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Kongzi (Confucius). Analects (Selections)
2005, In: Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (Second Edition). Edited by Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden. Hackett.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Summary: Selections from the Analects of Kongzi (Confucius), a foundational text in Chinese philosophy. It is split into twenty books recounting things that the Master (Kongzi) and his disciples said and did. Much of the rest of Chinese philosophy owes a debt, more or less explicit, to this work. Kongzi seeks the cultivation of virtue through ritual, so that worthy persons will occupy positions of power and influence. Society will thereby return to some of the splendor of the bygone ages of the legendary Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, as well as the more recent Xia, Shang, and Western Zhou dynasties.

Comment: The selections are best read in their entirety, as the work is holistic and difficult to interpret piecemeal. (So reading the whole text is better still!) It's helpful to stress Kongzi's particularism, as this makes sense of seemingly contradictory pronouncements he makes in different contexts. But if you're looking to incorporate some Classical Chinese philosophy in a course without space for the whole thing, the selections from Book One include many key Confucian themes: ritual, the ideal of a junzi or gentleman, virtue, filial piety, and the appeal to tradition. Either way, it's probably wise to give students some historical context to help understand the appeal of harking back to older traditions.

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Li, Chenyang. The Confucian Philosophy of Harmony
2014, Routledge Studies in Asian Religion and Philosophy
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, Contributed by: Quentin Pharr
Publisher’s Note: Harmony is a concept essential to Confucianism and to the way of life of past and present people in East Asia. Integrating methods of textual exegesis, historical investigation, comparative analysis, and philosophical argumentation, this book presents a comprehensive treatment of the Confucian philosophy of harmony. The book traces the roots of the concept to antiquity, examines its subsequent development, and explicates its theoretical and practical significance for the contemporary world. It argues that, contrary to a common view in the West, Confucian harmony is not mere agreement but has to be achieved and maintained with creative tension. Under the influence of a Weberian reading of Confucianism as "adjustment" to a world with an underlying fixed cosmic order, Confucian harmony has been systematically misinterpreted in the West as presupposing an invariable grand scheme of things that pre-exists in the world to which humanity has to conform. The book shows that Confucian harmony is a dynamic, generative process, which seeks to balance and reconcile differences and conflicts through creativity. Illuminating one of the most important concepts in Chinese philosophy and intellectual history, this book is of interest to students of Chinese studies, history and philosophy in general and eastern philosophy in particular.

Comment: This text is the single best introduction and overview of the Confucian conception of harmony (hē), and how it compares with ancient Roman and Greek conceptions of the same. This text is best read with some familiarity of various Confucian texts and commentators. But, the author is quite generous to readers in explaining the background of whatever is under discussion. In general, this text is probably best as a further reading for students who are also reading Confucian texts, but it also stands up as an introductory and specialized overview of its subject matter as well.

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Olberding, Amy. Confucius’ Complaints and the Analects’ Account of the Good Life
2013, Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (4):417-440.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Ian James Kidd
Abstract: The Analects appears to offer two bodies of testimony regarding the felt, experiential qualities of leading a life of virtue. In its ostensible record of Confucius' more abstract and reflective claims, the text appears to suggest that virtue has considerable power to afford joy and insulate from sorrow. In the text's inclusion of Confucius' less studied and apparently more spontaneous remarks, however, he appears sometimes to complain of the life he leads, to feel its sorrows, and to possess some despair. Where we attend to both of these elements of the text, a tension emerges. In this essay, I consider how Confucius' complaints appear to complicate any clean conclusion that Confucius wins a good life, particularly where we attend to important pre-theoretical sensibilities regarding what a 'good life' ought to include and how it ought to feel for the one who leads it.

Comment: A rich text that explains the role of complaints - and, more broadly, disappointment, regret, and sadness - in the moral life. Especially good for challenging the idea that the moral life will insulate a person from such negative affects. Also points out the tendency of some moral philosophers to downplay certain aspects of human beings when constructing their ideals.

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Shun, Kwong-Loi. Methodological Reflections on the Study of Chinese Thought
2009, in Tan, S-h. (ed.) The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Chinese Philosophy Methodologies. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 57–74.
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Added by: Lea Cantor
Abstract:

Methodology has to do with systematic reflections on the methods adopted in a certain kind of activity, including that of intellectual inquiry. But we cannot talk intelligibly about the method of a certain kind of activity without knowing more about the nature of the activity as well as the goals and interests behind it. For example, we cannot talk intelligibly about the method of writing without knowing what it is that we write and for what purpose and audience, nor about the method of building a house without knowing what kind of house and for what purpose. This is no less true of intellectual inquiry, and in our case, the study of Chinese thought. We cannot talk intelligibly about the method of studying Chinese thought without knowing more about the goals and interests behind such study.

Comment: This chapter offers useful insights into the methodology involved in engaging constructively with the history of philosophy, focusing on the specific challenges that arise in the study of Chinese texts. What is involved in textual analysis and philosophical exegesis? How do concerns about present-day relevance guide philosophical analysis and construction? How far is close reading of texts a precondition for productive engagement with Chinese philosophy? What are the specific challenges that arise in comparative studies involving Chinese texts and thinkers? Shun explores these questions in a nuanced and accessible way. No prior knowledge of Chinese philosophy is required to engage with the paper's main points.

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Shun, Kwong-loi. Studying Confucian and Comparative Ethics: Methodological Reflections
2009, Journal of Chinese Philosophy 36(3), pp. 455–478
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Added by: Lea Cantor
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This article reflects on the challenges that arise in the study and practice of comparative philosophy, focusing on the case of 'Western'-Chinese comparative work in ethics. The paper more specifically highlights an 'asymmetry' worry in relation to much existing comparative engagement with Chinese ethics, whereby the frameworks of 'Western Philosophy' are taken as the unquestioned reference point by which to analyse (unilaterally) Chinese ethics.

Comment: The paper will be easy to follow for those with a basic understanding of Chinese philosophy (especially (neo-)Confucian ethics) and some understanding of contemporary debates in normative ethics and moral philosophy. It could easily be integrated into courses on normative ethics and moral philosophy, Chinese philosophy, and/or comparative philosophy.

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Wee, Cecilia. Xin, Trust, and Confucius’ Ethics
2011, Philosophy East and West, 61 (3): 516-533.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Ian James Kidd
Abstract: Confucius frequently employs the term xin 信 in the Analects. The frequency of his usage suggests that xin has a significant place within his ethics. The main aim of this article is to offer an account of the roles played by xin within Confucius' ethics. To have a clear understanding of these roles, however, one needs first to understand what Confucius encompasses within his notion of xin. The article begins by delineating the Confucian conception of xin, as presented in the Analects. The notion of xin is often taken to be isomorphic with the notion of trust. I argue that Confucius' notion of xin does not quite map onto the notion of trust as usually understood in contemporary Western contexts. To understand better what Confucian xin amounts to, I compare and contrast the Confucian conception of xin with contemporary Western accounts of trust by Baier, McLeod, and Mullin. This comparison helps elucidate what xin is as well as how xin relates to morality. With this in hand, the roles that Confucius ascribes to xin in social and political contexts are then delineated.

Comment: Clear discussion of Confucian conceptions of trustworthiness and trust and their roles in the moral life. Useful for those who want to do comparative work with Chinese philosophy.

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