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An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy) Paperback – September 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0521608923 ISBN-10: 0521608929 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


'The writing is clear and articulate, and the discussion, while focusing on philosophical ideas, is sensitive to textual compexities such as the authorship of different layers of a text. The book should be a very useful textbook in any undergraduate course on Chinese philosophy.' Kwong-Loi Shun, Chinese University of Hong Kong

'A clear, fluent, well-argued and well-organized presentation of core ideas and main positions in Classical Chinese Philosophy, highly readable and quite stimulating for any student interested in Chinese humanities. It is to be specifically recommended for a solid introductory course in Chinese philosophy.' Chung-ying Cheng, Journal of Chinese Philosophy

Book Description

Introduces students to all of the concepts, themes and argumentative methods of early Chinese philosophy, covering the three most influential philosophical traditions, Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. Karyn Lai explains debates among different thinkers, cross-influences between traditions, and the interpretation of the main ideas by scholars up to the present day.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy
  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521608929
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521608923
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.8 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,364,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By DocCaligari on March 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a review of An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy by Karyn L. Lai.

Since Chinese philosophy has at least a 2,500 year history, it is not surprising (nor is it a weakness) that Lai's book does not cover all of it in its 307 pages. It focuses on pre-Qin philosophy (551-221 BCE, the period covering Confucius through Han Feizi), but also discusses the Yijing (I Ching), a work that only became philosophically influential during the Han dynasty (202 BCE - 220 CE), and concludes with some discussion of Chinese Buddhism. There are many things to commend about this book. Lai's writing style is direct and unpretentious, very suitable for the general reader and scholar alike. Furthermore, Lai includes a discussion of the School of Names and the Neo-Mohists, who are often ignored even though their paradoxical arguments are intriguing and well worth study.

But while there is impressively detailed coverage of some topics, others get more short shrift than they deserve. For example, Mencius had an immense influence on the later development of Chinese thought, particular in Neo-Confucianism. He has also been extensively discussed by contemporary philosophers. (There are two anthologies of secondary essays on him in English.) However, a mere five pages in the book are devoted exclusively to him (36-40), followed by a smattering of passing references.

In addition, some readers may be disappointed that the book is so reliant on other secondary sources. In the four and a half page discussion of Hua Yan Buddhism, Yu-lan Fung's A History of Chinese Philosophy is cited ten times. Other chapters frequently cite A.C. Graham's
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An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy)
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