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Li Zehou (b. 1930) has been an influential thinker in China since the 1950s. Before moving to the U.S. in the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Li published works on Kant and traditional and contemporary Chinese philosophy. The present volume, a translation of his Huaxia meixue (1989), is considered among Li’s most significant works. Apart from its value as an introduction to the philosophy of one of contemporary China’s foremost intellectuals, The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition fills an important gap in the literature of Chinese aesthetics in English. It presents Li’s synthesis of the entire trajectory of Chinese aesthetic thought, from ancient times to the early modern period, incorporating pre-Confucian and Confucian ideas, Daoism, Chan Buddhism, and the influence of Western philosophy during the late-imperial period. As one of China’s As one of China's major contemporary philosophers and preeminent authority on Kant, Li is uniquely positioned to observe this trajectory and make it intelligible to today’s readers.
The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition touches on all areas of artistic activity, including poetry, painting, calligraphy, architecture, and the "art of living." Right government, the ideal human being, and the path to spiritual transcendence all come under the provenance of aesthetic thought. According to Li this was the case from early Confucian explanations of poetry as that which gives expression to intent, through Zhuangzi’s artistic depictions of the ideal personality who discerns the natural way of things and lives according to it, to Chan Buddhist-inspired notions that nature and words can come together to yield insight and enlightenment. In this enduring and stimulating work, Li demonstrates conclusively the fundamental role of aesthetics in the development of the cultural and psychological structures in Chinese culture that define "humanity."
Studies in Honour of Derk Bodde
The main theme that pervades this Festschrift, written by fellow-scholars and students of Bodde for his seventy-fifth birthday, is that of the proper ordering of the universe as it obtains in the Chinese tradition.
A Route to Hermeneutics and Open Poetics
This ambitious work provides a systematic study of Chinese theories of reading and writing in intellectual thought and critical practice. The author maintains that there are two major hermeneutic traditions in Chinese literature: the politico-moralistic mainstream and the metaphysico-aesthetical undercurrent. In exploring the interaction between the two, Ming Dong Gu finds a movement toward interpretive openness. In this, the Chinese practice anticipates modern and Western theories of interpretation, especially literary openness and open poetics. Classic Chinese works are examined, including the Zhouyi (the I Ching or Book of Changes), the Shijing (the Book of Songs or Book of Poetry), and selected poetry, along with the philosophical background of the hermeneutic theories. Ultimately, Gu relates the Chinese practices of reading to Western hermeneutics, offering a cross-cultural conceptual model for the comparative study of reading and writing in general.
Compassion is a word we use frequently but rarely precisely. One reason we lack a philosophically precise understanding of compassion is that moral philosophers today give it virtually no attention. Indeed, in the predominant ethical traditions of the West (deontology, consequentialism, virtue ethics), compassion tends to be either passed over without remark or explicitly dismissed as irrelevant. And yet in the predominant ethical traditions of Asia, compassion is centrally important: All else revolves around it. This is clearly the case in Buddhist ethics, and compassion plays a similarly indispensable role in Confucian and Daoist ethics.
In Compassion and Moral Guidance, Steve Bein seeks to explain why compassion plays such a substantial role in the moral philosophies of East Asia and an insignificant one in those of Europe and the West. The book opens with detailed surveys of compassion’s position in the philosophical works of both traditions. The surveys culminate in an analysis of the conceptions of self and why the differences between these conceptions serve either to celebrate or marginalize the importance of compassion.
Bein moves on to develop a model for the ethics of compassion, including a chapter on applied ethics seen from the perspective of the ethics of compassion. The result is a new approach to ethics, one that addresses the Rawlsian and Kantian concern for fairness, the utilitarian concern for satisfactory consequences, and the concern in care ethics for the proper treatment of marginalized groups. Bein argues that compassion’s capacity to address all of these makes it a primary tool for ethical decision-making.
In this landmark work, noted comparative philosopher Roger T. Ames interprets how the classics of the Confucian canon portray the authentic, ethical human being. He argues that many distinguished commentators on Confucian ethics have explained the fundamental ideas and terms of this distinctively Chinese philosophy by superimposing Western concepts and categories, effectively collapsing this rich tradition into a subcategory of "virtue ethics." Beginning by addressing the problem of responsible cultural comparisons, Ames then formulates the interpretive context necessary to locate the texts within their own cultural ambiance. Exploring the relational notion of "person" that grounds Confucian philosophy, he pursues a nuanced understanding of the cluster of terms through which Confucian role ethics is expressed. Drawing on Western and Chinese sources, Ames provides a convincing argument that the only way to understand the Confucian vision of the consummate life is to take the tradition on its own terms.
A Case Study of The Story of the Stone
This volume first explores the transformation of Chinese Daoism in late imperial period through the writings of prominent intellectuals of the times. In such a cultural context, it then launches an in-depth investigation into the Daoist dimensions of the Chinese narrative masterpiece, The Story of the Stone—the inscriptions of Quanzhen Daoism in the infrastructure of its religious framework, the ideological ramifications of the Daoist concepts of chaos, purity, and the natural, as well as the Daoist images of the gourd, fish, and bird. Zhou presents the central position of Daoist philosophy both in the ideological structure of the Stone, and the literati culture that engenders it.
For the past eight hundred years, the study of Confucian doctrine has been largely dominated by the crucial works known as the “Four Books”: the Analects, the Mencius, the Daxue and the Zhongyong. In their original forms, the Daxue and Zhongyong were two of the more than forty chapters of the larger Li ji (Book of Rites), only gaining prominence thanks to the Song Neo-Confucian scholar Zhu Xi. In this groundbreaking text, Ian Johnston and Wang Ping have translated both of these versions of the Daxue and Zhongyong. One version as chapters of the Li Ji that contain the influential commentary and notes of Zheng Xuan and Kong Yingda, and the second after they were reorganized into standalone works and reinterpreted by Zhu Xi. Johnston and Wang also include extensive explanatory and supplemental materials to help contextualize and familiarize readers with these supremely influential works.
Chinese and Western Perspectives on Morality
This book closely examines texts from Chinese and Western traditions that hold up ethics as the inviolable ground of human existence, as well as those that regard ethics with suspicion. The negative notion of morality contends that because ethics cannot be divorced from questions of belonging and identity, there is a danger that it can be nudged into the domain of the unethical, since ethical virtues can become properties to be possessed with which the recognition of others is solicited. Ethics thus fosters the very egoism it hopes to transcend, and risks excluding the unfamiliar and the stranger. The author argues inspirationally that the unethical underbelly of ethics must be recognized in order to ensure that it remains vibrant.