New Book: Harris, Shenzi Fragments

Columbia University Press has also published Eirik Harris’s outstanding study of the Shenzi fragments — congratulations, Eirik!

Eirik Lang Harris, The Shenzi Fragments: A Philosophical Analysis and Translation (Columbia University Press, 2016)

Read on for details on the book, as well as a code that can be used for a 30% discount on the book.


The Shenzi Fragments is a complete translation and analysis of the extent work of Shen Dao (350–275 B.C.E.). Though his writings have been recounted and interpreted in many texts, particularly in the work of Xunzi and Han Fei, very few Western scholars have encountered the political philosopher’s original, influential formulations. This volume contains both a translation and analysis of the Shenzi fragments, explaining their distillation of the potent political theories circulating in China during the Warring States period, along with their seminal relationship to the Taoist and Legalist traditions and the philosophies of the Lüshi Chunqiu and the Huainanzi. These fragments outline a rudimentary theory of political order modeled on the natural world that recognizes the role of human self-interest in maintaining stable rule. Casting the natural world as an independent, amoral system, Shen Dao situates the source of moral judgment firmly within the human sphere, prompting political philosophy to develop in realistic directions. Harris’s sophisticated translation is paired with commentary that clarifies difficult passages and obscure references. For sections open to multiple interpretations, he offers resources for further research and encourages readers to follow their own path to meaning, much as Shen Dao intended in his work. This volume offers a chance for English-language readers to grasp the full significance of Shen Dao’s work among the pantheon of Chinese intellectuals.

Table of Contents:


Conventions and Abbreviations


Part I: A Philosophical Study of the Shenzi Fragments

Shen Dao’s Political Philosophy

Shen Dao in the Early Chinese Intellectual Milieu

Part II: A Translation of the Shenzi Fragments

Appendix: Conversion and Finding Chart




• Anyone who uses the promo code “SHENZI” to buy the book from this site will receive a 30% discount off the price of the book. 

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