Philosophy and Religion in Early Medieval China

Edited by Alan K. L. Chan & Yuet-Keung Lo

Subjects: Chinese Religion And Philosophy, Chinese Studies, History, Religion
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9781438431888, 381 pages, July 2011
Hardcover : 9781438431871, 381 pages, July 2010

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Table of contents

Alan K. L. Chan
1. Sage Nature and the Logic of Namelessness: Reconstructing He Yan’s Explication of Dao
Alan K. L. Chan

2. Tracing the Dao: Wang Bi’s Theory of Names
Jude Soo Meng Chua

3. Hexagrams and Politics: Wang Bi’s Political Philosophy in the Zhouyi zhu
Tze Ki Hon

4. Li in Wang Bi and Guo Xiang: Coherence in the Dark
Brook Ziporyn

5. The Sage without Emotion: Music, Mind, and Politics in Xi Kang
Ulrike Middendorf

6. The Ideas of Illness, Healing, and Morality in Early Heavenly Master Daoism
Chi Tim Lai

7. Imagining Community: Family Values and Morality in the Lingbao Scriptures
Stephen R. Bokenkamp

8. What is Geyi, After All?
Victor H. Mair

9. The Buddharaja Image of Emperor Wu of Liang
Kathy Cheng Mei Ku

10. Social and Cultural Dimensions of Reclusion in Early Medieval China
Alan Berkowitz

11. Destiny and Retribution in Early Medieval China
Yuet Keung Lo


An exploration of Chinese during a time of monumental change, the period after the fall of the Han dynasty.


Exploring a time of profound change, this book details the intellectual ferment after the fall of the Han dynasty. Questions about "heaven" and the affairs of the world that had seemed resolved by Han Confucianism resurfaced and demanded reconsideration. New currents in philosophy, religion, and intellectual life emerged to leave an indelible mark on the subsequent development of Chinese thought and culture. This period saw the rise of xuanxue ("dark learning" or "learning of the mysterious Dao"), the establishment of religious Daoism, and the rise of Buddhism. In examining the key ideas of xuanxue and focusing on its main proponents, the contributors to this volume call into question the often-presumed monolithic identity of this broad philosophical front. The volume also highlights the richness and complexity of religion in China during this period, examining the relationship between the Way of the Celestial Master and local, popular religious beliefs and practices, and discussing the relationship between religious Daoism and Buddhism.

Alan K. L. Chan is Professor of Philosophy at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His books include Two Visions of the Way: A Study of the Wang Pi and the Ho-shang Kung Commentaries on the Lao-tzu, also published by SUNY Press; Filial Piety in Chinese Thought and History; and Mencius: Contexts and Interpretations. Yuet-Keung Lo is Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at the National University of Singapore. Together they have coedited Interpretation and Literature in Early Medieval China, also published by SUNY Press


". ..the rich level of scholarship … and the breadth of topics examined, will ensure that the volume will be useful for a wide range of scholarly interests. " — Dao

". ..Chan and Lo have deeply enriched our understanding of early medieval China (220–589 CE). " — Journal of Chinese Religions

"…a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on medieval China. " — Philosophy East & West