This page features a collection of the best resources on Chinese philosophy. Just to be clear, there is no single best resource on Chinese philosophy. The best one will depend on your preferred learning style and the amount of time you want to spend learning about it.
To get started, simply choose one of the links below:
If you want an academic overview of Chinese philosophy:
- Read the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Chinese Philosophy. However it’s quite long at around 8300 words. Here’s a short excerpt that introduces the idea of Chinese philosophy:
“There was no effort to write a comprehensive history of the Chinese Philosophy until the modern period of Western influence on Chinese culture. This is not to say that Chinese thinkers did not engage selectively with philosophers of earlier or contemporary eras.
What has come down to us as the final chapter of the Zhuangzi (ch. 33, Tian Xia “Under Heaven”) offers a sort of history of the development of Chinese philosophy. Of the writers of texts that survive to this day, it was Sima Tan (165?-110 B.C.E.) who made the first real attempt to classify Chinese thinkers into six major schools: Yin-Yang, Confucianism (Rujia), Mohism (Mojia), the School of Names (Mingjia), Legalism (Fajia), and Daoism (Daojia). As the history of Chinese philosophy evolved, more categories were added to these six, as well as various permutations and blends of them (for example, Profound Learning/Xuanxue and Neo-Confucianism/Lijia). . . .”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and more engaging introduction:
- Read Bryan W Van Norden’s article: The influential Confucian philosopher you’ve never heard of [3500 words]
If you’d prefer a video introduction:
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
- Listen to Michael Puett discuss Ritual in Chinese Philosophy on the Philosophy Bites podcast [20 mins]
Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can learn by using free online resources. If you want to learn more, check out this list of the best books on Chinese Philosophy.
For more introductory philosophy resources and reading lists check out this collection of Resources and Reading Lists.