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Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy (中國古代哲學導論)

Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy (中國古代哲學導論)

Masayuki Sato (哲學所  佐藤將之)

The course provides a contextual and evolutionary account for how various Chinese classical thoughts…



哲學所 佐藤將之


英文課程名稱:Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy
建立日期:2011 年 9 月


The course provides a contextual and evolutionary account for how various Chinese classical thoughts came into several highly organized socio-political theories, with particular focus on the great intellectual development between the late 4th and the early 3rd century BC.


This is an English graduate course and is designed for both international students who want to acquire basic knowledge about the main issues and arguments in Chinese classical philosophy, and for Chinese students who want to learn skills to ponder and discuss the relevant subjects in English.


This seminar welcomes international students whose mother tongue is not Chinese. In this case, the ability to recognize historical names, events and terminologies by Chinese characters is necessary to follow the course.


  1. a mid-term paper (20%)
  2. a final paper (50%)
  3. presentation (10%)
  4. participation (20%)


Assigned Reading 

10/3 Lecture 1 What is Chinese Philosophy?

Defoort: “Is There such a Thing as Chinese Philosophy?” pp. 393-413.

10/17 Lecture 2 Intellectual Foundation for Chinese Philosophy

Y. L Fung: A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, pp.1-29.

(3) . Mote: Intellectual Foundation of Chinapp. 9-25.

10/24 Lecture 3 Political Origin of Chinese Philosophy and Confucianism

Lewis: “The Warring States Political History”, pp. 587-650.

Sato: The Confucian Quest for Order, pp. 85-108

10/31 Lecture 4 Confucius and the Analects

Fingarett: Confucius: Secular as Sacred, pp.1-56.

11/7 Lecture 5 The Rise of Mohism: An Emulation of Ethical Discourse: The Book of Mozi

Graham: Disputers of Tao, pp. 33-53.

11/14 Lecture 6 The Culmination of Ethical Discourse: The Book of Mencius

Van Norden: Mengzi: pp. xiii-xxxix.

11/21 Lecture 7 The Great Intellectual Transformation: The Jixia Thinkers

Schwartz: The World of Thought in Ancient China, pp.173-185.

Sato: The Confucian Quest for Order, pp.108-146.

11/28 Lecture 8 The Crystallization of the Concept of the Way: The Book of Laozi

Graham: Disputers of Tao, pp. 214-235.

12/5 Lecture 9 The Philosophy of Transformation and Oneness: The Book of Zhuangzi

Graham: Disputers of Tao, pp. 170-211.

12/12 Lecture 10 The Establishment of the Theory of Moral Cultivation: The Book of Xunzi (I)

Graham: Disputers of Tao, pp. 235-267.

12/19 Lecture 11 Theory of Moral Cultivation: The Book of Xunzi (II)

Sato: The Confucian Quest for Order, pp.343-423.

12/26 Lecture 12 The Psychology of Politics and a Search for Power: The Book of Hanfeizi

Hsiao: The History of Chinese Political Thought, pp.368-424.



Extended reading 

(1) C. Defoort: “Is There such a Thing as Chinese Philosophy? Arguments of an Implicit Debate,” Philosophy East and West, Vol. 51, Number 3, July 2001, pp. 393-413.
(2) Y. L. Fung: A Short History of Chinese Philosophy. NY: The Free Press, 1966.
(3) F. Mote: Intellectual Foundation of China. NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971
(4) M. E. Lewis: “The Warring States Political History.” Loewe and Shaughnessy (ed.): The Cambridge History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
(5) M. Sato: The Confucian Quest for Order: The Origin and Formation of the Political Thought of Xun Zi. Leiden: Brill, 2003.
(6) H. Fingarett: Confucius: Secular as Sacred, New York: Harper & Row, 1972.
(7) A. C. Graham: Disputers of Tao, Philosophical Argument in Ancient China, La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1989.
(8) B. W. Van Norden: Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries, Indianapolis: Hackett, 2008.
(9) B. Schwartz: The World of Thought in Ancient China. MA: Harvard University Press, 1985.
(10) K.C. Hsiao (trans. By F. W. Mote): The History of Chinese Political Thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978.

Translations from Chinese Classical Texts
(1) T. de Bary and W. T. Chan (ed.): Sources of Chinese Tradition. Vol. 1, New York: Columbia University Press, 1960.
(2) Burton Watson’s translation of the Mozi, the Zhuangzi, the Xunzi and the Hanfeizi from Columbia University Press. Very readable, but the series translates only a “main” part of those texts.
(3) Chinese Text Project (http://ctext.org/) also provides English translations from a large number of early Chinese philosophical texts. Due to the restriction on copyright, most of translations were made before 1940s.

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