New Book: Ritual & Religion in the Xunzi

Kline and Tiwald_9781438451954.indd   Not without shame, I’d like to mention (and thereby promote) a book that I co-edited with Jack Kline, Ritual & Religion in the Xunzi, devoted to interpretations of Xunzi as a religious philosopher. I’ll include a brief description below the fold.


Xunzi, a founding figure in the Confucian tradition, is one of the world’s great philosophers and theorists of religion. For much of the last century, his work has been seen largely as critical of religion, particularly the popular beliefs and invocations of supernatural forces that underpin so many religious rituals. Contributors to this volume challenge this view and offer a more sophisticated picture of Xunzi. He emerges not as critic, but rather as an adherent of religion who seeks to give religious practices meaning even though many religious beliefs are mistaken or self-serving. Each essay offers a powerful illustration of Xunzi as both a religious devotee and as a philosopher of religion, drawing on a wide array of disciplines and methodologies.

I should add that this book is much more Jack’s than mine, reflecting his rare virtues as a scholar and editor. The chapters aren’t just unified by theme but also by argument: the contributors offer and defend interpretations that lead to a set of closely related conclusions about Xunzi as a theorist of religion and ritual. Also like much of Jack’s work, it draws on a wide variety of disciplines.

5 replies on “New Book: Ritual & Religion in the Xunzi”

  1. A quick aside: although few are aware of it, Xunzi played a part in the formation of modern functionalism, through none other than A.R. Radcliffe-Brown. We reconstruct some of that history in our introduction.

    Just a little bit of academic history to fuel the pride of Xunzi’s many admirers (not that there isn’t plenty of fuel already).

  2. A lot of stuff coming out about Xunzi recently. Perhaps that’s why there’s a new translation about to be published.

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