Readings in Chinese Philosophy and Culture

SAME AS V83.0123

Covers Chinese thought during the period ca. 500 B.C.E. to 280 C.E., starting from the era of Confucius (d. 479 B.C.E.) down to the unification of the realm in 206 B.C.E., the pre-imperial period that is also known as the warring states. During this time the main schools of Chinese philosophy (except Buddhism) were established. We begin with the Analects to establish the key elements of Confucius' ethical and political philosophy and to explore the implications of his main philosophical terms. We then proceed to examine his critics and followers: the utilitarian Mozi, the metaphysicians Laozi and Zhuangzi, and the legalist Han Feizi are the critics. Mencius elaborates the thought of Confucius, and Xunzi is both a follower and a critic. This brings us to the transition (ca. 200 B.C.E.) from the pre-imperial to the imperial periods. We end with two historical readings: Sima Qian's Record of the Historian (excerpts) and the novel The Three Kingdoms. The former addresses the moment of transition and the establishment of the Qin and Han dynasties; the latter chronicles the fall of the Han dynasty some four centuries later in 220 C.E. and the reconstitution of a unified realm in 280 C.E.

Basic introduction to the writings of Confucius, his adversaries, and his successors, followed by a reading of several novels regarded as national classics.

Course Information



4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

Fall 2017

Moss Roberts
TR: 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM 7E12 LL25

Spring 2018

Ethan Harkness
MW: 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM KIMM 808