One of the things I subscribe to in Google Reader, but almost never look at, is a feed from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy listing new or updated articles. Why am I subscribed to this? I have no idea. But yesterday I clicked on it, and started to scroll back through the new stuff posted there over the last months. Increasingly, I found myself wondering: how come none of these concern Chinese philosophy? A fair number dealt with figures or concepts from Indian or Tibetan philosophy, but not until I got all the way back to Dec 6, 2010 did I find a mention of China. That’s when Kwong-loi Shun updated his article on Mencius. You want the most recent new article on Chinese philosophy? That would be October 1, 2009, when Alan Chan posted one on Neo-Taoism.
One possibility is that occurred to me is that the SEP already deals well with China, and the comparatively large amount of activity concerning India is about catching up or filling in huge gaps? A scan of the existing and planned topics, though, makes it look like there are few articles on China, and few planned. For example, neither “Neo-Confucianism” nor any Neo-Confucians are included, nor are any twentieth century Chinese philosophers on the list. Chinese Buddhism doesn’t fare well, either. I’m not sure how the SEP works, but presumably the first folks to ask about this are the two subject editors for Chinese philosophy, Kwong-loi Shun and Chad Hansen. (Incidentally, “Buddhist philosophy” is not a subject on this list, so presumably any Chinese Buddhism would be covered by the China-subject editors.)
It’s eye-opening to compare the SEP with the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The IEP has a healthy list of China-related entries, including entries on Buddhist and twentieth-century topics. I also note the webpage that China-area editor Jeff Richey maintains, listing topics that are in production and those for which he is actively seeking an author.
As I say, I don’t know much about how the SEP and IEP work, but at the very least, the SEP — which has evolved into an important resource in philosophy — leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to Chinese philosophy.