The History Book Club discussion


Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
This is a thread devoted to the history and all discussions related to Confucianism. The following is a great video series from The Wisdom of Faith Series with Bill Moyers and Huston Smith. I personally learned a lot by watching it.

The Wisdom of Faith with Huston Smith and Bill Moyers: BIll Moyers and Confucianism

Huston Smith: Born in China of missionary parents, Smith learned about Chinese language, culture, and religion while growing up near Shanghai. Smith explains how the intertwining of opposites is key to understanding the great religions of ChinaConfucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Smith shows that Eastern religions provide an emphasis on direct experience and a method for attaining that. He introduces yoga, which he has been practicing for 50 years, as one such method.

He wrote:

The World's Religions Our Great Wisdom Traditions by Huston Smith Huston Smith Huston Smith

Part I of 6 (in my situation one part led to another) - really fascinating topic and man - listening to this for the first time and will add the parts as I complete them myself.

Part II of 6

Part III of 6

Part IV of 6

Part V of 6

Prt VI of 6

message 2: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Confucius: A Throneless King

Confucius A Throneless King by Meher McArthur by Meher McArthur


Confucius is one of the most important figures in Chinese history,
whose philosophies have shaped world culture. Often overlooked
outside his native country, Confucius himself was a fascinating
figure. A contemporary of Buddha, Confucius was outspoken
and uncompromising man who revolutionized Chinese society
nearly 2,500 years ago, when the country was merely a loose
web of feudal provinces. No small feat for the illegitimate son of
a retired soldier and a teenage concubine, who once received a
prophecy from the local fortune-teller that she would give birth to
a “throneless king.”

Perhaps because of these humble beginnings, Confucius had a
passionate belief in respect for others and this belief underpinned
his life and teachings. He advised the emperors and kings of his
day, gaining their respect and undying enmity along the way. he
was equally proud of both achievements, saying that if the evil
people of the world liked him, he was doing something wrong.
Confucius established many ideas that are taken for granted today, from respecting one‘s parents to the Golden Rule, to virtue
being its own reward. his theories became the foundation of one
of the world‘s first civil services and established social structures
throughout Asia that still exist today.

message 3: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom Confucius was also a contemporary of Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching, at least according to some (some people think Confucius was earlier).

There is a story that the two great scholars met and Confucius later said

Birds can fly but will fall at the hunter’s arrow. Fish can swim but will be hooked by the fisherman. Beasts can run but will drop into people’s nets and traps. There is only one thing that is out of man’s reach. That’s the legendary dragon. A dragon can fly into the sky, ride on clouds, dive into the ocean. A dragon is powerful yet so intangible to us. Lao Tzu is a dragon, and I’ll never understand him.”

There are many translations and editions of the Tao Te Ching, a few of which I have read. Here is one of my favorites:

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu Lao Tzu Lao Tzu

For more on the story related above, see

message 4: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Thanks, Peter. Good addition.

message 5: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) A primer for those who wish to learn all aspects of this gentle belief system.

An Introduction to Confucianism

An Introduction to Confucianism by Xinzhong Yao by Xinzhong Yao (no photo)


Taking into account the long history and wide range of Confucian Studies, this book introduces Confucianism - initiated in China by Confucius (551 BC 479 BC) - primarily as a philosophical and religious tradition. It pays attention to Confucianism in both the West and the East, focussing on the tradition's doctrines, schools, rituals, sacred places and terminology, but also stressing the adaptations, transformations and new thinking taking place in modern times. Xinzhong Yao presents Confucianism as a tradition with many dimensions and as an ancient tradition with contemporary appeal. This gives the reader a richer and clearer view of how Confucianism functioned in the past and of what it means in the present. A Chinese scholar based in the West, he draws together the many strands of Confucianism in a style accessible to students, teachers, and general readers interested in one of the world's major religious traditions.

message 6: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4310 comments Mod
An upcoming book:
Release date: March 3, 2015

Confucius: And the World He Created

Confucius And the World He Created by Michael Schuman by Michael Schuman (no photo)


Confucius is the most influential Chinese thinker in history; his teachings continue to shape the habits and beliefs of well over 1.6 billion people. As Michael Schuman explains, it is impossible to understand modern Asia without first engaging with the philosopher’s vast legacy.

Little is known about Confucius’ life, but his core principles have survived to this day. He promoted filial piety, learnedness, and responsible government. He also promoted hierarchy, in families, business, and the public sphere. Today, this has resulted in strong family networks and education, but also autocratic government and inequality for women.

Schuman reveals that although the arrival of Communism, capitalism, and democracy have not toppled Confucius from his central place in Asian culture, they have forced his followers to adapt his legacy to the modern world. Covering the past, present, and future of Confucius’s impact, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand modern Asia.

message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 23, 2018 07:47PM) (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Engaging Japanese Philosophy: A Short History (Nanzan Library of Asian Religion and Culture)

(no image) Engaging Japanese Philosophy: A Short History by Thomas P Kasulis (no photo)


Philosophy challenges our assumptions―especially when it comes to us from another culture. In exploring Japanese philosophy, a dependable guide is essential. The present volume, written by a renowned authority on the subject, offers readers a historical survey of Japanese thought that is both comprehensive and comprehensible.

Adhering to the Japanese philosophical tradition of highlighting engagement over detachment, Thomas Kasulis invites us to think with, as well as about, the Japanese masters by offering ample examples, innovative analogies, thought experiments, and jargon-free explanations. He assumes little previous knowledge and addresses themes―aesthetics, ethics, the samurai code, politics, among others―not in a vacuum but within the conditions of Japan’s cultural and intellectual history. For readers new to Japanese studies, he provides a simplified guide to pronouncing Japanese and a separate discussion of the language and how its syntax, orthography, and linguistic layers can serve the philosophical purposes of a skilled writer and subtle thinker. For those familiar with the Japanese cultural tradition but less so with philosophy, Kasulis clarifies philosophical expressions and problems, Western as well as Japanese, as they arise.

Half of the book’s chapters are devoted to seven major thinkers who collectively represent the full range of Japan’s historical epochs and philosophical traditions: Kūkai, Shinran, Dōgen, Ogyū Sorai, Motoori Norinaga, Nishida Kitarō, and Watsuji Tetsurō. Nuanced details and analyses enable an engaged understanding of Japanese Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintō, and modern academic philosophy. Other chapters supply social and cultural background, including brief discussions of nearly a hundred other philosophical writers. (For additional information, cross references to material in the companion volume Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook are included.) In his closing chapter Kasulis reflects on lessons from Japanese philosophy that enhance our understanding of philosophy itself. He reminds us that philosophy in its original sense means loving wisdom, not studying ideas. In that regard, a renewed appreciation of engaged knowing can play a critical role in the revitalization of philosophy in the West as well as the East.

message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
The Analects

The Analects by Confucius by Confucius Confucius


This lively new translation with clear explanatory notes by one of the foremost scholars of classical Chinese provides the ideal introduction to the Analects for readers who have no previous knowledge of the Chinese language and philosophical traditions.

"How dare I claim to be a sage or a benevolent man?"

By constructing the philosophy expressed through The Analects, Confucius might well dare to make such a claim. The Analects are a collection of Confucius' sayings, compiled by his pupils shortly after his death in 497 B.C., and they reflect the extent to which Confucius held up a moral ideal for all men. The aim is the perfection of one's moral character, the method one of arduous pursuit of such moral attributes as benevolence, wisdom, courage; the result is no recompense either in this life or the next – to follow the Way must be its own reward. A harsh philosophy perhaps, but shining through it is the splendid intellect and spirit of one of the most reasonable and humane thinkers of all time.

message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Hackett Classics)

Mengzi With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Hackett Classics) by Mencius by Mencius Mencius


Bryan Van Norden's new translation of the Mengzi (Mencius) is accurate, philosophically nuanced, and fluent.

Accompanied by selected passages from the classic commentary of Zhu Xi--one of the most influential and insightful interpreters of Confucianism--this edition provides readers with a parallel to the Chinese practice of reading a classic text alongside traditional commentaries.

Also included are an Introduction that situates Mengzi and Zhu Xi in their intellectual and social contexts; a glossary of names, places and important terms; a selected bibliography; and an index.

"Mencius lived about one century after Confucius but it was not until the Song dynasty, some 1000 years later, that Mencius’s interpretation of Confucius became the most influential one. Mencius believed that we are born good. He had a fairly optimistic view of human nature as well as the view that the government should rely upon informal means of social control rather than harsh punishment as a way of securing social order and harmony."-- Daniel Bell, professor of philosophy at Tsinghua University in Beijing on Five Books

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Xunzi: The Complete Text

Xunzi The Complete Text by Xun Kuang by Xun Kuang (no photo)


This is the first complete, one-volume English translation of the ancient Chinese text Xunzi, one of the most extensive, sophisticated, and elegant works in the tradition of Confucian thought. Through essays, poetry, dialogues, and anecdotes, the Xunzi articulates a Confucian perspective on ethics, politics, warfare, language, psychology, human nature, ritual, and music, among other topics. Aimed at general readers and students of Chinese thought, Eric Hutton's translation makes the full text of this important work more accessible in English than ever before.

Named for its purported author, the Xunzi (literally, "Master Xun") has long been neglected compared to works such as the Analects of Confucius and the Mencius. Yet interest in the Xunzi has grown in recent decades, and the text presents a much more systematic vision of the Confucian ideal than the fragmented sayings of Confucius and Mencius. In one famous, explicit contrast to them, the Xunzi argues that human nature is bad. However, it also allows that people can become good through rituals and institutions established by earlier sages. Indeed, the main purpose of the Xunzi is to urge people to become as good as possible, both for their own sakes and for the sake of peace and order in the world.

In this edition, key terms are consistently translated to aid understanding and line numbers are provided for easy reference. Other features include a concise introduction, a timeline of early Chinese history, a list of important names and terms, cross-references, brief explanatory notes, a bibliography, and an index.

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 23, 2019 10:37PM) (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
The Li Chi or Book of Rites, Part II of II (Forgotten Books)

The Li Chi or Book of Rites, Part II of II (Forgotten Books) by Confucius by Confucius Confucius


"The Li Ki is one of the 'Five Chinese Classics'.

This title is usually translated the Book of Rites. The work is a compilation of assorted texts which describe Chinese religious practices from the eighth to the fifth century B.C. It was first written down about 200 B.C.

This work is of interest because of the minute description of Chinese culture from this period, including funerary rites, clothing, cosmological theories, astronomy, economy, geography, history, family structure, the Imperial court, music, crime and punishment, horticulture, and even some exotic recipes.

This is the Second volume of the Li Ki." (Quote from

Table of Contents:

Publisher's Preface; YÜ ZÂo Or The Jade-bead Pendants Of The Royal Cap; Ming Thang Wei Or The Places In The Hall Of Distinction; Sang FÛ HsiÂo KÎ Or Record Of Smaller Matters In The Dress Of Mourning; TÂ Kwan Or The Great Treatise; ShÂo Î Or Smaller Rules Of Demeanour; Hsio KÎ Or Record On The Subject Of Education; Yo KÎ Or Record Of Music; ZÂ KÎ Or Miscellaneous Records; Sang TÂ KÎ Or The Greater Record Of Mourning Rites; KÎ FÂ Or The Law Of Sacrifices; KÎ Î Or The Meaning Of Sacrifices; KÎ Thung Or A Summary Account Of Sacrifices; King Kieh Or The Different Teaching Of The Different Kings; Âi Kung Wan Or Questions Of Duke Âi; Kung-nÎ Yen KÜ Or Kung-nÎ At Home At Ease; Khung-dze Hsien Ku Or Confucius At Home At Leisure; Fang KÎ Or Record Of The Dykes; Kung Yung Or The State Of Equilibrium And Harmony; PiÂo KÎ Or The Record On Example; Sze Î Or The Black Robes; Pan Sang Or Rules On Hurrying To Mourning Rites; Wan Sang Or Questions About Mourning Rites; FÛ Wan Or Subjects For Questioning About The Mourning Dress; Kien Kwan Or Treatise On Subsidiary Points In Mourning Usages; San Nien Wan Or Questions About The Mourning For Three Years; Shan Î Or The Long Dress In One Piece; ThÂu HÛ Or The Game Of Pitch-pot; ZÛ Hsing Or The Conduct Of The Scholar; TÂ Hsio Or The Great Learning; Kwan Î Or The Meaning Of The Ceremony Of Capping; Hwan Î Or The Meaning Of The Marriage Ceremony; Hsiang Yin KiÛ Î Or The Meaning Of The Drinking Festivity In The Districts; ShÊ Î Or The Meaning Of The Ceremony Of Archery; Yen Î Or The Meaning Of The Banquet; Phing Î Or The Meaning Of The Interchange Of Missions Between Different Courts; Sang FÛ Sze Kih Or The Four Principles Underlying The Dress Of Mourning; Endnotes


"The Records of Music is not as influential historically as some of the other texts, but I think it’s very interesting. It illustrates how music is key for producing a sense of harmony.

If the ruler pays attention to the uses of music in securing social order, co-operation and harmony, it is ultimately much more effective than using the law, than using punishment to control people.

Rulers, throughout Chinese history, did pay attention to the function of music in securing harmony. Sometimes they would even send out emissaries to find out what music people were listening to. It’s the equivalent to modern day polling.

If people are listening to harmonious music you can tell things are roughly OK. But if music, to use a modern example, like Punk music is widespread in society then you know that something is wrong.

People wonder today, why do East Asians, whether it’s Koreans or Japanese or Chinese, societies with a Confucian heritage, why do they love Karaoke so much, and why do they like singing whenever there is any sort of opportunity? I think some of the earlier roots of those ideas can be traced to those texts, and how they had some sort of political usage throughout Chinese history." -- Daniel A. Bell, professor of philosophy at Tsinghua University in Beijing interviewed by Five Books

message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Thinking Through Confucius (SUNY Series in Systematic Philosophy)

Thinking Through Confucius by David L. Hall by David L. Hall (no photo)


Thinking through Confucius critically interprets the conceptual structure underlying Confucius' philosophical reflections. It also investigates "thinking," or "philosophy" from the perspective of Confucius.

Perhaps the philosophical question of our time is "what is philosophy".

The authors suggest that an examination of the Chinese philosophy may provide an alternative definition of philosophy that can be used to address some of the pressing issues of the Western cultural tradition.

This book finds an appropriate language for the interpretation of traditional Chinese philosophical thought -- a language which is relatively free from the bias and presuppositions of Western philosophy.

back to top