Front Cover

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pp. 1-5

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface to the First Edition

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pp. vii-viii

What I mean by “Chinese aesthetics” in this volume is Confucian-based traditional Chinese aesthetics. Because of the length and depth of its sociohistorical foundations, and due to its rich development through the continual absorption and assimilation of various other...

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Translator’s Introduction

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pp. ix-xix

Contemporary Chinese philosopher Li Zehou (b. 1930) has been an influential thinker in China since the 1950s, but became a particularly important figure on the cultural scene during the “culture fever” of the 1980s. A member of the Institute of Philosophy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Li left China for the United States after his works were banned in China following the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989, as authorities...

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Chapter 1 The Rites and Music Tradition

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pp. 1-38

The word “beautiful” (mei) is always appealing to the ear and without exception elicits a pleasurable response in those to whom it is applied. This is equally true of young ladies praised for their beauty as of artists or authors who gladly accept such praise for their works—to say nothing of its use for beautiful landscapes, residences, clothing...

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Chapter 2 Confucian Humanism

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pp. 39-75

Confucius said of himself, “I transmit, I do not create” (Analects 7.1).1 This statement is partly true, for Confucius’ ambitions, actions, and achievements all were directed toward the preservation and restoration of the rituals of the Zhou, the same tradition of rites and music discussed in the previous chapter. Legend has it that Confucius preserved, popularized, and gave legitimacy to the ancient classics, rites, and traditional...

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Chapter 3 The Daoist-Confucian Synthesis

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pp. 76-116

In The Path of Beauty, I put forward the concept of the mutual complementarity of Confucianism and Daoism. After coming under some degree of criticism, it seems this idea has become widely accepted. Actually, numerous commentators have recognized this fact over the years. It is possible for Confucianism and Daoism to be mutually complementary...

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Chapter 4 Beauty in Deep Emotion

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pp. 117-159

Unlike the North China plain, the site of most of the philosophical debates of pre-Qin China, the ancient state of Chu in South China was an area in which shamanism continued unabated for quite some time. Primitive culture and practices in general persisted longer in this region. The north-south cultural divide in China has deep historical roots, on...

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Chapter 5 Metaphysical Pursuits

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pp. 160-193

The arrival of Buddhism in China was an event of tremendous significance for the history of Chinese culture. How to receive the new religion became a crucial ideological question that would occupy the Confucian-centered Chinese cultural tradition for hundreds of years and evoke a brilliant array of responses. In every field, from literature and art to faith and philosophy, the question arose as to whether to reject or assimilate, convert...

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Chapter 6 Toward Modernity

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pp. 194-222

After a peak, a decline always begins. The decline will end either in a gradual disappearance or in change. This was the case for traditional Confucianism and also for the literary and aesthetic tradition that developed under the tutelage of Confucian thought. By “decline” here I refer to the fact that, having attained a summit of sorts in the work of Zhu Xi, Wang Yangming (1472–1529), and other Song and Ming thinkers, Confucian philosophy never again experienced the same level of development and innovation. Corresponding...

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Epilogue

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pp. 223-224

Confucius said, “One who warms up the old in order to know the new can be a teacher” (Analects 2.11). The purpose of looking back is in order, through history, to discover oneself, grasp the present, and determine the future. It is the means of understanding one’s current situation and of looking ahead to one’s prospects for the future. All of...

Notes

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pp. 225-248

Index

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pp. 249-257