Debates About and Within Early China
General Catalog Course Title:
This course takes as its two main subjects debates about the formative period of Chinese history in the current second literature, as well as the major debates that took place in early China itself. Current debates include the following: What are the origins of Chinese culture, and how far back can we speak of the past? Is Chinese history in the early period mainly continuous or mainly discontinuous? What is the nature of Chinese language? How does it affect a society not to have a state religion or a set of organized religious practices aiming at individual salvation? How does sedentary agriculture help or hurt the environment? What is Confucian or Ru 儒 thinking? And is there anything within Chinese culture itself that precluded the rise of capitalism or the development of science? What was the role of women in early China?
Armed with an understanding of the secondary literature, the second half of the course will examine the favorite topics for debate and discussion in early China, as found in primary texts translated into English. These topics include, How should a state be run? What is ordinary human nature like? What is pleasure and how is one to achieve maximum lasting pleasure in life? Is there an afterlife, and if so, how should one prepare for it? What good is money and does moneymaking plan a positive or a negative role in human society? What is the proper role of women?