WWXD: What would Xunzi do?

What does Xunzi have to say about rituals and social justice?

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This post will be a follow up to my previous post (see Investigating the Relationship between Ritual Propriety and Social Justice in the Early Confucian Tradition), where I will explore the relationship between li (ritual/ritual propriety) and social justice as found in the works of Xunzi, another pre-Qin Confucian philosopher. WWXD: What would Xunzi do? Or rather, WWXS: What would …


Investigating the Relationship between Ritual Propriety and Social Justice in the Early Confucian Tradition

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Here is a draft proposal for a paper I wish to write. In the book, Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times, Joseph Chan argues that there are three principles of a Confucian perspective on social justice. The three principles are: (1) sufficiency for all, where “each household should have an amount of resources sufficient to live a materially …

A scanned page of the Book of Rites

The Lofty Vision of Ritual Propriety in The Book of Rites (禮記 Liji), “Summary of the Rules of Propriety (曲禮 Qu Li), Part 1”

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[This is an exploratory post as part of my research] In this exploratory post, I will focus on the lofty ideals of rituals and its claims of bringing about a harmonious society as expounded in the first chapter of The Book of Rites (禮記 Liji). In approaching the ancient texts, it is important to bear in mind that many of …

In the Forbidden City in China, there are two words written on top of the Qing Emperor's royal seat: wuwei.

(Original image taken from: https://strikethroughblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/dont-do-itjust-do-it/ )

Comparing the Bureaucratic Art of Non-Action and the Classical Chinese Concept of Wuwei (無為)

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In this post, I would like to explore the bureaucratic art of non-action with the classical Chinese concept of 無為 wuwei (often translated as non-action). As this is an informal, yet exploratory post, I will write this in a light-hearted and enjoyable manner. The Art of Bureaucratic Non-Action Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a leading neuro-scientist from …


Some Thoughts on the Classical Chinese Concept of “Wuwei” (Non-Action) and the Concept of Emergent Self-Order in Complexity Science

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The other day, I had a conversation with Andrew Sheng, a Distinguished Fellow of the Fung Global Institute, and Chief Adviser of the China Banking Regulatory Commission. Though he’s trained primarily as an economist, he is well-versed in Chinese philosophy and has a profound understanding and insight of it, complemented also with his knowledge of complexity science. During our conversation, …

Waking Up After September Ended

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“Wake me up when September ends…” Well, ok, it’s October now. Gosh… I actually can’t believe I haven’t been blogging for slightly more than two months. It felt like eternity. I’ve been so ridiculously crazy over the past two months. Somehow, when the semester began, I found myself flooded with a never-ending stream of activity. It was exhausting and stressful, …

Camera 360

The History and Idea behind Chinese Paper Offerings and the Variety of Paper Goodies!

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The Chinese festival of Qing Ming (清明節 Qingming Jie) just passed a few days ago. This is the time of the year where Chinese would pay respects to their dearly departed relatives and ancestors by visiting and cleaning up their tombs, and to offer both paper offerings and food. Historically, the ancient Chinese (around the time of Confucius and before) …

Harmony in the Mencius (孟子)

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As a continuation of my informal discussion on harmony in the various pre-Qin thinkers, I will touch on the Mencius today. The Mencius stands out as an anomaly amongst all the other pre-Qin texts because harmony, 和 he, appears only twice! Unfortunately, the first passage (Mencius 2B1) doesn’t tell us very much. So we’re only left with one passage that’s useful: 孟子曰:「伯夷,目不視惡色,耳不聽惡聲。非其君不事,非其民不使。治則進,亂則退。橫政之所出,橫民之所止,不忍居也。思與鄉人處,如以朝衣朝冠坐於塗炭也。當紂之時,居北海之濱,以待天下之清也。故聞伯夷之風者,頑夫廉,懦夫有立志。 …

Harmony in the Early Mohist Chapters of the Mozi (墨子)

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Mozi is a rather unknown Chinese philosopher in the ancient Zhou dynasty period. But he was considered one of the first philosophers who challenged Confucius. The Early Mohist Chapters of the Mozi were probably written by him or by his disciples. The primary word for articulating harmony, 和 he, appears in 18 passages within the Early Mohist Chapters. As there …

Harmony in the Analects

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The word, 和 he, which is the primary word used to articulate harmony appears in the Analects five times. No other similar word for harmony is used in the text. The five passages are: (A) 有子曰:「禮之用,和為貴。先王之道斯為美,小大由之。有所不行,知和而和,不以禮節 之,亦不可行也。」 Yu Tzu said, “Of the things brought about by the rites, harmony is the most valuable. Of the ways of the Former Kings, …

Musical Harmony and its Historical Context in Ancient China

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Music in ancient pre-Qin China is radically different from the music that we are familiar with today. Music, in ancient China, held both a moral and political dimension. The ancient Chinese believed that the type of music a person produces is a reflection of his own morality (and psychology). A chaotic person produces chaotic music, while a person of order …

Honours Thesis on Notions of Harmony in Classical Chinese Thought

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I’ve decided I’ll start a new category on my blog to talk about my Honours thesis. Ever since I’ve been hospitalised, I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate and write philosophical essays. However, I don’t seem to have this problem when it comes to blogging. I’m guessing blogging about my thesis might help me out a bit. As an …


Cat Toys!

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Today, I was out searching for a tea whisk. I’m trying to master the art of making tea in the Song Dynasty Style (which is also the same way tea is made in the Japanese Tea Ceremony). But instead of getting one, I ended up buying stuff for my beloved cat. I was reading on the Internet that toys are …

Powered by the the Tao (道)

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Not too long ago, I got a new laptop because I finally destroyed my previous one from excessive and overly forceful typing. So, I took the opportunity to have it replaced with a MacBook Air. Considering the number of books I carry with me for research, I figured it’s better to get the thinnest and lightest laptop possible. But I …

Destiny (命)

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命 (ming) is often translated as fate, destiny, decree (Heaven’s Decree 天命), or even Divine Providence. But regardless of how this word is translated, and regardless of whether we really believe in fate/destiny/Providence, there is an important lesson that we can learn from 命 (ming). There are many things in life that are beyond our control, and these things play …

The Confucian Fangirl!

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Yesterday, someone remarked that he knows of a Confucian Fangirl. Was inspired to draw this today after spending the whole day studying Confucian texts. Wanted to give her a pony tail, but I can’t seem to get draw it right. The Chinese words in calligraphy style were painfully traced using the digital tablet. Not easy, but it’s amazing what a …


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Had Mid-term exams for Chinese Philosophy today. In the past two days, I have been making mindmaps! I love making mindmaps. It’s the perfect opportunity to be artistic. Made it a point to do both Western and Chinese calligraphy on my mindmaps!

Analects 13.3

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君子於其所不知,蓋闕如也。 Confucius (孔子), The Analects (論語), 13.3 Translation (Chad Hansen): With regard to what he does not know, the superior man (the Gentleman) should maintain an attitude of reserve. The worst thing that we can do to any person, organisation, or theory, is to speak about it with confidence when we ourselves are unsure about it, or have never verified …