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Origins of Chinese Political Philosophy

Studies in the Composition and Thought of the Shangshu (Classic of Documents)

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Edited by Martin Kern and Dirk Meyer

Origins of Chinese Political Philosophy is the first book in any Western language to explore the composition, language, thought, and early history of the Shangshu (Classic of Documents), one of the pillars of the Chinese textual, intellectual, and political tradition. In examining the text from multiple disciplinary and intellectual perspectives, Origins of Chinese Political Philosophy challenges the traditional accounts of the nature and formation of the Shangshu and its individual chapters. As it analyzes in detail the central ideas and precepts given voice in the text, it further recasts the Shangshu as a collection of dynamic cultural products that expressed and shaped the political and intellectual discourses of different times and communities.
Contributors are: Joachim Gentz, Yegor Grebnev, Magnus Ribbing Gren, Michael Hunter, Martin Kern, Maria Khayutina, Robin McNeal, Dirk Meyer, Yuri Pines, Charles Sanft, David Schaberg, Kai Vogelsang.

Tang Junyi

Confucian Philosophy and the Challenge of Modernity

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Thomas Fröhlich

Tang Junyi’s modern Confucianism ranks among the most ambitious philosophical projects in 20th century China. In Tang Junyi: Confucian Philosophy and the Challenge of Modernity, Thomas Fröhlich examines Tang Junyi's intellectual reaction to a time of cataclysmic change marked by two Chinese revolutions (1911 and 1949), two world wars, the Cold War period, rapid modernization in East Asia, and the experience of exile.

The present study fundamentally questions widespread interpretations that depict modern Confucianism as essentially traditionalist and nationalistic. Thomas Fröhlich shows that Tang Junyi actually challenges such interpretations with an insightful understanding of the modern individual’s vulnerability, as well as a groundbreaking reinterpretation of Confucianism as the civil-theological foundation for liberal democracy in China.

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Michael Hunter

In Confucius Beyond the Analects, Michael Hunter challenges the standard view of the Analects as the earliest and most authoritative source of the teachings of Confucius. Arguing from a comprehensive survey of the thousands of extant sayings and stories from the early period, Hunter situates the compilation and rise of the Analects in the Western Han period (206 BCE–9 CE), roughly three centuries after the death of Confucius. As a study of the growth and development of the Confucius figure over the course of the early period, the book is also meant to serve as a roadmap for those interested in exploring the wealth and diversity of Confucius material beyond the Analects.

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Edited by Mathew Foust and Sor-Hoon Tan

This work builds on earlier works, which defend Confucianism against charges of sexism and present interpretations of Confucianism compatible with Feminism, but contributors go beyond the much discussed care ethics, and common arguments of how ren (humaneness) can ground an egalitarian humanism that include gender equality. Besides ethics and political philosophy topics, this volume includes discussions in other philosophical areas such as epistemology, metaphysics, and applied philosophy. Through the encounter of Feminism and Confucius’s perspectives, each contributor generates novel answers to the questions addressed. In some cases, authors raise new questions about the chosen topic, inadequacies in how it has been addressed in previous Confucian or Feminist discourse, and/or challenges for either or both Confucianism and Feminism.

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Guorong Yang

In On Human Action and Practical Wisdom, Yang Guorong offers a description of his “concrete metaphysics.” This system seeks to overcome traditional metaphysical problems by providing a concrete basis - which serves as both the starting point and the final determining factor - for metaphysics. Yang gives a discussion of wisdom and practical action that begins in our everyday activities and social relationships, is extended to form universal principles, and finally refers back to actual situations for determining appropriateness.

Based on his unification of ontology, epistemology and axiology, Yang thus attempts to overcome the one-sided understanding of action in modern Western philosophy, targeting in particular the excessively linguistic, logical, and abstract focus found in the American analytic tradition.

Thomé H. Fang, Tang Junyi and Huayan Thought

A Confucian Appropriation of Buddhist Ideas in Response to Scientism in Twentieth-Century China

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King Pong Chiu

In Thomé H. Fang, Tang Junyi and Huayan Thought, King Pong Chiu discusses Thomé H. Fang and Tang Junyi, two of the most important Confucian thinkers in twentieth-century China, who appropriated aspects of the medieval Chinese Buddhist school of Huayan to develop a response to the challenges of ‘scientism’, the belief that quantitative natural science is the only valuable part of human learning and the only source of truth.

As Chiu argues, Fang’s and Tang’s selective appropriations of Huayan thought paid heed to the hermeneutical importance of studying ancient texts in order to be more responsive to modern issues, and helped confirm the values of Confucianism under the challenge of ‘scientism’, a topic widely ignored in academia.

Feng Youlan and Twentieth Century China

An Intellectual Biography

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Xiaoqing Diana Lin

This is an intellectual biography of Feng Youlan [Fung Yu-lan] (1895-1990), one of the preeminent Chinese philosophers of the 20th century. Feng’s life very well captured the vicissitudes of twentieth-century Chinese politics and scholarship. He made his name in the 1930s and ’40s with a path-breaking approach to Chinese philosophy. And he was one of the few prominent pre-1949 non-Communist Chinese scholars who attempted to influence Chinese society with prolific publications after 1949. This monograph explores Feng Youlan’s work and the trajectory of changes in Feng’s philosophical outlook against the social and political contexts of Feng’s life from the 1920s to 1990. Feng’s search for a framework of Chinese philosophy that is open and connected to foreign learning, and a framework of self-cultivation that is open to outside ideas, continues to be important goals for Chinese philosophy today.

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Olivia Milburn

The Spring and Autumn Annals of Master Yan is the biography of the most important statesmen and political thinkers of the Eastern Zhou dynasty China: Yan Ying (d. 500 BCE). Living through an exceptionally troubled period, he served three rulers and two dictators of the state of Qi, in Shandong Province. His experiences informed his revolutionary theories concerning the relationship between the individual and the state.
Long considered to be a forgery, recent archaeological discoveries have proved the Spring and Autumn Annals of Master Yan to be a genuinely ancient text. This book provides not only the first complete translation of the text into any Western language, but a detailed analysis of the context in which it was produced.

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Edited by Joachim Gentz and Dirk Meyer

Literary Forms of Argument in Early China explores formal approaches to the study of philosophical texts to present new methods for the analysis of pre-modern thought in China. Attempts made by Chinese thinkers to generate literary forms of philosophical reasoning have gone unrecognised within scholarship in China and the West. Drawing together the expertise of leading scholars of early Chinese textuality, this volume addresses this omission by examining the formal characteristics of an argument, the interrelationship between form and content, as well as patterned compositions and non-linear semantic utterances. With these comprehensive new readings, the volume makes a landmark contribution to the study of written thinking in early China.
Contributors include: Wim De Reu, Joachim Gentz, Christoph Harbsmeier, Martin Kern, Dirk Meyer, Michael Nylan, Andrew H. Plaks, David Schaberg, Rudolf G. Wagner.

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Edited by Yuri Pines, Paul Goldin and Martin Kern

Ideology of Power and Power of Ideology in Early China explores ancient Chinese political thought during the centuries surrounding the formation of the empire in 221 BCE. The individual chapters examine the ideology and practices of legitimation, views of rulership, conceptualizations of ruler-minister relations, economic thought, and the bureaucratic administration of commoners.
The contributors analyze the formation of power relations from various angles, ranging from artistic expression to religious ideas, political rhetoric, and administrative action. They demonstrate the interrelatedness of historiography and political ideology and show how the same text served both to strengthen the ruler’s authority and moderate his excesses. Together, the chapters highlight the immense complexity of ancient Chinese political thought, and the deep tensions running within it.
Contributors include Scott Cook, Joachim Gentz, Paul R. Goldin, Romain Graziani, Martin Kern, Liu Zehua, Luo Xinhui, Yuri Pines, Roel Sterckx, and Charles Sanft.