Classical Chinese Philosophy: Lunyu

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The Lunyu or the Analects is a text in Chinese classical philosophy containing select sayings of Confucius (孔子) — a classical sage who had described himself as a transmitter of human and civilizational values in Ancient China, and still to this day a living intellectual tradition in the core of Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures. The text was compiled during the Warring states period (660 BC – 220 BC) and completed during the mid-Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) by Confucius’ followers. It was widely known for instance in the 18th century West for its ideas on humanity — ideas that formed the basis and sources for philosopher G.W. Leibniz. The challenge in reading the Lunyu today however is in understanding the text not through our inherited 19th century bias in treating the modern West as the key model for civilizational development but theLunyu itself as a viable intellectual resource for thinking about major global health and ecological problems. In this entry, I will summarize a few key concepts in Confucian philosophy that I hope will help me further this broader task, beginning first with its two basic philosophical assumptions about the human person, and then its concepts of DaoLi and Ren. Click here for the entry.

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