu (empathetic respect for others), such as in Allinson 1985, and a related notion of zhong (loyal to one’s role), such as in Fingarette 1979 and Ivanhoe 1990. Van Norden 2002 contains scholarly works by leading figures in Confucianism. Of late Confucian scholars such as Amy Oberding (2011), Erin Cline (2009) and Hagop Sarkissian (2010) explore innovative and interesting topics in the study of the Analects.  Edward Slingerland (Reber & Slingerland 2011) has been instrumental in rendering Confucian moral psychology relevant to the contemporary discourse.  Furthermore, a new trend emerged to engage in comparative analyses on the philosophical discourse of Confucius.  Cline 2013 focuses on reconstructing Confucian democracy with the Confucian conception of justice in comparison to that of John Rawls.  Sim 2007 and Yu 2007 are both noteworthy comparative studies on Confucius and Aristotle.    

 

Lau, D. C. Confucius: The Analects. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979.

This is a classic translation of Confucius’ Analects. The selections are complete and the language is lucid and reliable. This version is a personal favorite.

 

Slingerland, Edward. Confucius: the Analects. Hackett Publishing Co. 2003.

This translation of the Analects also includes selected secondary commentary in the Chinese tradition. It is therefore more helpful for scholars to understand what each comment was understood in the Chinese tradition.

 

Allinson, Robert. “The Confucian Golden Rule: A Negative Formulation.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 12 (1985): 305-315.

This article provides a good analysis of Confucius’ notion of shu, and renders it as a Confucian “negative Golden Rule” – “Do not do unto others what you would not have wanted done onto you” – in contrast with the Christian Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

 

Cline, Erin M. Confucius, Rawls, and the Sense of Justice. Fordham University Press. 2013.

This book provides an innovative construction of a theory of justice informed by John Rawls’ theory of justice and the conception of justice in the Analects. It reflects the author’s breadth of knowledge and her insights on how to make Confucian moral/political theory relevant to the contemporary world.

 

Cline, Erin. "The Way, the Right, and the Good." Journal of Religious Ethics, 37.1: 107-129. 2009.

This paper gives a careful analysis of the relationship between Confucian notions of the Way, the right and the good, and argues that Confucian ethics is a form of virtue ethics.  Since virtue ethics is now a leading trend in reconstructing Confucian moral theory, this paper should be consulted in understanding the basis of Confucian virtue ethics.

 

Creel, H. G. Confucius and the Chinese Way. New York: Harper and Row, 1960.

This slightly dated book provides a good entry point to those who do not know much about Confucius the man and his philosophical views.

 

Fingarette, Herbert. The Secular as Sacred. New York: Harper, 1972.

This book gives analyses of many quotes from the Analects and places them in a coherent and intelligible thread. It gives a good overview of Confucius’ philosophy, though its religious terms (the sacred, holy) could raise some eyebrows.

 

Fingarette, Herbert. “Following the ‘One Thread’ of the Analects.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 47, No. 35 (1979): 375-405.

This article is an early classic on the reading of the penetrating theme in the Analects.

 

Hall, David and Roger Ames. Thinking Through Confucius. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1987.

This book analyzes many key concepts in Confucianism. Ames and Hall’s interpretation of Confucianism is highly influential among contemporary scholars in English, though it is not without controversy. For philosophers working on Confucianism, this is an important work.

 

Ivanhoe, Philip. J. “Reviewing the ‘One Thread’ of the Analects.” Philosophy East and West, Vol. XL, No. 1 (1990): 17-33.

This is a good article in analyzing the core issue in the Analects. It is a good entry piece for readers getting into the philosophy of the Analects.

 

Olberding, Amy. Moral Exemplars in the Analects: The Good Person is That. Routledge. 2011.

Unlike other approaches that analyze philosophical concepts in the Analects, this book focuses on some key characters in the Analects and analyzes their moral traits. These characters exemplify moral exemplars in the author’s opinion and she explains why. The beautiful writing style makes the book a pleasant read.

 

Reber, Rolf and Edward Slingerland. “Confucius Meets Cognition: New Answers to Old Questions,” Religion, Brain and Behaviour 1.2: 135-145 (June 2011).

As with other works by Slingerland cited in this bibliography, this paper reconstructs Confucian moral psychology and virtue ethics from the contemporary perspective.  The central issue in this paper is the paradox of how effortless could be achieved through effort. The paper broadens readers’ understanding beyond Confucianism and is highly thought-provoking. 

 

Sarkissian, Hagop. “Confucius and the Effortless Life of Virtue.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 27 (1): 1-16. 2010.

This paper gives a refreshing analysis of Confucius’ view on moral self-cultivation as “effortless.” It employs experiments in contemporary moral psychology to vindicate this “effortless” moral achievement. It is a fun read.

 

Sim, May.  Remastering Morals with Aristotle and Confucius.  Cambridge University Press. 2007.

This book provides an excellent comparative study on Aristotle and Confucius, and lays the foundation for reconstructing the Analects’ virtue ethics.  Sim’s expertise in both areas also makes this book a trustworthy resource for understanding both philosophers. 

 

Van Norden, Bryan W. Ed. Confucius and the Analects: New Essays. New York: Oxford University Press. 2002.

This book is a collection of recent essays on philosophical issues derived from the Analects, written by such leading experts as Joel J. Kupperman, Kwong-loi Shun, Philip J. Ivanhoe and Lisa Raphals, among others. The diverse topics are loosely divided into two parts: Keeping Warm the Old and Appreciating the New. This might be a book merely of scholarly interest.

 

Yu, Jiyuan.  The Ethics of Confucius and Aristotle: Mirrors of Virtue. Routledge, 2007.

This book compares two virtue ethics emerging from different historical and cultural backgrounds.  Yu’s comparative studies on Confucianism and Greek philosophy have drawn much attention in that he has a solid knowledge and his analyses bring new insights on both traditions. Though not everyone agrees with his interpretation or analysis, this book should be on the reading list for anyone interested in this comparative approach.

 

Mencius

In the Chinese history, Mencius (Mengzi, 372-289 B.C.E.) is called the Second Sage, next to Confucius, who is called the Ultimate Sage. Mencius defended the spirit of Confucianism against the competing views such as Mohism and Yangism during his times. The collection of Mencius’ sayings is entitled the Mengzi.  Lau 2003 is a classic, but recent translations (Bloom 2011, Van Norden 2008) are also noteworthy. With regard to secondary sources, earlier scholars were the most interested in Mencius’ theory of human nature, such as Lau 1953 and Graham 1967, both were influential works. There were also many comparative studies on Mencius’ and Xunzi’s views on human nature, the more noteworthy of which are Allison 1998 and Yu 2005.  Recent philosophical interests on Mencius focus on such issues as Mencius’ political view and his moral psychology. Kwong-loi Shun and Antonio S. Cua are among the forerunners in the reconstructing Mencius’ moral psychology. The more recent works by Philip J. Ivanhoe (Ivanhoe 2011, cited in the section on Wang Yangming), Edward Slingerland (Slingerland 2011) and Bongrae Seok (Seok 2008) bring in contemporary analysis that makes Mencius’ moral psychology relevant to today’s philosophical concerns.  Flanagan & Williams 2010 brings Mencius’ posits of four moral sprouts into the context of contemporary cognitive science. There are also two notable anthologies: the collected essays in Liu and Ivanhoe 2002 are essential in the study of Mencius; Chan 2002 expands the study on Mencius to a variety of topics.

 

Bloom, Irene. Mencius (Translation from the Asian Classics). New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.

This translation will likely replace Lau 2003 as the authoritative translation of the Mengzi. This book comes with a helpful introduction to Mencius’ philosophy written by Philip J. Ivanhoe.

 

Lau, D. C. Mencius (Penguin classic). New York: Penguin Group. 2003.

Lau’s translations are of high quality and accessibility because of his sensibility toward Chinese and English readers. This book also contains some essays written by the author, among which his discussion of Mencius’ method of analogy in his reasoning was an important work that set the stage for understanding Mencius’ argument. Originally published in 1970.

 

Van Norden, Bryan, trans. Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2008.

What is different in this book from Bloom 2011 and Lau 2003 is the addition of classical commentary on the Mengzi by a Neo-Confucian Zhu Xi. This book will be helpful for advanced scholars on Mencius.

 

Allinson, Robert E. “The Debate between Mencius and Hsün-Tzu: Contemporary Applications.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 25 (1): 31-49. 1998.

This article gives a detailed analysis of the different views held by Mencius and Xunzi from many different angles. In particular, it supports Mencius’ view from socio-biological considerations. It can be used as an entry piece for the debate between Mencius and Xunzi.

 

Chan, Alan K. L. Ed. Mencius: Contexts and Interpretations. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002.

This book is a collection of essays that explore Mencius’ view from the hermeneutic approach, examining how to best understand his philosophy in different contexts. The selected essays cover wide-ranging topics, focusing on Mencius’ view of human nature and his moral psychology. It should be an important research tool for scholars on Mencius.

 

Flanagan, Owen & Williams, Robert Anthony. What Does the Modularity of Morals Have to Do With Ethics? Four Moral Sprouts Plus or Minus a Few. Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3): 430-453. 2010.

This paper, though not specifically on Mencius, helps to bring Mencius’ belief in human moral senses into contemporary moral psychology and renders it scientifically verifiable. It should be read by anyone wishing to defend a Mencian moral psychology.

 

Graham, Angus, C. “The background of the Mencian theory of human nature.” Originally published in 1967. Reprinted in Idem, Studies in Chinese Philosophy and Philosophical Literature, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990, pp. 7–66.

This essay provides a Sinological introduction to Mencius’ theory of human nature. Even though it is an old paper, its scholarly merit cannot be denied. 

 

Lau, D. C. “Theories of Human Nature in Mencius and Shyuntzyy.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 15.3 (1953): 541-565.

This essay provides a traditional comparative study on Mencius’ and Xunzi’s views on human nature. It provides a good introduction to the famed debate.

 

Liu, Xiusheng, and Philip J. Ivanhoe. Eds. Essays on the Moral Philosophy of Mengzi. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 2002.

This collection contains many good and influential articles on Mencius by such leading scholars on Mencius as A. C. Graham, Eric Hutton, Philip J. Ivanhoe, David Nivison, and David Wong. This is a “must-read” for anyone working on Mencius.

 

Seok, Bongrae. “Mencius's Vertical Faculties and Moral Nativism.” Asian Philosophy 18 (1): 51 – 68. 2008.

This article connects Mencius’ thought to contemporary cognitive science.  It offers a non-traditional reading of Mencius’ view and renders it more compatible with contemporary philosophical concerns.

 

Shun, Kwong-loi. Mencius and Early Chinese Thought. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997.

Shun provides a definitive interpretation of Mencius’ moral philosophy. This book analyzes key themes in the Mengzi, such as his view of human nature, his notion of propriety and self-cultivation.

 

Slingerland, Edward. “Of What Use Are the Odes?’ Cognitive Science, Virtue Ethics, and Early Confucian Ethics.” Philosophy East & West 61.1: 80-109. January 2011.

This paper, along with other works by Slingerland cited in this bibliography, places ancient Chinese thought in the contemporary intellectual context and reinvigorates its philosophical import.  The paper analyzes Mencius’ speculation of human emotions (moral sprouts) and the role emotion plays in moral cognition. It provides readers a direction for developing Mencius’ moral psychology.

 

Yu, Jiyuan. “Human Nature and Virtue in Mencius and Xunzi: An Aristotelian Interpretation.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 5 (1):11-30. 2005.

Yu has done substantial comparative studies on Confucianism and Greek philosophy, and this paper is representative of his careful scholarship and informative analysis. The Aristotelian interpretation also helps readers gain a novel perspective on the debate between Mencius and Xunzi. 

 

Xunzi

Xunzi (Hsün Tzu, 313-238 B.C.E.) has traditionally been regarded as unorthodox Confucian by Neo-Confucians in that he advocated human nature is bad.  However, both his view on human nature, including human emotions, desires as well as cognitive abilities, and his moral theory, which has been characterized as ethical naturalism, have attracted many interests among contemporary scholars.  Xunzi’s rational approach to nature and his analytical style of thinking render his philosophy congenial to modern readers.  Knoblock 1988-1994 provides a scholarly respectable complete translation of Xunzi’s work, and Watson 1963 offers an accessible shorter version of Xunzi’s basic writings.  The late Antonio S. Cua was the first important scholar on Xunzi and his works (Cua 1985, Cua 1979, Cua 1978, Cua 1977) are widely regarded as authoritative on Xunzi in both the English-speaking and the Chinese-speaking worlds. Goldin 1999 provides a systematic analysis of Xunzi’s philosophy and any serious scholar on Xunzi should consult this book. Kline and Ivanhoe 2000 is an essential reader on Xunzi’s philosophy.

 

Knoblock, John. Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the Complete Works, 3 vols. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988-1994.

This is the most comprehensive and scholarly translation of Xunzi’s entire work. For scholarly citation, this complete translation is the most commonly adopted one.

 

Watson, Burton. Hsün Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia University Press. 1996. Originally published in 1963.

Even though this book does not have the complete work of Xunzi, it includes Xunzi’s most famous writings. The translation is reliable and accessible.  Since this is a much shorter version of Knoblock 1988-94, it can be used as an entry reading on Xunzi. 

 

Cua, Antonio, S. Ethical Argumentation: A Study of Hsün Tzu’s Moral Epistemology. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1985.

This is Cua’s groundbreaking work on Xunzi’s moral reasoning with the analytic approach. Unfortunately, this book is currently out of print.  It has also been translated into Chinese. 

 

Cua, Antonio, S. “Dimensions of Li (Propriety): Reflections on an Aspect of Hsün Tzu’s Ethics.” Philosophy East and West 29, No. 4 (1979): 373-94.

Since one characterizing feature of Confucianism is its emphasis on Li (rituals or propriety) and among early Confucians, Xunzi gave the most detailed account of the functions of Li, one must study Xunzi’s notion of Li if one wishes to understand Confucianism. This paper of Cua gives an authoritative account of how Li can be understood in multiple dimensions.

 

Cua, Antonio, S. “The Conceptual Aspect of Hsün Tzu’s Philosophy of Human Nature.” Philosophy East and West 27, No. 4 (1977): 373-89.

This article provides an authoritative interpretation of Xunzi’s theory of human nature, linking it with his moral concepts and his moral motivational theory.  It should be read in conjunction with Cua 1978.

 

Cua, Antonio, S. “The Quasi-empirical Aspect of Hsün-Tzu’s Philosophy of Human Nature.” Philosophy East and West 27, No. 4 (1978): 3-19.

This paper continues Cua’s (Cua 1977) analysis of Xunzi’s philosophy of human nature and develops Xunzi’s view into a moral motivational theory.  It is an important paper for developing Xunzi’s moral psychology.  Cua’s analytic style of writing also makes the paper easy to follow.

 

Goldin, Paul R. Rituals of the Way: The Philosophy of Xunzi. LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1999.

This work underscores the significance of rituals in Xunzi’s philosophy, and links the function of rituals to Dao (the Way). The book contains extensive original quotes in Chinese, and for beginners, this style might be intimidating.

 

Kline, T.C. III, and Philip J. Ivanhoe. Eds. Virtue, Nature, and Moral Agency in the Xunzi. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2000.

This is a collection of essays on various aspects in Xunzi’s moral philosophy. Topics include Xunzi’s view of human nature, virtue, human moral agency, and moral motivation. This collection will serve as a good starting point for scholars interested in studying the philosophical dimensions of Xunzi.

 

CLASSICAL DAOISM

Daoism emerged as a form of individual deliverance from the world’s harm or confinement. Daoism aims to bring people to a higher spiritual realm in search of true freedom. It teaches one to forget worldly distinctions such as fame and wealth in the pursuit of one’s internal tranquility. Under Daoism, one could be liberated from the bondage set by one’s present surroundings. Two representative works in classical Daoism are the Daodejing, a collection of eighty-one short verses, allegedly written by an ancient recluse Laozi, and the Zhuangzi, a collective work attributed to Zhuangzi. Works specifically devoted to the two philosophers are listed separately under *Laozi* and  *Zhuangzi, Chuang Tzu*. Key issues on Daoism include skepticism and relativism on knowledge and morality, conception of truth and reality, spontaneity and effortlessness, etc.  Slingerland 2003 focuses on the Daoist notion of wu-wei (translated as effortless action) as a spiritual ideal. Moeller 2004 makes Daoism more accessible to contemporary readers. Girardot 2009 gives an interesting analysis of the Daoist cosmogony.

 

Girardot, Norman J. Myth and Meaning in Early Daoism: The Theme of Chaos (Hundun). The University of Hawaii Press. 2009.

This book takes a bold and credible approach to focus on the Daoist theme of chaos in its cosmogony. For anyone interested in the Daoist metaphysics, this book will offer a fresh perspective since this theme of chaos is rarely dealt with by Daoist scholars. Even if one does not completely accept the author’s emphasis on the religious or mythical aspects of Daoist texts, one can still gain important insights on Daoist philosophy from this book.

 

Moeller, Hans-Georg. Daoism Explained: From the Dream of the Butterfly to the Fishnet Allegory. La Salle, IL: Open Court. 2004.

This book provides a beginner’s guide to Daoism. Originally published in German, the language is accessible and contemporary. By explicating the many allegories in the Daodejing and the Zhuangzi, this book makes Daoism less obscure.

 

Slingerland, Edward. Effortless Action: Wu-wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

This book analyzes the key Daoist concept of wu-wei in the texts of the Analects, the Daodejing, the Zhuangzi and Xunzi. The author claims that this notion is not just a Daoist ideal, but also a Confucian ideal.  In his other works (Slingerland 2011, 2010, cited under classical Chinese philosophy and classical Confucianism), the author appeals to experimental evidence in cognitive science to support the view that morality ultimately rests in a psychological state of effortlessness. His innovative approach has been leading new directions in the study of ancient Daoism and Confucianism. 

 

Laozi  

A legendary figure in Chinese history, Laozi’s true identity has always been controversial. The name comes to stand for the author (or authors) of a short book – the Daodejing. Laozi (or the Laozi) teaches the philosophy of wuwei – non-intervention or non-action. According to Laozi, nature has its own way and humans must not impose human values on nature itself. Laozi also entertained speculation on the origin of the Universe. Dao predates Heaven and Earth; it is Nonbeing, from which all beings emerge. Dao is the source of all life forms as well as the totality of all existence. Furthermore, Dao is fundamentally resistant to our conceptual depiction, since to name it, is to confine it into our conceptual scheme. There are hundreds of translation of the Daodejing, and here Ames and Hall 2003, Ivanhoe 2003 are recommended. Of secondary materials, Csikszentmihalyi & Ivanhoe 1999 contains scholarly articles on the mystic aspect of Laozi’s philosophy. Moeller 2006 places this ancient text in a more contemporary setting. Liu 2003 takes an innovative approach to compare Laozi’s view to Putnam’s metaphysical realism. There are countless books and articles on Laozi in Chinese, and among these Liu 2006 can be used as an authoritative study on the five different versions of the Daodejing.

 

Ames, Roger and David Hall. Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation. Ballantine Books. 2003.

This book has a detailed philosophical introduction that also gives the two author’s perspective on the interpretation of Chinese philosophy; in particular, their theory of correlative cosmology. The translation includes the original Chinese text and commentary. It is a useful reference for scholars of the Daodejing, but the translation often reflects the authors’ own interpretation of the Daodejing.

 

Ivanhoe, Philip J. The Daodejing of Laozi. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing. 2003.

This book offers an elegant and reliable translation of Laozi’s Daodejing. It is based on the author’s translation of the Daodejing selected in the readers edited by Ivanhoe and van Norden 2003, but it contains more notes. This is my preferred translation. 

 

Csikszentmihalyi, Mark, and Philip J. Ivanhoe. Eds. Religious and Philosophical Aspects of the Laozi. Albany: SUNY Press, 1999.

This book is a collection of essays on diverse topics on the Daodejing, from its ontology to its core value. Three of the articles are translated from Japanese, French and Chinese. This book is more of scholarly interest than for the general readership.

        

Liu, JeeLoo. “A Daoist Conception of Truth: Laozi’s Metaphysical Realism vs. Zhuangzi’s Internal Realism.” In Comparative Approaches to Chinese Philosophy. Edited by Bo Mou, 278-296. Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2003.

This article gives an analytic and comparative analysis of Laozi’s and Zhuangzi’s metaphysics, using Hilary Putnam’s distinction between metaphysical realism and internal realism as the dividing line.

 

Liu, Xiaogan 劉孝敢.  Laozi Gujin 老子古今.  Beijing, China: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe. 2006.

This two-volume set in Chinese contrasts and analyzes five different versions of the Laozi (Daodejing).  It is a scholarly work that can be useful for reference and citation.

 

Moeller, Hans-Georg. The Philosophy of the Daodejing. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

This book draws out many interesting philosophical themes derived from the author’s reading of the Daodejing, often going beyond the original scope of the ancient text to render it applicable in the contemporary context.

 

Zhuangzi, Chuang Tzu

Following Laozi’s skepticism of language and human conceptualization, Zhuangzi (ca. 369-286 B.C.E.) engages in the philosophical examination of the nature of language and its correspondence with reality. The current collection of the Zhuangzi, however, is the combination of works written by Zhuangzi and his followers. The first seven chapters were allegedly attributed to Zhuangzi, while the remaining sections, the Outer Chapters and the Miscellaneous Chapters, were written by later admirers of Zhuangzi’s thought.  Together the book is referred to as the Zhuangzi.  Watson’s translation (Watson 1968) remains a welcome classic, though scholars also like Graham 1981. A more recent translation by Ziporyn (Ziporyn 2009) probably surpasses both.  Mair 1994/1998 contains many stories from the Zhuangzi and is suitable for casual reading. There are two excellent collections of contemporary philosophical essays on Zhuangzi – Kjellberg and Ivanhoe 1996 and Mair 1983/2010. These two books can serve as the first stop for beginning scholars on various issues in the Zhuangzi.  Among other current researches on the Zhuangzi, Fraser 2011 and Wenzel 2003 are particularly noteworthy in their reconstrual of a sentimentalist theory of agency in the Zhuangzi.

 

Graham, Angus, C. Chuang Tzu: The Inner Chapters, London: Allen and Unwin, 1981.

This book gives a beautiful and well-respected translation of the first seven chapters in the Zhuangzi.  Since these chapters, standardly called “inner chapters,” are generally viewed as (more or less) authentic work by Zhuangzi, this book captures the essence of Zhuangzi’s philosophy. The late A. C. Graham was a highly revered expert on the Zhuangzi, and even though this translation has a new competitor (Ziporyn 2009), some scholars might still prefer Graham’s translation.

 

Mair, Victor H. Wandering on the Way: Early Taoist Tales and Parables of Chuang Tzu. Bantam Books, 1994. Reprinted by University of Hawaii Press, 1998.

This book is a collection of parables in the Zhuangzi, which is famous for its rich metaphors.  The parables in the Zhuangzi are fanciful in appearance but deeply philosophical in essence.  This book does readers a great service in bringing them together. The elegant translation makes this book a pleasure to read.

 

Watson, Burton. Trans. The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, New York: Columbia University Press, 1968.

Watson’s translation renders the witty and poetic writings collected in the Zhuangzi equally witty and poetic in English. For anyone interested in learning more about the whole Zhuangzian philosophy (not necessarily views embraced by Zhuangzi himself), this is a much better choice than Graham 1981 and Watston 1996, as the other two only contain selections and some important passages are left out.

 

Ziporyn, Brook. Trans. Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings with Selections from Traditional Commentaries.  Hackett Publishing Company. 2003.  Reprinted in 2009.

This selected translation of Zhuangzi has received high acclaim. Unlike Graham 1981, this book contains some selections from the Outer Chapters and Miscellaneous Chapters in addition to complete Inner Chapters. However, many chapters are only selectively translated, and the author has his own conception in translating some key words, such as ‘Dao’ is translated as ‘the Course.’

 

Fraser, Chris. “Emotion and Agency in the Zhuangzi.” Asian Philosophy 21.1: 97–121. 2011.

The author’s approach to the Zhuangzi has been receiving a lot of attention of late. Fraser reconstructs a philosophy of life in the Zhuangzi, resituating it in the contemporary world. This paper gives an accessible analysis of the theory of emotion, providing many stories from the Zhuangzi.  It further constructs a Zhuangist ontology of emotion and shows how it could be applicable in today’s context.  

 

Kjellberg, Paul and Philip J. Ivanhoe, eds. Essays on Skepticism, Relativism and Ethics in the Zhuangzi. (Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture), Albany, NY: SUNY, 1996.

This book contains many interesting and important essays on Zhuangzi’s view of the possibility of knowledge and the value of values. It is essential for understanding Zhuangzi’s philosophy.

 

Mair, Victor, ed. Experimental Essays on Chuang-tzu. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1983. New edition. Three Pines Press, 2010.

This collection includes some important essays on Zhuangzi. Of particular notice are Graham, Angus, C. “Daoist Spontaneity and the Dichotomy of ‘Is’ and ‘Ought’.” 3–23, which provides a sophisticated analysis of Zhuangzi’s view on reason in Western terms, and Yearley, Lee, “The Perfected Person in the Radical Chuang-tzu,” (125-39), which presents a controversial reading of Zhuangzi’s philosophy of life. The new version in 2010 adds four more papers by important Zhuangzi scholars and provides an even more comprehensive study on Zhuangzi.

 

Wenzel, Christian. “Ethics and Zhuangzi: Awareness, Freedom, and Autonomy.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 30.1: 115–26. 2003.

This short paper provides a sound critique of Chad Hansen controversial but influential reading of the Zhuangzi as relativist and skeptic (collected in Mair 1983/2010, also in his A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought). It further gives a comprehensive analysis of many Zhuangzian notions such as the skills to manoeuvre in the world. 

 

MOHISM

Mohism, led by Mozi (ca. 480 – 392? B.C.E.), advocates loving one another equally and benefiting one another mutually. To promote universal love and mutual benefits, Mozi brings out the authority of Heaven in support of his teaching. He reinstates the religious sentiment into the rational discourse of ancient Chinese philosophy. To Mozi, having the ruler believe in the existence of a willful Heaven and having the people believe in the existence of formidable ghosts and spirits, would be far more beneficial to the world than not having them possess these beliefs. Therefore, one should promote such religious sentiments. Mozi rejects the Confucian institutions of rites and rituals, since they are highly formalistic and impractical.

 

Mozi, Mo Tzu

Mohism has frequently been associated with pragmatism or utilitarianism (Ahern 1976, Vorenkamp 1992), and recent work on Mozi or Mohism (Fraser 2008, Robins 2008) opens up interesting directions for further discussion. Wong 1989 is an important work, done in the analytic style, on the contrast between Confucianism and Mohism. Watson’s translation (Watson 2003) remains to be the only translation of Mozi, which is popular and accessible.  

 

Watson, Burton. Trans. Mo Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

Originally published in 1963, this book gives the core of Mozi’s writings. It is a good reader for beginners.  

 

Ahern, Dennis M. “Is Mo Tzu A Utilitarian?” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 3 (1976): 185-93.

This paper is one of the early works on Mozi that led the discussion on a comparative study between Mohism and utilitarianism. It should be read in conjunction with Vorenkamp 1992.

 

Fraser, Chris. “Moism and Self-Interest.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 35, No.3 (2008): 437–54.

Fraser has become an expert on Mohism of late, with a new book on Mohism coming out soon. In this paper, Fraser argues against the traditional egoistic interpretation of the Mohist theory of human nature, and reconstructs a Mohist moral psychology under which moral motivation goes beyond mere self-interest.  It is an essential paper for the current development of Mohist study.

 

Robins, Dan. “The Moists and the Gentlemen of the World.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 38, No. 3 (2008): 385–402.

This paper argues against treating Mohism as primarily a philosophical discourse, and suggests that it is fundamentally a social-political movement in its historical context. It is a controversial thesis, and adds alternative perspective to the study on Mohism.

 

Vorenkamp, Dirck. “Another Look at Utilitarianism In Mo-Tzu's Thought.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 19, No. 4 (1992): 423-43.

This paper is a response to Ahern 1976 and argues that Mohism should be compared to rule-utilitarianism, not the form of strong act-utilitarianism that Ahern attributes to Mozi. It provides a more comprehensive understanding of Mozi’s thought.

 

Wong, David. “Universalism versus Love with Distinctions: An Ancient Debate Revived.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 16 (1989): 251-72.

This paper brings the different views between Mohism and Confucianism into the contemporary philosophical discourse. It is an excellent paper for anyone interested in the philosophical issues involved in the ethical principle of impartiality – not just for Mohist scholars or for scholars on Chinese philosophy.  It is highly recommended.

 

 

Later Mohism

Works on later Mohism (Graham 1978, Robins 2010) bring out the sophistication of Mohist logic.

 

Graham, Angus C. Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 1978.

This is an authoritative study on Mohism, including a general introduction to the Mohist philosophy in its historical context.  However, the detailed philological analysis of the text and its grammar makes this book difficult to digest for beginners.

 

Robins, Dan. “The Later Mohists and Logic.” History and Philosophy of Logic, 31, No. 3 (2010): 247–285.

The Mohist logic and argumentation is an understudied topic in Chinese philosophy, which has however been gaining more attention in recent years. This paper is one of the few recent works on the Mohist logic.  Following his teacher Chad Hansen’s lead, Robins argues that the later Mohists treat terms rather than sentences as the basic linguistic unit in their argumentation. For those interested in reconstructing Chinese philosophy of language, this paper should be consulted, but the extensive Chinese texts cited in this paper might be uninviting to non-Chinese readers.

 

 

CHINESE LEGALISM

Legalism was a school of thought that focused on governance and the publicity of laws. There were several well-known legalist politicians in ancient times, but it was Hanfeizi, a student of Xunzi, who systematized legalism into a form of political philosophy. Hanfeizi embraced Xunzi’s doctrine of the badness of human nature. He believed that Mohism did not go far enough in its emphasis on pragmatism, because the teaching of love is totally ineffectual. He also criticized the Confucian model of moral politics. He argued that the ruler’s virtue and kindness are not sufficient to end social unrest, while an awe-inspiring power can prohibit violence and secure social order. In his opinion, the lofty idealism of Confucianism is the culprit of the contemporary chaos. Only Legalism in its pure form could end the turmoil and restore national peace and social order. The people’s interests lie in prosperity and longevity, which can only be obtained under a Legalist rulership. Legalism, as a philosophy of pragmatic rulership, became the ideology embraced by Chinese emperors. It underlay the Chinese political structure and helped maintain the political stability in Chinese history. Cheng 1981 gives a good comparative study on Legalism and Confucianism. Research and philosophical analysis on legalism focus on its key figure, Hanfeizi.

 

Cheng, Chung-ying. “Legalism Versus Confucianism: A Philosophical Appraisal.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 8 (1981): 271-302.

This paper represents the standard interpretation of the differences between legalism and Confucianism. It can serve as an accessible entry into legalist philosophy.

 

Hanfeizi, Han Fei Tzu

Hanfeizi (ca. 280 –233 B.C.E.) was a great synthesizer of Chinese legalism, and the collection of his writings is called the Hanfeizi.  His thought played an important role in shaping Chinese political climate, but as a philosophy, it has not received sufficient attention among scholars on Chinese philosophy.  Contemporary discourse on his view in English tends to focus on his notion of law and order, as in Moody 1979, Wang 1977. The best, though incomplete, translation of his work is Watson 2003.

 

Watson, Burton (Trans.) Han Feizi. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

Burton’s translations of classical Chinese philosophy texts are all outstanding. He received the PEN translation prize in 1981. This is a translation of selected chapters in the Hanfeizi.  For people who cannot read Chinese texts, this translation provides the best entry to the Hanfeizi.

 

Elstein, David. “Han Feizi's Thought and Republicanism.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (2):167-185. 2011.

This paper takes a novel angle in interpreting Hanfeizi’s philosophy as similar to the republican political ideal of reducing the potential threat of domination.  Against the traditional attribution of amoral autocracy to Hanfeizi, this paper gives Hanfeizi a more sympathetic reading.

 

Flanagan, Owen & Jing Hu. “Han Fei Zi's Philosophical Psychology: Human Nature, Scarcity, and the Neo-Darwinian Consensus.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38 (2): 293-316. 2011.

Flanagan’s writings on Chinese philosophy open the discourse to broader philosophical interests, with innovative topics that are not restricted to traditional Chinese philosophy.  This paper, co-authored with a graduate student Jing Hu, is not a paper that focuses on textual analysis of the Hanfeizi, but one that deals with a more general issue about human nature.  It contrasts Hanfeizi’s self-interested view on human nature against the Neo-Darwinian consensus on human reciprocal altruism, and suggests that Hanfeizi’s perspective may be closer to realism of human nature.

 

Hutton, Eric. “Han Feizi's Criticism of Confucianism and its Implications for Virtue Ethics.” Journal of Moral Philosophy 5 (3): 423-453. 2008.

This paper begins with Hanfeizi’s criticisms of Confucianism and compares these criticisms to objections raised against contemporary virtue ethics. It should be of interest not only to readers learning about Hanfeizi’s view, but also to those who are developing Confucian virtue ethics.   

 

Moody Jr., Peter R. “The Legalism of Han Fei Tzu and Its Affinities with Modern Political Thought.” International Philosophical Quarterly 19 (1979): 317-30.

This paper brings Hanfeizi’s view into the Western philosophical context to examine its merits and limitations. It provides a good introduction to the legalist political thought.

 

Wang, Hsiao-po. “The Significance of the Concept of ‘Fa; in Han Fei’s Thought System.” (Translated by L. S. Chang) Philosophy East and West 27, No. 1 (1977): 35-52.

This paper, originally written in Chinese by a Chinese scholar, and provides an in-depth analysis of the concept of law in legalism. It is a solid paper that represents the traditional analysis of Hanfeizi. 

 

The Yijing, I Ching, the Book of Change

The Yijing 易經, commonly translated as The Book of Change, is the single most important work in the history of Chinese philosophy. It is not only the source of the Chinese cosmology, but also the very foundation of the whole Chinese culture. Both of the two leading Chinese philosophical schools, Confucianism and Daoism, drew cosmological and moral ideas from this book. The dating of the compilation of the Yijing is still a controversial issue among historians; hence, we cannot safely place the whole Yijing as a Pre-Confucian or a Post-Confucian text. However, Confucius himself alluded to the Yijing, and he was traditionally regarded as the author of some of the earlier commentaries on the hexagrams. The Yijing consists of sixty-four hexagrams and the Ten Wing. The whole book is rich in metaphysical and ethical symbolism. All affairs of the world are supposedly represented by these hexagrams. In theory, the Yijing provides a profound cosmological foundation for Chinese philosophy. In practice, the Yijing was commonly used in divination, a process in which advice is given to a particular person in a particular situation on how to accomplish success and avoid disaster. Throughout Chinese history, hundreds of scholars wrote extensive commentaries on the Yijing, in which they elaborated their own metaphysical views. The Yijing’s tremendous impact on the development of Chinese thought cannot be underscored enough. There are many existing translations of the Yijing in English, and the most recommendable ones are Wilhelm 1967, a clear classic and Huang 1998, a modern and accessible translation. Shaughnessy 1997 is the translation of an excavated text of the Yijing, dating back to 168 BCE. Secondary sources on the Yijing focus more on its metaphysics (e.g. Cheng 1989 and Schöter 2011).

 

Huang, Alfred. The Complete I Ching. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions. 1998.

Though not as thorough as Wilhelm 1967, this book is an accessible and generally reliable translation of the Yijing. It is good for classroom adoption or personal browsing, in that the organization is clear and user-friendly. It is a popular translation of the Yijing and its 10th Anniversary Edition came out in 2010.

 

Shaughnessy, Edward L. I Ching – The Classic of Changes. New York: Ballantine Books. 1997.

This book is the first English translation of the Mawangdui texts of the Yijing, discovered in 1973. This Yijing text is probably much earlier than the commonly circulated Yijing. It should be a book of historical and scholarly interest.

 

Wilhelm, Richard. Trans. The I Ching or Book of Changes. Translated by Cary F. Baynes into English. Third edition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967.

This is by far the best translation for the Yijing. Wilhelm gave an insightful translation and notation of the Yijing in German, and Baynes rendered it a highly readable English text.

 

Chung-ying Cheng. “On Harmony as Transformation: Paradigms from the I Ching.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 16 (1989): 125-58.

Cheng has done copies work on the interpretation and analysis of the Yijing, and this article is one of his best work on the Yijing.

 

Schöter, Andreas. “The Yijing: Metaphysics and Physics.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38, No. 3 (2011): 412-26.

This article gives an interesting and innovative perspective on the metaphysics in the Yijing in the context of contemporary physics.

 

POST-CLASSICAL CHINESE PHILOSOPHY

Post-classical Chinese philosophy roughly refers to philosophy after the classical period and before the flourishing of Chinese Buddhism around the sixth and seventh centuries. The more noteworthy philosophy of this period are Yin-Yang Confucianism in the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) and Neo-Daoism in Wei-Jin dynasties (220-589 CE). Yin-Yang Confucianism is the view that focuses on the correlation between states of affairs in the human world and natural phenomena, and Dong Zhongshu (179-104 BCE) was the most important philosopher in this school. There are very few translated works or secondary materials in English on philosophy in this period. Other than Chan’s Source Book (Chan 1963, under *General Overviews*), Csikszentmihalyi 2006 is the only reader for philosophy in the Han dynasty. Wang 2012 is a new book that introduces the rarely discussed Yin-yang philosophy.

 

Csikszentmihalyi, Mark. Trans. Readings in Han Chinese Thought. Hackett Publishing Co., 2006.

This is the only comprehensive translation of selected works by philosophers in the Han dynasty, including Doug Zhongshu, Jia Yi, Yang Xiong, and Wang Chong, among others. The selections cover wide-ranging topics from self-cultivation to medicine and divination. For readers who do not read Chinese texts, this book will be an indispensible research tool.

 

Wang, Robin. Yinyang: The Way of Heaven and Earth in Chinese Thought and Culture (New Approaches to Asian History). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2012.

This new book is the first systematic work on the philosophy of yin yang in Han dynasty done in English. It covers the notion of yin yang in both abstract cosmology and practical applications such as in politics, gender relationships, and even divination.

 

Neo-Daoism

In Chinese, Neo-Daoism is known as the study of the profound (xuanxue 玄學) of the Wei-Jin dynasties (220-420). The focus of Wei-Jin philosophy was no longer cosmogony or cosmology, but ontology. A key concept in Neo-Daoism is Laozi’s “wu ” – rendered either as “non-being” or as “nothingness” in English. This philosophical concept of wu became the major theme in the philosophical developments during the Wei-Jin Dynasties. Two leading philosophers, He Yan (193?-249) and Wang Bi (226-249), further developed Laozi’s notion of wu and established wu as the ontological basis of all existence. The philosophical pursuit at the time went beyond speculating on the origin of the Universe, and started investigating the substance or the fundamental essence of all things. These Neo-Daoists are known for their commentary of classical Daoist texts, such as Wang Bi on Laozi’s Daodejing (Lynn 1999, cited under *Wang Bi*) and Guo Xiang’s annotations on the Zhuangzi.

 

The Huainanzi

The name refers to a compiled work under the King of Huainan Liu An (179-122 B.C.E.). This book has controversial merit, though in the Daoist tradition, it is commonly seen as a philosophical continuation of classical Daoism.  Major et al 2010 is the authoritative translation off the complete Huainanzi, and its abridged version (Major et al 2012) is also available.

 

Major, John S. and Sarah Queen, Andrew Meyer, Harold D. Roth (trans.) The Huainanzi: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Government in Early Han China (Translations from the Asian Classics). New York: Columbia University Press. 2010.

This book is the first complete English translation of all twenty-one chapters the Huainanzi, and it provides rich annotations throughout. The long Introduction (pp. 1-40) provides a detailed explanation of the historical background of Liu An as well as introduces contemporary studies on the Huainanzi. Any serious scholar on Daoism should read this translation to gain a better understanding of the development of Daoism past the Daodejing and the Zhuangzi.

 

Major, John S. and Sarah Queen, Andrew Meyer, Harold D. Roth (trans.) The Essential Huainanzi: (Translations from the Asian Classics). New York: Columbia University Press. 2012.

An alternative to the 1016-page Major et al 2010, this abridged version (272 pages) provides an accessible access to the Huainanzi.  Unless readers are doing serious research on the Huainanzi, this version may suffice.

 

Wang Bi, Wang Pi

Wang Bi (王弼  226-249) was a leader of the School of Nonbeing. He developed Laozi’s notion of wu and established wu as the ontological basis of all existence. Wang Bi produced copious work in his brief lifetime (he died at the age of twenty-four). His Commentary on Laozi’s Daodejing (Laozi Daodejin zhu l老子道德經注) and A Brief Exposition of the Essence of Laozi’s Teachings (Laozi zhilue 老子指略) brought Laozi’s notion of wu to a new dimension. There are fortunately ample translations of Wang Bi’s works (Lynn 1994, Lynn 1999. Even though Wang Bi’s philosophy is widely studied in Chinese, there are few studies of Wang Bi in English.  Chan 1991 and Wagner 2003 are the only two monographs devoted to Wang Bi. 

 

Lynn, Richard John. Trans. The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

This translation of the Yijing with Wang Bi’s commentary is particularly important to scholars who are interested in Wang Bi, since Wang Bi’s ideas are preserved in his commentaries alone.  Lynn’s translation has received high acclaims from both scholars and lay readers.

 

Lynn, Richard John. Trans. The Classic of the Way and Virtue: A New Translation of the Tao-te ching of Laozi as Interpreted by Wang Bi. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

This translation of the Daodejing is primarily for scholars who are interested in Wang Bi, as there are many other good and more accessible translations (e.g. Ivanhoe 2003, cited under Laozi) of the Daodejing.  For some readers, the many notes accompanying each chapter may be a welcome feature of this book, while some others might find them tedious.

 

Chan, Alan K.L. Two Visions of the Way: A Study of the Wang Pi and the Ho-Shang Kung Commentaries on the Lao-Tzu (SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture). Albany, NY: SUNY Press. 1991.

The first half of t his book offers an accessible introduction to Wang Bi the person and his philosophy. It is arguably the best guide available in English for Wang Bi. 

 

Wagner, Rudolph G. Language, Ontology and Political Philosophy in China: Wang Bi’s Scholarly Exploration of the Dark (Xuanxue), Albany: SUNY Press, 2003.

This book focuses on Wang Bi’s ontology and his political philosophy. In addition, the first part of the book also introduces the intellectual historical background of Wang Bi.  The book is primarily for scholars working on Chinese philosophy, not an introductory guide. 

 

Guo Xiang

Guo Xiang’s (252-312) philosophical ideas are preserved only in his Commentary on Zhuangzi. Guo Xiang had a keener interest in the speculative cosmogony of being. He thinks that being cannot come from nonbeing, both because nonbeing itself cannot produce anything and because being itself has to be self-generated. He was known as one of the key leaders of the School of Being.  There is, unfortunately, very little work done on Guo Xiang’s philosophy in the English-speaking world, and Ziporyn 2003 does great service in making Guo Xiang’s thought accessible to contemporary readers.  

 

Ziporyn, Brook. The Penumbra Unbound: The Neo-Taoist Philosophy of Guo Xiang. Albany: SUNY Press, 2003.

This is the only book-length work on Guo Xiang in English. It provides a comparative and contemporary analysis of Guo Xiang’s view based on Guo’s commentary on the Zhuangzi. It has received high praises from scholars in the field.  If one wishes to understand Daoism beyond the classical period, then one should read both Chan 1991 and this book.

 

CHINESE BUDDHISM

The introduction of Indian Buddhism into Chinese philosophy was a unique as well as a peculiar phenomenon in the history of Chinese philosophy. It was unique because there was no other outside philosophy that has had such a tremendous impact on the whole development of Chinese philosophy. At the same time, it was peculiar that Indian Buddhism could have had such an impact since the whole religious background, metaphysical assumptions, ethical beliefs, and life concerns of the Indian culture were not only alien, but also contrary, to those of Chinese culture heavily influenced by Confucianism.  There were some philosophical affinities between Daoism and Buddhism, however, in that the Daoist’s notion of Dao could be used to support the Buddhist’s denunciation of the phenomenal world, and the Daoist ideal conception of life agrees much with the Buddhist’s teaching of non-attachment.  As a result, the early inception of Buddhism in China was mediated by Daoist ideas, and some early Chinese translations of Buddhist sutras employed Daoist concepts to translate key Buddhist terms.  While Chinese thinkers absorbed the basic tenets of Indian Buddhism, they also reinvented it by placing different emphasis on some of the major themes. Hence, Chinese Buddhism evolved from Indian Buddhism and gradually obtained its own characteristics. In particular, while early Buddhism is set in a philosophical tradition that builds on the “other-worldly” concern, Chinese Buddhism is based on a philosophical tradition with a “this-worldly” concern. A shared pursuit for Chinese Buddhist schools is the concern whether everyone has the potential for Buddhahood, and how one can actually become a Buddha. This pursuit led them to the issue of “Buddha-nature,” which can be viewed as a continuation of the assertion of the goodness of human nature as seen in ancient Chinese philosophy.

 

The Consciousness-Only (Wei-Shi) School

The great pilgrim and translator Xuanzang [Hsüan Tsang 玄奘] (596-664) played a significant role in the development of Buddhism in China. Under his introduction, the Consciousness-Only school (the Wei-shi school 唯識宗) was founded in China. The Consciousness-Only school was originally founded by two brothers of the Yogacara school in India: Asanga and Vasubandhu (fourth to fifth century A.D.). The thought of the Chinese Consciousness-Only school originated in the teachings of Vasubandhu, on whose works Xuan-zang wrote his commentary. Xuanzang’s Cheng Wei-Shi Lun 成唯識論 (A Treatise on the Establishment of Consciousness-Only) came to represent the thought of the Chinese Consciousness-Only School. This school is named “Consciousness-Only,” because it emphasizes that from time immemorial, there has only been consciousness. The Consciousness-Only school denies the real existence of the external world. What they mean by “real existence” here is “independent existence.” This school claims that external objects do exist in a sense – in the sense of being different from illusory images as in dreams and in one’s imagination. But it denies the existence of the external world in realism’s sense – in the sense of being existent independently of mental activities (perception, cognition, intellection and consciousness) of sentient beings. It also denies the permanence of the external world, since consciousness itself is constantly in transformation. As the manifestation of consciousness, the world cannot exist on its own. Everything is the outcome of the transformation of someone’s consciousness. There is very little work on the Chinese Consciousness-only school in English. The translations (Wei 1973, Hamilton 1938) are hard to come by and not easy to digest. Fortunately, Lusthaus 2003 provides an excellent introduction to this school.

 

Wei, Tat. trans. Ch’eng Wei-Shih Lun: Doctrine of Mere-Consciousness by [Xuan-zang]. Hong Kong: The Ch’eng Wei-Shih Lun Publication Committee, 1973.

       This is an intensely rigid translation of Cheng Wei-Shi Lun. It is not for casual reading.

 

Hamilton, Clarence H. trans. Vasubandhu, Wei shih er shih lun (The Treatise in Twenty Stanzas on Representation-only). Translated from the Chinese version of [Xuan-zang]. New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society, 1938.

Hamilton was an early expert on the Chinese consciousness-only school. This translation is pretty accessible, with ample notations that help readers understand the background. The Twenty Stanzas is an elementary treatise compared to the Cheng Wei-Shi Lun, and can serve as an entry to the latter work. 

 

Lusthaus, Dan. Buddhist Phenomenology: A Philosophical Investigation of Yogacara Buddhism and the Ch’eng Wei-Shih lun. New York: Routledge, 2003.

This book provides a comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of this Chinese school, shedding light on its philosophical background in India and its key concepts. It provides an excellent introduction to the Chinese consciousness-only school in English.  First published in 2002.

 

The Tiantai School

The Tian-tai school was founded by Zhiyi (Chih-I 智顗) (538-597). The school derived its name from the Tian-tai Mountain in China, because Zhiyi lived and taught there for many years. The major Buddhist text endorsed by this school is the Lotus Sutra, short for “the Sutra of the Lotus Blossom of the Subtle Dharma” (Miao-fa lian-hua Jing 妙法蓮華經, commonly abbreviated as “Fahua Jing 法華經”). Zhiyi’s philosophical training can be traced back to the thought of Nagarjuna, the founder of the Indian Madhyamika School. But unlike Xuan-zang’s Consciousness-only school, the Tian-tai school is not just another extension of an Indian Buddhist school. Zhiyi greatly modified the basic tenets of the Madhyamika school to formulate the main tenets of Tian-tai philosophy. The most distinctive trait of the Tian-tai worldview is that there is only one reality, which is both the phenomenal world and nirvana. By identifying nirvana with the phenomenal world, Tian-tai Buddhism abolishes the polarity between the phenomenal world and ultimate reality.  Among English translations, Donner & Stevenson 1993 and Swanson 1989 are more scholarly works, and Watson 2002 is a good one for beginners.  Swanson 1989 and Ng 1993 are particularly helpful in shedding lights on the essential teachings of the Tiantai school. 

Ziporyn 2004 goes beyond explicating the texts and brings Tian-tai philosophy to a new level.

 

Donner, Neal and Daniel B Stevenson, trans. The Great Calming and Contemplation: A Study and Annotated Translation of the First Chapter of Chih-i’s Mo-ho chih-kuan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993.

This is a partial translation of Zhiyi’s work, Moho Zhiguan 摩訶止觀 (The Great Calming and Contemplation), which provides a detailed theory of the method of meditation.  Represents the mature work of Zhiyi, this book can be seen as the authoritative guide to the practice of Tiantai Buddhism.  The translation here is accompanied by ample notations.

 

Swanson, Paul. Trans. Foundations of T’ien-T’ai Philosophy: The Flowering of the Two Truths Theory in Chinese Buddhism. California: Asian Humanities Press, 1989.

This book offers a reliable introduction to Tiantai philosophy and includes a partial translation of Zhiyi’s Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra (Fahua Xuanyi 法華玄義). The first chapter, “Truth in T’ien-T’ai Philosophy” (pp. 1-17) is particularly helpful in illuminating the theory of two truths in Tiantai philosophy.  The rest of the Introduction also provides background knowledge of the school.  Scholars will find the ample notes (close to one hundred pages) helpful.

 

Watson, Burton. Trans. The Essential Lotus: Selections from the Lotus Sutra. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

This is an accessible and elegant translation of the Lotus Sutra.  It is a welcome version for general readership.

 

Ng, Yu-Kwan. T’ien-t’ai Buddhism and Early Madhyamika. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993.

This book provides an excellent introduction to Tiantai Buddhism, both in terms of its historical background and in terms of its philosophical inspirations.

 

Ziporyn, Brook. Being and Ambiguity: Philosophical Experiments with Tiantai Buddhism.  Peru, IL: Open Court Publishing. 2004.

This book takes inspirations from Tian-tai’ view on being and truth to tackle various contemporary philosophical issues. Its ambitious explorations of philosophical issues of today and the fluid writing style have earned high acclaims from both scholars and lay readers.

 

The Huayan School, the Hua-yen School

Huayan Buddhism derived its name from the Huayan Sutra 華嚴經, translated as “The Flower Ornament Scripture” or as “The Flowery Splendor Scripture.” The Huayan school, like its contemporary Tiantai school, is indisputably a Chinese Buddhist school. The founder of the Huayan school was a Chinese monk named Du-shun (杜順557-640). Though Huayan’s major sutra came from abroad, Du-shun established Huayan Buddhism by introducing new terminology in replacement of some key Indian notions. He introduced the term “li” (Principle) to stand for the ultimate realm of reality. He uses “shi” (things or events) to replace the term “Form” (or “Color”) in traditional Buddhist texts. This substitution manifests a more intense interest in the affairs of the phenomenal world. It is generally acknowledged that Huayan philosophy had a great impact on further developments of Chinese philosophy. Of all the contributions that the Huayan school makes to the development of Chinese philosophy, its notion of Principle (li) is the most important one. When ultimate reality is defined as “the Realm of Principle,” it takes on a more abstract dimension than its accompanying notions such as nirvana or substance. The ongoing pursuit of ways to analyze the relations between Principle and Things, between Principle and Mind, etc., dominates the next era of Chinese philosophy, namely, neo-Confucianism. In contemporary philosophical context, what makes Huayan philosophy stand out from the other Buddhist schools is its unique metaphysics that includes issues in event ontology, mereology, multiple worlds, time and consciousness.  For primary sources, Cleary 1993 is an impressive translation of the massive sutra, and Clearly 1983 includes key works in the Huayan school. Among secondary sources, Cook 1973 provides an accessible overview for beginners, while Chang 1971 gives a more comprehensive introduction to Huayan’s sophisticated doctrine.  Odin 1995, comparing Huayan’s metaphysics with Whitehead’s process metaphysics, is regarded by Huayan scholars as an important work on Huayan philosophy.  Among philosophical papers written on Huayan Buddhism, Cook 1979 and Jones 2009 are particularly noteworthy in that they bring Huayan philosophy into the context of contemporary metaphysics. 

 

Cleary, Thomas. Trans.  The Flower Ornament Scripture: A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra.  Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc.  1993. 

This book is a highly valuable translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra, done with poetic language and vivid imageries.  However, the size of this book is enormous. For those interested in Huayan’s philosophical import, see chapters 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 14, 20, 24, 26, 29, and 37. For those interested in Huayan’s practices, chapters 8, 11, 12, 15-18, 21, 25-29, 36, and 38 are recommended. Chapter 39, “Entry into the Realm of Reality,” stands on its own as an essential introduction to Huayan Buddhism.

 

Cleary, Thomas, Trans. Entry into the Inconceivable: An Introduction to Hua-yen Buddhism. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1983.

This book includes the translations of Du-shun’s “Cessation and Contemplation in the Five Teachings,” his “Contemplation of the Realm of Reality” with Cheng-guan’s commentary, Zhi-yan’s “Ten Mysterious Gates of the Unitary Vehicle,” and Fa-zang’s “Cultivation of Contemplation of the Inner Meaning of the Huayan: The Ending of Delusion and Return to the Source.”  The first part of this book gives a condensed introduction to Huayan Buddhism.

 

Chang, Garma C. C. The Buddhist Teaching of Totality: The Philosophy of Hwa Yen Buddhism. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1971.

With his knowledge of Western philosophy, the author is able to relate Huayan Buddhism to contemporary readers in the West, though his unequivocal high praise for Huayan Buddhism reflects more the sentiments of 20th Century New Confucians.  The introduction is reliable and insightful. It can be used as a gateway into the sophisticated Huayan philosophy.  

 

Cook, Francis H. Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra.  Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press. 1973.

This small book provides a clear and reader-friendly introduction to Huayan philosophy. It may be easier to read than Chang 1971, but readers interested in Huayan Buddhism should not skip Chang 1971, as this book is a brief digest whereas the other one gives a fuller picture.

 

Cook, Francis H. “Causation in the Chinese Hua-yen Tradition.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 6: 367-85. 1979.

This article analyzes Huayan’s notion of causation, which is based on different conceptions of causation from what are commonly assumed in Western philosophy of science. 

 

Jones, Nicholaos. “Fazang's Total Power Mereology: An Interpretive Analytic Reconstruction.” Asian Philosophy 19 (3):199-211. 2009.

This article takes the analytic approach to reconstruct Huayan’s metaphysics as a form of mereology.  It should open new grounds for the continuing development of Huayan philosophy. 

 

Odin, Steven. Process Metaphysics and Hua-Yen Buddhism; A Critical Study of Cumulative Penetration vs. Interpenetration. India: Sri Satguru Publications. 1995.

This formerly out-of-print book, originally published by SUNY press in 1982, is again made available by an Indian press. The comparative analysis in this book is for serious philosophers who have some background knowledge of Huayan philosophy and Whitehead’s process metaphysics, both difficult for beginners. It is nonetheless an essential book for anyone working on Huayan Buddhism, in that it explores fascinating metaphysical implications of Huayan’s conception of time and reality.

 

The Chan School (Zen Buddhism)

The Chan School, developed in China between the sixth and the eighth century, is generally regarded as a genuinely Chinese Buddhist school. It was later brought to Japan and became a prominent Buddhist school in Japan. Because Chan was first introduced to the Western world in the twentieth century through its Japanese branch (most notably through the interpretations of a Japanese scholar Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki), it is more commonly known in the Western world by its Japanese pronunciation, “Zen.” The word “chan” is the Chinese translation of the Sanskrit dhyana, which means meditation.  The essence of Chan’s philosophy could be described as a philosophy of pure mind. The Chan School preaches the retrieval of one’s original mind. The passage of mind-transmission does not rely on verbal communication. Therefore, Chan masters play down the importance of language. As a form of philosophy, Chan is less systematic than the other schools of Chinese Buddhism listed above. Its philosophy can be encapsulated in a few short aphorisms, but Chan masters seldom defended or put forward arguments for their theses. One of the most important philosophical claims of the Chan School is that we do not need to reject the phenomenal world totally in order to reach nirvana. Another important philosophical thesis of the Chan School is the universality of Buddhahood, which may have been derived from Mencius’ view of the goodness of human nature.  Because of the popularity of Zen in the West, there are copious works on Chan either as a general philosophy of life or as an important philosophical tradition in China.  The selected bibliography here focuses more on the latter. Cleary 1998 is an authoritative translation of the fuller version of Platform Sutra of the sixth patriarch of Chan, Hui-neng (慧能638-713), while Yampolsky 1967 is based on a shorter, possibly the earliest, version of the Sutra unearthed at Tun-huang’s cave in 1900. Blofield 1958/1994, on the other hand, provides a complete translation of the discourse of a famous Chan master in the Tang dynasty, Huang Po (黄檗 ? - 855). Of secondary materials, Watts 1957 is a beginner’s guide, while Dumoulin 2005 is a more scholarly introduction to the history of Chan. Among early philosophical discussions on Chan Buddhism, Cheng 1973 gives a thorough analysis of Chan’s usage of language, and Zeuschner 1978 highlights Chan’s philosophy of mind.  Both are important in setting the direction for Chan studies.  Recent works on Chan seem to take the comparative approach, such as comparing Chan Buddhism with Daoism, Wittgenstein, Heideggar, or other philosophy.  Wright 2000 is a philosophical treatment of Chan that has drawn much attention from scholars in the field.

 

Blofield, John. The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po: On the Transmission of Mind.  1958.  New York: Grove Press, 1994.

Huang Po was influential in the later propagation of Chan Buddhism in China, and this short book provides a comprehensive translation of his sayings and anecdotes. It captures the eccentric pedagogy of Chan, as well as the brilliant insights and witty spirit of Huang Po. The book has become a classic.

 

Cleary, Thomas. Trans. The Sutra of Hui-neng: Grand Master of Zen. (With Hui-neng’s Commentary on the Diamond Sutra.) Boston and London: Shambhala, 1998.

This classic translation by Cleary is an essential reading for Chan Buddhism.  In addition to an elegant transition of the Platform Sutra, it also contains Hui-neng’s commentary on the Diamond Sutra.  Both texts contain many wonderful Chan aphorisms.

 

Cheng, Chung-ying. “On Zen (Ch’an) Language and Zen Paradoxes.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 1 (1973): 77-99.

This article gives a comprehensive analysis of the way the Chan school uses language for its pedagogical function. It can be read as an introduction to Chan’s philosophy of language.

 

Dumoulin, Heinrich. Zen Buddhism: A History, India & China. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, Inc. 2005.

This is the first volume of Dumoulin’s two-volume history of Zen Buddhism.  This 300-page book gives a comprehensive introduction to the Indian roots of Buddhism and the development of Chan Buddhism in China. It should be an essential reading for readers who are interested in knowing the origin of Chan Buddhism.

 

Watts, Alan W. The Way of Zen. New York: Vintage Books, 1957.

This is a popular introduction to Chan Buddhism for the general reader. It briefly explains history of Chan Buddhism and some key ideas of Chan such as emptiness as well as its method of meditation.

 

Wright, Dale S. Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism (Cambridge Studies in Religious Traditions). Cambridge University Press, 2000.

This book uses Huang Po’s texts (see Blofield 1958) as the basis to engage in a hermeneutic reconstruction of Chan Buddhism.  It explains how contemporary readers can understand the later Chan’s teachings.

 

Yampolsky, Philip B. The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch: The Text of the Tun-Huang Manuscript. New York: Columbia University Press. 1967.

This translation is based on a much shorter, albeit more ancient, version of the Platform Sutra that was discovered in the cave library of Tun-Huang (敦煌). It should be of scholarly interest to compare this older version against the more popular text in Clearly 1998. The short translation here is accompanied by a detailed, and valuable, introduction to the Chan school by the late Dr. Yampolsky. 

 

Zeuschner, Robert B. “The Understanding of Mind in the Northern Line of Ch’an.” Philosophy East and West 28, No. 1 (1978): 69-79.

This article explains the key thesis in Chan Buddhism about the pure mind. It provides a good guide to Chan’s philosophy of mind.

 

 

CHINESE NEO-CONFUCIANISM

‘Neo-Confucianism’ typically refers to the revival of classical Confucianism developed between the eleventh and the eighteenth century in China, spanning over four dynasties in Chinese history: Song (960-1279), Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911). In Chinese intellectual history, neo-Confucianism is standardly divided into two periods: Song-Ming neo-Confucianism and Qing neo-Confucianism. Neo-Confucianism was a new form of Confucianism that came after the dominance of Daoism and subsequently Buddhism within Chinese intellectual circles. Neo-Confucianism revitalized classical Confucianism and expanded the traditional philosophical discourse to new dimensions. Neo-Confucianism invigorated the metaphysical speculation found in classics such as the Yijing and incorporated different concepts and perspectives from Chinese Daoism and Buddhism into its discourse. Neo-Confucians’ metaphysical views lay the foundation for their moral theories. In their various debates, Neo-Confucians touched on the possibility of an innate moral sense and the various means of moral knowledge. In Neo-Confucians’ views, morality takes its root either in the universal goodness of human nature, or in the individual’s moral reflection and cultivation of the human mind. This debate between the School of Nature and the School of Mind was one of the major themes in Neo-Confucianism. Finally, in Neo-Confucianism we see a consistent effort not only to redefine a realist worldview that affirms the world as existing independently of human conception, but also to reassert (after Daoism and Buddhism) a humanist worldview that places human beings at the center of meaning and values. These trends delineate the spirit of Neo-Confucianism.  Unfortunately, in the West neo-Confucianism is far less studied than classical Confucianism. Other than the short selective translation in the Source Book (Chan 1963, under General Overview), there is little translation of primary texts (the ones available will be mentioned under individual philosopher). Of secondary materials, Makeham 2010 gives the most complete coverage of neo-Confucianism, but it is a collection of essays by different authors. Cheng 1991 is a collection of a seasoned scholar’s essays on Confucianism, and Part III is devoted to Neo-Confucianism.  Both Bol 2010 and de Bary 1981 take the historical approach.  Bol 2010 covers the cultural and political background in which neo-Confucianism emerged and developed, while De Bary 1981 traces the development of neo-Confucian orthodoxy from the Yuan dynasty to Tokugawa Japan. Liu 1998 provides a short beginner’s guide to neo-Confucianism in addition to classical Confucianism. 

 

Bol, Peter. Neo-Confucianism in History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010.

This book takes an intellectual historical approach to Neo-Confucianism. It is useful for readers who want to know the historical background of neo-Confucianism.

 

Cheng, Chung-ying. New Dimensions of Confucian and Neo-Confucian Philosophy. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. 1991.

This book is a collection of essays by the author, who has been plowing the field for many years and is instrumental in promoting Chinese philosophy in the West. These essays were written over a span of twenty years from 1965 to 1985. Part III of this book contains seven sophisticated papers on key thinkers such as Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming. The final essay, a comparative study on Neo-Confucianism and A. N. Whitehead’s process philosophy, led an important direction for comparative philosophy.

 

De Bary, William Theodore. Neo-Confucian Orthodoxy and the Learning of the Mind-and-Heart. New York: Columbia University Press. 1981.

This book, written by a distinguished historian de Bary, contains three essays.  The first essay explains the historical and political background of neo-Confucianism in the Yuan dynasty. The second essay analyzes how neo-Confucian orthodoxy was established and fortified.  The final essay traces the intellectual history of neo-Confucian orthodoxy in Tokugawa Japan. This book is probably of interest only to scholars of intellectual history.

 

Liu, Shu-hsien 劉述先. Understanding Confucian Philosophy: Classical and Sung Ming. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998.

This book provides a general introduction to Confucianism, and Part II deals specifically with Neo-Confucianism. The analysis is accessible but traditional.

 

Makeham, John, ed. Dao Companion to Neo-Confucian Philosophy (Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy). Dordrecht Heidelberg London New York: Springer, 2010.

This collection contains comprehensive essays that devote to the following Neo-Confucians: Zhou Dunyi, Shao Yong, Zhang Zai, Cheng Yi, Cheng Hao, Hu Hong, Zhang Shi, Zhu Xi, Lu Zuqian, Chen Chun, Lu Xiangshan, Wang Yangming, Liu Zongzhou, Wang Fuzhi, Li Guangdi and Dai Zhen. Each chapter provides solid introduction to the philosopher covered. Individual chapters will not be mentioned separately in the following bibliography.

 

SONG-MING NEO-CONFUCIANISM

Major Neo-Confucians in the Song-Ming period include Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073), Shao Yong (1011-1077), Zhang Zai (1020-1077), the Cheng brothers – Cheng Hao (1032-1085) and Cheng Yi (1033-1107), Lu Xiangshan (1139-1193), Zhu Xi (1130-1200), Wang Yangming (1472-1529), and Wang Fuzhi (1619-1692). Other than what is selected in Chan’s Source Book (Chan 1963, cited under *General Overviews*), there are scanty translations of Neo-Confucian works in English. The translations are of Zhu Xi (Chan 1967, Gardner 2003, Gardner 1990), Lu Xiangshan (Ivanhoe 2009) and Wang Yangming (Ivanhoe 2009, Henke 2012), but they are mere selections and far from complete in presenting the huge corpus of Neo-Confucian works.  Huang 1999 lists the first eight major philosophers and leaves out Wang Fuzhi, whose copious work and sophisticated philosophical views were not appreciated until of late. Chen 2005, written in Chinese, is a representative work of Chen Lai陳來, a leading expert on the intellectual history of Neo-Confucianism in China today.  Angle 2009 focuses on the ethical teachings of two key neo-Confucians – Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming, and Keenan 2011 focuses on one key ethical theme: self-cultivation.  Among philosophical papers on general themes in neo-Confucianism, Peterson 1986 is an early work that has some impact in the West while Tang 1971 represents a well-received Chinese perspective.  More recent works such as Liu 2005 takes on neo-Confucian metaphysics with the analytic approach, and Behuniak Jr. 2009 gives the important concept Li a revolutionary analysis inspired by Plato’s day analogy in the Parmenides.

 

Angle, Stephen C. Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2009.

This book focuses primarily on two neo-Confucians – Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming. It analyzes the notion of sagehood as handled by these two philosophers and explicates their moral psychology, virtue ethics and their views on education. It renders the ethical teachings of Neo-Confucianism more engaging for contemporary readers.

 

Behuniak Jr., James.  Li In East Asian Buddhism: One Approach from Plato's Parmenides.” Asian Philosophy 19 (1):31 – 49. 2009.

How to analyze the concept of Li (translated as principle, order, coherence, pattern, etc.) has always been a challenging task for scholars on neo-Confucianism, and in this paper, the author offers an innovative interpretation using Plato’s analogy of day as the interpretative tool. It is a refreshing piece even if readers do not accept this interpretation.

 

Chen, Lai 陳來. Songming Lixue 宋明理學. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press, 2005. 2nd edition.

This Chinese book is the renowned Chinese scholar Chen Lai’s introduction to Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism. The analysis is of the more traditional style, focusing on conceptual analysis and historical lineage.

 

Huang, Siu-chi黃秀璣. Essentials of Neo-Confucianism: Eight Major Philosophers of the Song and Ming Periods. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999.

This is a somewhat dated book in that the analysis is more traditional, but the explications of the eight philosophers selected here are useful as introductory pieces.

 

Keenan, Barry. Neo-Confucian Self-Cultivation. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2011.

This small book focuses on the theme of self-cultivation in the Great Learning treated by the Cheng brothers and Zhu Xi. It also provides the background in the intellectual history of Neo-Confucianism.

 

Liu, JeeLoo. “The Status of Cosmic Principle (Li) in Neo-Confucian Metaphysics.Journal of Chinese Philosophy 32, No. 3 (2005): 391-407.

This article takes a comparative approach from contemporary analytic metaphysics. It uses the notion supervenience to analyze the different views presented by Zhu Xi and Zhang Zai.

 

Peterson, Willard 1986. “Another Look at Li.” The Bulletin of Sung and Yuan Studies 18:13-32.

This work argues that the Neo-Confucian concept of li, standardly translated as “principle,” should be rendered as “coherence.” Even though the work is now hard to find, its influence can be seen in more recent works on Neo-Confucianism, such as Angle 2009 (cited under *Chinese Neo-Confucianism*).

 

Tang, Chun-I 唐君毅. “The Spirit and Development of Neo-Confucianism.” Inquiry 14 (1-4): 56 – 83. 1971.

This paper by a renowned New-Confucian Tang Junyi (唐君毅 1909-1978), originally written in Chinese. It can be used as a quick introduction to issues in neo-Confucianism.

 

Zhou Dunyi

Zhou Dunyi (Chou Tun-I 周敦頤, 1017-1073) is standardly regarded as the originator of Neo-Confucianism, but his thought stirred up much controversy in the history of Chinese philosophy. Many philosophers and scholars accused him as being a closet Daoist, in that his short treatise on the Taiji Diagram seems to be a clone of a Daoist Taiji diagram and his allusion to the Boundless (wuji 無極) has often taken to be in reference to nonbeing (wu) in Daoist philosophy. There are hundreds of debates and articles written in Chinese on this diagram, both from the perspective of intellectual history and from the angle of philosophical analysis. In English, Wang 2005 gives a good summary of the controversy and offers a credible explanation of this particular diagram, while Gu 2003 takes the issue to a broader context to reconstruct the diagram as a “mega-sign” in Chinese philosophy.

 

Gu, Ming Dong. “The Taiji Diagram: A Meta-sign in Chinese Thought.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 30 (2):195–218. 2003.

This paper takes a Peircean approach (separating the signifier and the signified) to reconstruct the Taiji Diagram as a sign of representation, and further reconstruct the Chinese sign system of Taiji and Dao. It is a rich paper that can help Western readers understand why Zhou’s brief analysis of the Diagram matters so much in the history of Chinese philosophy.

 

Wang, Robin. “Zhou Dunyi’s Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate Explained (taijitu shuo): A construction of the Confucian metaphysics.” Journal of the History of Ideas 66, No. 3 (2005): 307-23.

This work deals with the various interpretations of Zhou Dunyi’s Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate Explained (taijitu shuo). It is a good introduction to the historical controversy surrounding Zhou’s usage of the term “wuji,” as it carries a Daoist connotation.

 

Shao Yong

Shao Yong (Shao Yung 邵雍, 1011-1077) stood out among Neo-Confucians for his in-depth knowledge of mathematics and his sophisticated study on iconography and numerology.  Using symbols and numbers derived from the Yijing, Shao tried to categorize the whole cosmos, including humans’ worldly affairs, into a structured system.  His studies on the Yijing may have sparked the intense interests in the Yijing among early Neo-Confucians.  However, Shao Yong’s thought is so abstract and sophisticated that even his contemporary philosopher remarked that it would take twenty years to understand it.  As a result, Shao Yong was marginalized in later developments of Neo-Confucianism, and he remains an enigma in Chinese philosophy to this day.  His most important work, the Huangji Jingshi (皇極經世, Book of Supreme World Ordering Principles), is a massive volume investigating the origination of the cosmos on the basis of an A Priori Diagram (xiantian tu 先天圖) that he designed. It is an essential work on Chinese cosmogony, but due to its complexity and the esoteric numerology, few contemporary scholars have done studies on this book.  Fortunately, we have Birdwhistell 1989 that takes on an ambitious task in explicating Shao’s metaphysical ideas. Wyatt 1996 is a philosophical biography of Shao Yong, aiming to reconstruct Shao’s life with the limited information we have of him from his contemporary and his writings. Since there is so little written in English on Shao Yong, both these works are recommended here as they present different aspects of Shao’s philosophy.

 

Birdwhistell, Anne D. Transition to Neo-Confucianism: Shao Yung on Knowledge and Symbols of Reality. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. 1989.

This book aims to unlock the mystery of Shao Yong’s system of symbolic representation of reality. It begins with Shao Yong’s historical and philosophical contexts, and moves on to reconstruct Shao Yong’s thought as an explanatory structure of the operation of the universe.  It is an accessible introduction to an otherwise obtuse philosophy. 

 

Wyatt, Don J. The Recluse of Loyang - Shao Yung and the Moral Evolution of Early Sung Thought. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 1996.

This book may unlock some of the mysteries surrounding Shao Yong the philosopher.  It sets Shao in his historical context, and recounts his family background, his relationships with friendly associates and political enemies. It gives a partial introduction to Shao’s moral philosophy, and challenges Birdwhistell 1989’s negligent treatment of Shao’s moral philosophy.

 

Zhang Zai

Zhang Zai (Chang Tsai張載, 1020-1077) played an instrumental role in establishing qi philosophy in neo-Confucianism. His theory of qi differs from previous Daoist conceptions of qi in three key aspects: qi exists from time immemorial, qi was always in polarity from the beginning and qi is ordered with its internal pattern, which he calls ‘Li ().’  Nowadays, Chinese intellectual historians group Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism into three camps, with Zhang leading the camp of qi ontology.  His thoughts greatly influenced later qi-philosophers, the most notable of whom is Wang Fuzhi.  The two philosophers are often studied together as in Liu 2011 and Liu 2012 (cited under Wang Fuzhi). Kasoff 1984 is the only book-length treatment of Zhang Zai’s philosophy. Contemporary scholars focus on his theory of qi, which has been commonly named “qi monism” or “substance monism,” though the designation of “monism” is highly controversial.  A recent work Kim 2011 challenges such an understanding.

 

Kasoff, Ira E. The Thought of Chang Tsai (1020-1077). Cambridge University Press, 1984.

This is the only book on Zhang Zai’s philosophy in English. It places Zhang Zai in his historical context and explicates his many philosophical ideas, highlighting sagehood and his view on human nature. It provides a nice introduction to Zhang Zai’s philosophy.

 

Kim, Jung-Yeup. “A Revisionist Understanding of Zhang Zai's Development of Qi in the Context of his Critique of the Buddhist.” Asian Philosophy 20 (2):111-126. 2011.

This article criticizes the prevalent denomination of Zhang Zai’s metaphysics as a form of substance dualism. It provides an alternative perspective with persuasive argumentation.

 

Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi

Cheng Hao (Cheng Mingdao, 1032-1085) and Cheng Yi (Cheng Yichuan程頤, 1033-1107), commonly known as the Two Chengs, in that their sayings, writings, anecdotes are compiled together as the Collected Works of the Two Chengs (Ercheng Ji  ).  Some of the remarks in this collection are simply referred to as “Master Cheng says” without indicating which of the two brothers said it.  As a result, their view(s) are often jointly presented as the Two Chengs’ view, such as in Graham 1992 and Huang 2003.  Nevertheless, many contemporary Chinese  scholars such as Chen 2005 (cited under Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism) have convincingly argued that Cheng Hao’s ideas paved the ground for the later Lu-Wang school that stresses the role of the heart/mind (xin ), while Cheng Yi’s view, under Zhu Xi’s elaboration, established the school of Li (lixue 理學).  What is usually called the Cheng-Zhu School typically refers to the followers of Cheng Yi’s and Zhu Xi’s teachings.  The Cheng brothers’ major contributions to neo-Confucianism include Cheng Yi’s conception of Li (), Cheng Hao’s singling out “humaneness” (ren ) as the primary virtue, and the two Chengs’ theories of human nature.  These ideas were later further developed by Zhu Xi into a more systematic philosophy.  Other than the brief selections in Chan 1963, there is no English translation of their works. Of secondary materials, Graham 1958/1992 is an early work of this known sinologist, and it offers a comprehensive but accessible introduction to the two brothers’ views. Of late, Yong Huang has done extensive writings on the two brothers, such as Huang 2008 and Huang 2003.  He has a book on the Cheng brothers forthcoming.

 

Graham, A. C. Two Chinese Philosophers: The Metaphysics of the Brothers Ch’eng.  La Salle, IL: Open Court. 1992.

Graham’s work on the Cheng brothers opened the door of Neo-Confucianism to scholars on Chinese philosophy in English. Originally published in 1958, this small book analyzes key concepts in both Cheng Hao’s and Cheng Yi’s philosophy.  Even though this book was written in the 1950s, it is still a valuable study on the Cheng brothers.

 

Huang, Yong. "WHY BE MORAL? The Cheng Brothers' Neo-Confucian Answer.” Journal of Religious Ethics 36 (2): 321-353. 2008.

This paper deals with the issue of moral motivation, and offers a sophisticated and contemporary analysis on Cheng brothers’ moral psychology.  It is an important paper for anyone interested in the comparative analytic study on Neo-Confucianism.

 

Huang, Yong. “Cheng Brothers’ Neo-Confucian Virtue Ethics: The Identity of Virtue and Nature.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 30, No. 3-4: 451-467. 2003.

Huang’s works on the Cheng brothers’ virtue ethics are among the first to take the comparative approach to establish Neo-Confucian virtue ethics. This paper also examines the issue of fact and value to address Hume’s concern about deriving ought from is. This paper is not a textual interpretation of the philosophy in its historical context, but an innovative reconstruction of the Cheng brothers’ view to address a contemporary philosophical issue.

 

Lu Xiangshan

Lu Xiangshan (Lu Hsiang-Shan 象山; Lu Jiuyuan陸九淵, 1139-1193) is most famous for his philosophical disagreement with Zhu Xi, which led to the formation of the school of the heart/mind (xingxue 心學) founded by Wang Yangming.  Lu and his brother met up with Zhu Xi at the Goose Lake and later exchanged numerous letters, which became more and more heated.  This exchange later became known as the Goose Lake Meeting (erhuzhihui 鵝湖之會).  Their philosophical disagreement centered on their different methodology of becoming a sage.  Lu criticized Zhu Xi for overemphasizing the investigation of all sorts of things, and claimed that such pursuit of external knowledge is too “trivial” and fragmented to truly benefit the learner.  Instead, as he argues, one should focus on one’s own mind to seek true wisdom in dealing with worldly affairs. Zhu Xi, on the other hand, thought that Lu’s teaching is too simplified and too idle.  Lu’s famous slogan is “The Universe is my mind; my mind is the Universe.”  His teaching greatly influenced Wang Yangming, who later advocated the learning of the heart/mind, which became a dominant view in late Ming dynasty.  There is fortunately a good reader on both Lu Xiangshan’s and Wang Yangming’s writings, Ivanhoe 2009, which gives a fair representation of the two philosophers’ comments and writings.  Ching 1974 and Huang 1987 provide good historical background and philosophical analysis of the famed Goose Lake Debate.  Huang 1944 is still the only monograph written in English on Lu’s philosophy.

 

Ivanhoe, Philip J. Readings from the Lu-Wang School of Neo-Confucianism. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2009.

This book gives reliable and elegant translations of selected works by Lu Xiangshan and Wang Yangming.  Ivanhoe is a seasoned scholar on Chinese philosophy, and his translation reflects a deep philosophical understanding of the two philosophers’ views, as well as a comprehensive knowledge of the tradition of Chinese philosophy.

 

Ching, Julia. “The Goose Lake Monastery Debate (1175).” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 1, No. 2: 161-178. 1974.

This paper gives a historical reconstruction of the Goose Lake debate, and cast the focus of Lu and Zhu’s debate over the primacy of learning or wisdom. The details of the Goose Lake Debate are well known to Chinese scholars, but for those who are not familiar with the history, this paper serves as a reliable guide to the debate.

 

Huang, Chin-Hsing. “Chu Hsi versus Lu Hsiang-Shan: A Philosophical Interpretation.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 14, No. 2: 179-208. 1987.

This paper offers a new interpretation of the nature of the debate, and argues that the central disagreement between Zhu Xi and Lu Xiangshan is not on their methodology, but in their respective ontological presupposition of the nature of mind.  This interpretation, though contrary to the traditional view, is quite convincing and it offers a new understanding of the key issues in Neo-Confucianism.

 

Huang, Siu-chi黃秀璣. Lu Hsiang-Shan: A Twelfth Century Chinese Idealist Philosopher. New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society. 1944.  Reprinted in 2010 by Kessinger Publishing, LLC.

This is the only book-length monograph devoted to Lu Xiangshan.  Written by the author of Essentials of Neo-Confucianism (Huang 1999, cited under Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism), this little book (less than one hundred pages) places Lu in his intellectual historical context and explains his cosmology in comparison to that of Zhu Xi.  It can be used as a beginner’s guide to Lu Xiangshan.  

 

Zhu Xi

Zhu Xi (Chu Hsi 朱熹, 1130-1200) was the most influential Confucian since Confucius and Mencius, both because of his systematic philosophy and his political clout. Zhu Xi is standardly considered the “synthesizer of Song Neo-Confucianism,” and he was instrumental in establishing Confucian classics as the official documents for civic exams. His commentary and interpretation of the Confucian classics became the officially sanctioned orthodoxy.  Zhu Xi is regarded as the founder of the school of principle (lixue 理學), as his main thesis is that nature is identical with principle.  By “nature,” Zhu Xi means the essential traits of each particular thing.  He advocated “the Investigation of things (gewu 格物), which to him means studying the principle within each material object and daily affair.  Zhu Xi believes that one needs to investigate as many things as possible in order to extend the knowledge of Heavenly Principle.  He also redefines “Taiji” as principle, and treats it as the origin of the Universe as well as the ontological foundation of all things. In addition, Zhu Xi also developed a sophisticated virtue ethics and moral epistemology. Zhu Xi’s philosophy is preserved in his numerous commentaries on ancient Confucian texts and his extensive discourses with students and correspondences with associates. In Chinese, his essays and correspondences, etc. have been compiled into a ten-book set of Collected Writings of Zhu Xi (Zhuzi wenji 朱子文集), and his discourses with students were recorded by numerous students and compiled into (several editions of) The Recorded Sayings of Zhu Xi (Zhuji yulu朱子語錄).  The current popular version of his recorded sayings is a set of one-hundred-forty volumes Categorized Recorded Sayings of Zhu Xi (Zhuzi yulei 朱子語類).  Since this collection includes Zhu Xi’s explanations of his ideas in the Q&A with students, and the content is organized thematically, it is the most valuable primary source for Zhu Xi scholars.  The complete electronic text of this collection is available at **Zhongguo zhexueshu dianzihua jihua 中國哲學書電子化計劃** http://ctext.org/zhuzi-yulei/zh).  Unfortunately, most of his works and discourses have not been translated into English.  Of primary sources in English, we have Chan 1967, Gardner 2003, Gardner 1990, etc., which translates a tiny portion of Zhu Xi’s copious work and remarks. There are many secondary sources in English, as among all neo-Confucians, Zhu Xi receives the most attention from contemporary scholars working in English. Chan 1989 and Chan 1986 represent earlier scholars’ researches on Zhu Xi, which are more or less from the intellectual historical approach. Kim 2000 is a well-researched book on Zhu Xi’s epistemology and his attitude toward natural science.  Angle 2009 ((cited under Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism) is a monograph devoted to Zhu Xi’s and Wang Yangming’s moral philosophy. The book has received high praises from scholars in the field.  

 

Chan, Wing-tsit. Trans. Reflections on Things at Hand (compiled by Zhu Xi). New York: Columbia University Press, 1967.

This work is a translation of Zhu Xi’s Reflections on Things at Hand (Jinsilu 近思錄), which is a compilation of important sayings of early Sung Neo-Confucians.

 

Gardner, Daniel. Zhu Xi's Reading of the Analects: Canon, Commentary and the Classical Tradition (Asian Studies). New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

This is a translation of Zhu Xi’s commentary on the Analects, which is more than just a textual commentary but is imbued with Zhu’s philosophical insights.

 

Gardner, Daniel. Learning to Be A Sage: Selections from the Conversations of Master Chu, Arranged Topically. CA: University of California Press, 1990.

This book provides selected translation of Zhu’s recorded sayings.  

 

Chan, Wing-tsit.  Zhu Xi: New Studies. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 1989.

Wing-tsit Chan, editor of A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Chan 1963), is also an expert and a staunch defender of Zhu Xi.  This book represents Chan’s lifelong studies of Zhu Xi, with more than thirty papers treating various aspects of Zhu’s life, philosophy and associations. It should be book of interest to Zhu Xi scholars. 

 

Chan, Wing-tsit (Ed.) Chu Hsi and Neo-Confucianism. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 1986.

This book consists of more than thirty papers on Zhu Xi written by known scholars on Neo-Confucianism. The basis of this anthology is a conference on Zhu Xi held in Honolulu in 1982.  Paper topics mostly reflect studies on Zhu Xi in his historical contexts. There are, however, several papers on Zhu Xi’s theory of principle and the Great Ultimate (Taiji). They will be of interest to scholars who want to learn about Zhu Xi’s metaphysics.

 

Kim, Yunk Sik. The Natural Philosophy of Chu Hsi (1130-1200). Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2000.

This is a scholarly and yet accessible work on Zhu Xi’s theory of knowledge, his worldview and his attitude toward science. It provides a helpful guidance to Zhu Xi’s philosophy.

 

Wang Yangming

Wang Yangming (王陽明; Wang Shouren守仁, 1472-1529) closely followed Lu Xiangshan’s direction in paying closer attention to the internal investigation of the mind.  They both advocate the view that “mind is principle.”  In the history of Chinese philosophy, the two philosophers are often called “the Lu-Wang School,” and the debate between the Lu-Wang School and the “Cheng-Zhu School” was the dominant theme in Neo-Confucianism.  Of primary sources, Chan 1963, Henke 2012 and Ching 1976 are three older translations of Wang’s writings, and Ivanhoe 2009 (cited under Lu Xiangshan) is a more contemporary translation with valuable notations. In addition to providing translation of Wang’s essays and poems, Ching 1976 remains an indispensable introduction to Wang’s overall philosophy.  There are five main theses in Wang’s philosophy: (1) Mind is principle; (2) We all have an innate knowledge/perception of the good, which he calls Liangzhi  (良知); (3) We need to “rectify things” (gewu 格物), which according to Wang’s interpretation means to get rid of evil and to return to our innate good sense; (4) the unity of knowledge and action; and (5) Humanity (ren) begins with family love.  Of these themes, contemporary scholars focus more on (2) and (4). Cua 1982 is a classic analysis on thesis (4) while Frisina 2002 gives this thesis a more contemporary approach to reinterpret this thesis of the unity of knowledge and action.  Ivanhoe 2011 gives an innovative analysis of Wang’s theory of Liangzhi, rendered as “pure knowledge” or “moral perception.”  Tien 2004 is a sophisticated comparative study on Wang Yangming and Tien 2012 provides a reconstruction of Wang Yangming’s moral psychology. All three articles situate Wang’s thought in the contemporary philosophical context. 

 

Chan, Wing-tsit (Trans.) Instructions for Practical Living and Other Neo-Confucian Writing. New York: Columbia University Press. 1963.

This book provides a reliable and accessible translation of Wang’s major work, Instructions for Practical Living (chuanxilu傳習錄), and his philosophical correspondences.

 

Henke, Frederick Goodrich. The Philosophy of Wang Yang-Ming Translated from the Chinese (Classic Reprint). Forgotten Books, 2012.

This is a reprint of an old translation from 1916, published by Open Court. The collection contains Wang’s essential works (Instructions for Practical Life, Record of Discourses and Inquiry regarding the Great Learning) and many of his scholarly letters.

 

Ivanhoe, Philip J. Readings from the Lu-Wang School of Neo-Confucianism. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2009.

This book includes translations of Wang Yangming’s Questions on the Great Learning (daxue wen 大學問) and A Record for Practice (chuanxilu 傳習錄), as well as additional selections from Wang’s philosophical correspondence and his poetry.  The helpful notations, along with the elegant translation and representative selections of the text, make this book an authoritative edition of Lu-Wang’s works in English.

 

Ching, Julia秦家懿. To Acquire Wisdom: The Way of Wang Yangming. New York: Columbia University Press. 1976.

This is the first systematic work on Wang Yangming in English, written by the late Dr. Ching, a well respected expert on neo-Confucianism. Part I of this book contains Ching’s detailed analysis of Wang’s philosophy; Part II includes her selected translations of Wang’s essays and poems. Anyone working on Wang Yangming should begin with this book.

 

Cua, Antonio S. Unity of Knowledge and Action: A Study in Wang Yang-Ming’s Moral Psychology. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 1982.

This book gives a comprehensive analysis of Wang’s key thesis of the unity of knowledge and action in the context of his philosophy of mind and theory of action. In many ways, Cua’s analysis of Wang paved the ground for new directions in the study of Chinese moral philosophy.

 

Frisina, Warren G. The Unity of Knowledge and Action. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. 2002.

This book takes an innovative approach to the understanding of Wang Yangming’s major thesis of the unity of knowledge and action. Though the interpretation might not strike traditional scholars as true to Wang Yangming, the philosophical potential of Wang’s view is greatly enhanced by this approach.

 

Ivanhoe, Philip J. “McDowell, Wang Yangming, and Mengzi's Contributions to Understanding Moral Perception.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (3): 273-290. 2011.

This paper takes a contemporary perspective and comparative analysis to reconstruct Wang Yangming’s view of moral perception. It opens new topics for the study of Confucian moral psychology.

 

Tien, David W.  “Warranted Neo-Confucian Belief: Religious Pluralism and the Affections in the Epistemologies of Wang Yangming (1472–1529) and Alvin Plantinga.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 55 (1): 31-55. 2004.

This paper is a constructive comparative study on Wang Yangming and Alvin Plantinga. Building on a contemporary reconstruction of Wang’s epistemology, the paper argues that Wang’s theory can constitute a defeater for the rationality of Christian belief on Plantinga's theory of warrant.  The paper is nicely written and provides a new approach for the study of Wang Yangming’s philosophy.

 

Tien, David W. “Oneness and Self-Centeredness in the Moral Psychology of Wang Yangming.” Journal of Religious Ethics 40 (1): 52-71. 2012.

This paper reconstructs Wang Yangming’s moral psychology with regard to private desires. It emphasizes a conceptual distinction between selfishness and self-centeredness, and argues that personal desires should be characterized as self-centered rather than selfish. It is a clear paper with convincing argumentation.

 

Wang Fuzhi

Wang Fuzhi (Wang Fu-chih王夫之, 1619-1692) was one of the most (if not the most) prolific philosophy writers in the history of Chinese philosophy, and his contributions to the reinvention of Confucianism could not be enumerated.  Wang thought that Neo-Confucianism developed to his times has greatly distorted the essence of classical Confucianism, and vowed to spend his mature life to rediscovering and reinvigorating the ideas in the classics themselves.  By writing massive commentary on the classics, Wang’s own philosophy emerged as a new form of qi-naturalism derived from the Yijing, as well as a new form of moral psychology informed by Mencius’ conviction in the goodness of human nature.  Even though there are many books and articles on Wang Fuzhi in Chinese, due to the absence of English translation of Wang’s copious works, there is virtually little research on his philosophy in English.  Fortunately, we have Black 1989 that provides a comprehensive introduction to Wang’s metaphysics, his epistemology and his moral philosophy.  Among current scholars writing in English, JeeLoo Liu has done the most work on Wang Fuzhi, reconstructing his philosophy of history, his metaphysics and his moral psychology. Liu 2001 is an early work on Wang’s philosophy of history, Liu 2011 reconstructs Zhang Zai and Wang Fuzhi’s view on qi into qi-realism, and Liu 2012 takes Wang’s moral psychology to defend a form of social sentimentalism.

 

Black, Alison Harley. Man and Nature in the Philosophical Thought of Wang Fuzhi. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 1989.

This is the first systematic study of Wang Fuzhi’s philosophy in English. This book is well written and provides a good introduction to Wang’s philosophy.

 

Liu, JeeLoo. “Is Human History Predestined in Wang Fuzhi's Cosmology?” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 28 (3):321–338. 2001.

This paper examines the issue of determinism in Wang Fuzhi’s philosophy of history. It takes the analytic approach to defend humans’ ability to manipulate states of affairs under the historical pattern of chaos and prosperity. 

 

Liu, JeeLoo. “The Is-Ought Correlation in Neo-Confucian Qi-Realism.” Contemporary Chinese Thought 43 (1): 60-77. 2011.

This paper tackles the issue of fact and value in neo-Confucian qi-philosophy championed by Zhang Zai, Luo Qinshun (羅欽順 1465-1547), Wang Tingxiang (王廷相1474-1544) and Wang Fuzhi.  It is not a historical survey but an analytic reconstruction of this qi philosophy into qi-realism.

 

Liu, JeeLoo. “Moral Reason, Moral Sentiments and the Realization of Altruism: A Motivational Theory of Altruism.” Asian Philosophy 22, No. 2 (2012): 93-119.

This paper engages in a comparative study on Thomas Nagel, Zhang Zai and Wang Fuzhi in terms of their views on altruism or humaneness. It further suggests a social sentimentalist proposal, inspired by Wang Fuzhi’s view, for developing altruism in contemporary society.

 

QING NEO-CONFUCIANISM

Neo-Confucianism in the Qing dynasty (1636-1911) was reactionary against the development of Neo-Confucianism in Song Ming dynasties, and it aimed to return to the classics. The scholarly interests of the time were primarily on the philological analysis of classical Confucian texts, and hence the works are often not philosophically engaging. There were some exceptions, however, such as in the works of Yan Yuan (顏元1635-1704), Dai Zhen (戴震1724-1777) and Zhang Xuecheng (章學誠1738-1801). In the English world, more attention has been paid to the philosophical thought of *Dai Zhen*.  

 

Dai Zhen

Among Qing Neo-Confucians, Dai Zhen (Tai Chen戴震, 1724-1777) receives the most attention in the West for his revolutionary thought against orthodox Neo-Confucianism in the Cheng-Zhu tradition.  Dai has a more realistic attitude toward human desires and does not view them as obstacles to moral cultivation as some Neo-Confucians did before him. Cheng 1971 and Chin 1990 are some translations of Dai Zhen’s work. To see how Dai’s view transformed neo-Confucianism, one could consult Lee 1991. Contemporary research, such as Tiwald 2011 and Ewell 1991, focus more on Dai Zhen’s theory of human nature and the foundation for morality, in an effort to reconstruct his moral psychology. Tiwald’s recent discussion on Dai Zhen’s moral psychology is especially noteworthy.

 

Cheng, Chung-ying. Tai Chźn’s Inquiry into Goodness. Honolulu: East-West Center Press. 1971.

This book is a translation of Dai Zhen’s Inquiry into Goodness (Yuan Shan 原善).  It is an essential work for reconstructing Dai Zhen’s moral psychology.

 

Chin, Ann-ping, and Freeman, Mansfield. Tai Chen on Mencius: Explorations in Words and Meanings. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

This books is a translation of Dai Zhen’s work Mencius: Explorations in Words and Meanings (Mengzi ziyi shuzheng 孟子字義疏證). Since Mencius’ theory of the goodness of human nature was the basis of Dai’s own philosophy,

 

Ewell, John. “Dai Zhen: The Unity of the Moral Nature.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 18, No. 4 (1991): 387-394.

This work presents Dai Zhen’s unique moral psychology. It is one of the earliest works on Dai Zhen.

 

Lee, Jig-Chuen. “How Tai Chen differs from the Neo-Confucianists on Li.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 18m No. 4 (1991): 395-409.

This work highlights Dai Zhen’s revolutionary view on the notion of li. For scholars interested in the development of Neo-Confucianism past the Song-Ming era, this is a good paper to read.

 

Tiwald, Justin. “Dai Zhen’s Defense of Self-interest.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38s: 29-45. 2011.

Tiwald has done extensive and philosophically engaging studies on Dai Zhen. This is a representative of his many works on Dai Zhen’s moral psychology, his notion of desire and his ethical theory.

 

CONTEMPORARY NEW CONFUCIANISM (20TH CENTURY)

Contemporary New Confucianism refers to the Chinese philosophers active in the twentieth century. These philosophers were exposed to Western philosophy to varying degrees, and they had the ambition of reconstructing Chinese philosophy, in particular, Confucianism, with the new vocabulary and ideas from Western philosophy. The major philosophers in this group include Xiong Shili (熊十力1885-1968), Liang Shuming (梁漱溟1893-1988), Feng Youlan (馮友蘭1895-1990), Fang Dongmei, also known as Thomé H. Fang (方東美1899-1977), Tang Junyi (唐君毅1909-1978), and Mou Zongsan (牟宗三1909-1995). Currently, there are still many followers of Tang and Mou in Taiwan and in Hong Kong. The system philosophy of Mou Zongsan is particularly worth noting. For scholars on contemporary New Confucianism, Mou Zongsan’s philosophical impact is indisputable.  Many scholars in Taiwan are greatly influenced by Mou’s take on Neo-Confucianism, and his fusion of (his take on) Kant and Chinese philosophy has created a new direction in the developments of Chinese philosophy past the twentieth century.  Major works by Mou include Mou’s three-volume set of Xinti yu Xingti心體與性體 (a thematic philosophical analysis of Neo-Confucianism), Caixing yu Xuanli才性與玄理 (a detailed analysis of Neo-Daoism in Wei-Jin dynasties), and Foxing yu Boluo佛性與般若 (a philosophical analysis of different Buddhist philosophy).  Tang Junyi’s major works includes Daode Ziwo zhi Jianli 道德自我之建立, which presents Tang’s own moral philosophy. It examines the foundation of moral life and the possibility of being moral. The individual is placed in the context of the world in the pursuit of the fulfillment of a moral self. This teaching had a great impact on Chinese intellectuals.  His Zhongguo Zhexue Yuanlun 中國哲學原論 gives the history of the development of key concepts in Chinese philosophy such as conceptions of human nature and of Dao. It also includes detailed analysis of the development of Neo-Confucianism.  Probably because of the immense sizes and colossal topics of these books, so far there are no English translations of the above works. Among secondary materials in English, Makeham 2003 is a collection of essays on various New Confucians, while Liu 2003 gives a general introduction to New Confucianism. Of late, there are a number of English book-length works devoted to various aspects of Mou Zongsan’s philosophy, such as Clower 2010 and Angle 2012. 

 

Angle, Stephen C. Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2012.

This book develops Mou Zongsan’s political philosophy in the contemporary context. It also briefly introduces current philosophical developments in China and in Taiwan.

 

Clower, Jason.  The Unlikely Buddhologist: Tiantai Buddhism in Mou Zongsan's New Confucianism (Modern Chinese Philosophy).  Brill Academic Pub. 2010.

This book examines how Mou Zongsan incorporated ideas from Tiantai Buddhism into his own philosophical system. It provides a sophisticated analysis of both Tiantai philosophy and Mou’s philosophy. 

 

Liu, Shu-hsien. Essentials of Contemporary Neo-Confucian Philosophy. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.

This book introduces contemporary New Confucianism in its intellectual historical background. It devotes one chapter each to the following Confucians in the twentieth century: Feng Youlan, Xiong Shili, Fang Dongmei, Tang Junyi and Mou Zongsan. It also gives a brief introduction to some currently active New Confucians.  It can serve as a beginner’s guide to new Confucianism.

 

Makeham, John, ed. New Confucianism: A Critical Examination. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

This book contains eight essays on general themes of New Confucianism and analysis of the philosophy of a few key New Confucians such as Liang Shuming, Feng Youlan, Mou Zongsan and Xiong Shili.  These essays, written by known scholars, paved the ground for further investigation of New Confucianism.