This is an introduction to the major philosophical texts and traditions of China, spanning the period from c. 6th century B.C. to 1200 C.E. It begins with a foundational discussion of the particular problems and questions that Chinese philosophy has been concerned with, as well as the historical predicaments that shaped the course of its development. The first half of the course covers the major early philosophical texts that came to form the mainstream Chinese intellectual tradition – writings associated with Confucius and his disciples, the early critics of the Confucian tradition, and philosophical Daoism. In the second half we examine developments in medieval thought: religious Daoism, the “Learning of the Mystery,” Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism.

Topics covered include: conceptions of virtue and the virtuous life; diverse accounts of the means and ends of self-cultivation; notions of self and personhood; the ethical role of emotions; moral psychology and moral agency; rulership and statecraft.