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The Art of Chinese PhilosophyEight Classical Texts and How to Read Them$
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Paul Goldin

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691200798

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691200798.001.0001

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Introduction What are we Reading?

Introduction What are we Reading?

(p.1) Introduction What are we Reading?
The Art of Chinese Philosophy

Paul R. Goldin

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter argues that one of the first questions that readers must ask themselves, regardless of their hermeneutic framework, is what they are reading. In Chinese philosophy, the question is not often raised, in part because of the long-standing but specious assumption that the eight classic philosophical texts were written by the great masters whose names they bear. This approach is congruent with a cardinal tenet of traditional Chinese aesthetics: works of art and literature are produced by talented human beings as a way of channeling their responses to poignant events. It follows that a great work must have been composed by a great author—and since the texts are undeniably great, each one must have been produced by a magnificently talented human being. But far from denigrating Chinese philosophy, liberating it from these mythic suppositions only improves our understanding and appreciation of it.

Keywords:   Chinese philosophy, classic philosophical texts, traditional Chinese aesthetics, Chinese authors, classical Chinese texts, composite texts, Chinese philosophers

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