Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy


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Zhang Dainian; Translated by Edmund Ryden

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This book is both a good introduction to Chinese philosophy and an invaluable reference tool for sinologists. Comments by important Chinese thinkers are arranged around sixty-four key concepts to illustrate their meaning and use through twenty-five centuries of Chinese philosophy. This unique guide was prepared by Zhang Dainian, one of China’s most famous living philosophers.

Zhang reaches back to include concepts in use before the oracle bones (c. 1350–1100 B.C.)—what could be called a philosophical “prehistory.” But the focus of the work is those concepts that gained currency in classical Chinese philosophy, especially those whose meanings are deeper and more difficult to grasp. Translated and edited by Edmund Ryden in consultation with the author, the book also includes helpful introductory commentary by Ryden for each section.

Zhang Dainian is professor emeritus of philosophy at Beijing University. Edmund Ryden is director of the Cross Cultural Centre, Fujen Catholic University, Taiwan.

The Culture & Civilization of China series (

“This book is a valuable contribution to our understanding of Chinese philosophy by an important scholar of philosophy in China.”—Carine Defoort, University of Leuven, Belgium

“The merits of this book are remarkable. Zhang is a master of historical materials in ancient Chinese philosophy. . . . This book will serve as an ideal guide to those who find themselves lost among Chinese philosophical texts. . . . Ryden’s translation and editorship deserve special admiration. Most changes in the translated edition are not only justifiable but also mark a distinction in his scholarship that has produced, I dare to say, a work of higher academic quality than the original. To those who are interested in Chinese philosophy and even those who have an acquaintance with the original, I recommend this excellent edition.”—Lian Cheng, Journal of Asian Studies

"Zhang's book should be on the top of the list for anyone looking for a deep analysis of the trends in Chinese philosophy."—Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy
ISBN: 9780300199789
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
592 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

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