New Book: Readings in Later Chinese Philosophy

RLCP_cover  I’m pleased to announce the publication of our reader in post-classical Chinese philosophy.

I’ll put the details below the fold, but it might help to have a quick summary of some the book’s most noteworthy (or at least distinctive) advantages.

  • Better selections than Chan’s Sourcebook, including several overlooked gems and works on and by women
  • Consistent translations of key terms and oft-quoted passages
  • Begone Wade-Giles!


Here’s the publisher’s description:

An exceptional contribution to the teaching and study of Chinese thought, this anthology provides fifty-eight selections arranged chronologically in five main sections: Han Thought, Chinese Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, Late Imperial Confucianism, and the early Twentieth Century. The editors have selected writings that have been influential, that are philosophically engaging, and that can be understood as elements of an ongoing dialogue, particularly on issues regarding ethical cultivation, human nature, virtue, government, and the underlying structure of the universe. Within those topics, issues of contemporary interest, such as Chinese ideas about gender and the experiences of women, are brought to light.

Introductions to each main section provide an overview of the period, while brief headnotes to selections highlight key points.

The translations are the works of many distinguished scholars, and were chosen for their accuracy and accessibility, especially for students, general readers, and scholars who do not read Chinese. Special effort has been made to maintain consistency of key terms across translations.

And here is the book’s Table of Contents.

5 replies on “New Book: Readings in Later Chinese Philosophy”

  1. Hi Justin. Looks nice. What’s the thinking behind not having any selections at all from Wang Chong and Huainanzi? Is the idea to focus on a “later” that comes later than that and to reach back only to the influences on Neoconfucianism? Just wondering.

    • Maybe you have them sprinkled in, topically, but without chapters or sections devoted entirely to them. I don’t have the book in front of me so I can’t tell. Thanks in advance.

  2. Thanks, Manyul. We do have some of the Huainanzi in the “Cosmology” section, but no Wang Chong.

    Of course, our options were constrained somewhat by translation rights, permissions, and the preferences of the contributing translators, but aside from those I’d say there were three major considerations for choosing a piece. One was historical influence, a second was independent philosophical merit, and a third was whether the piece could be used to reconstruct a major debate or philosophical theme that runs across multiple selections–e.g., the nature and basis of political authority, women and gender, the value of sheng 生 (life, growth, procreation) as opposed to transcending life and death, other disputes in the great debate between Buddhism and Confucianism. Tracking all three of those considerations–in addition to a lot of lesser ones–made for some excruciatingly difficult decisions.

    So goes my apology for leaving out Wang Chong and a lot of other very good candidates that we couldn’t quite fit. Hope people will at least sympathize, even if they continue to see some omission or other as unconscionable!

  3. I think that last consideration (whether a piece helps to illuminate a running debate) is particularly important for a course reader. If the students can reconstruct the debates, that puts the them in a better position to engage the materials philosophically (which makes philosophy instructors happy) and understand why and in what respects a view was contentious (which makes history instructors happy). In my experience, that makes for fewer book-reportish essays a much better grip on the historical context.

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