Early China/Ancient Greece

Thinking through Comparisons

Edited by Steven Shankman & Stephen W. Durrant

Subjects: Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9780791453148, 313 pages, May 2002
Hardcover : 9780791453131, 313 pages, February 2002

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Table of contents

Steven Shankman and Stephen W. Durrant

1. What Has Athens to Do with Alexandria? or Why Sinologists Can't Get Along with(out) Philosophers
David L. Hall

2. No Time Like the Present: The Category of Contemporaneity in Chinese Studies
Haun Saussy

3. Humans and Gods: The Theme of Self-Divinization in Early China and Early Greece
Michael Puett

4. "These Three Come Forth Together, But are Differently Named": Laozi, Zhuangzi, Plato
Steven Shankman

5. Thinking through Comparisons: Analytical and Narrative Methods for Cultural Understanding
Roger T. Ames

6. Alluding to the Text, or the Context
C. H. Wang

7. Epistemology in Cultural Context: Disguise and Deception in Early China and Early Greece
David N. Keightley

8. The Logic of Signs in Early Chinese Rhetoric
David Schaberg

9. Means and Means: A Comparative Reading of Aristotle's Ethics and the Zhongyong
Andrew Plaks

10. Fatalism, Fate, and Stratagem in China and Greece
Lisa Raphals

11. Cratylus and Xunzi on Names
Anthony C. Yu

12. Golden Spindles and Axes: Elite Women in the Archaemenid and Han Empires
Michael Nylan

13. Creating Tradition: Sima Qian Agonistes?
Stephen W. Durrant

List of Contributors


The first edited volume in Sino-Hellenic studies, this book compares early Chinese and ancient Greek thought and culture.


This pioneering book compares Chinese and Western thought to offer a bracing and unpredictable cross-cultural conversation. The work contributes to the emerging field of Sino-Hellenic studies, which links two great and influential cultures that, in fact, had virtually no contact during the ancient period. The patterns of thought and the cultural productions of early China and ancient Greece represent two significantly different responses to the myriad problems that human beings confront. Throughout this volume the comparisons between these cultures evince two critical ideas. First, that thinking is itself an inherently comparative activity. Through making comparisons, the familiar becomes strange, and the strange somewhat more familiar. Second, since we think through comparisons, we should think them all the way through. How valid and productive are the comparisons and contrasts made between particular works and different styles of thought that emerged from two different, although contemporaneous, cultural contexts?

At the University of Oregon, Steven Shankman is Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and Stephen W. Durrant is Professor of Chinese. They are coauthors of The Siren and the Sage: Knowledge and Wisdom in Ancient Greece and China. Shankman is also the author of In Search of the Classic and Durrant is also the author of The Cloudy Mirror: Tension and Conflict in the Writing of Sima Qian, published by SUNY Press.


"The subject matter is timely, exciting—broadening two important traditional fields of inquiry." — Robert C. Solomon, author of From Rationalism to Existentialism: The Existentialists and Their Nineteenth-Century Backgrounds

"This book helps to create and define an important new field: informed, disciplined, and insightful comparative cultural studies for the Greek and Chinese worlds. There is a steadily growing cohort of scholars who work on these types of problems, and they are attracting an increasing audience." — Willard J. Peterson, Princeton University