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Chinese Studies: Philosophy

A guide to resources for the study of China

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Chinese Philosophy (Master's Literature)





Kongzi 孔子 or Confucius (ca. 551–479 BC)

Notable Translations:

  1. Edward Slingerland, trans. Confucius: Analects (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2003)
  2. D.C. Lau, trans., Confucius: The Analects (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979); Bilingual Edition, with Chinese text (HK Univ. Press, 2000)
  3. Simon Leys, trans., The Analects of Confucius (New York: Norton, 1997)
  4. Raymond Dawson, trans. Confucius: The Analects (Oxford Univ. Press, 1993)
  5. Arthur Waley, trans., The Analects of Confucius (New York: Random House, 1938)
  6. Tsai Chi-chong, The Analects, graphic novel in English trans. (Princeton Univ. Press, 2018)




Mengzi 孟子 or Mencius (ca. 372–289 BC)

  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Bryan Van Norden"Mencius"
  • Chinese Text Project: "Mengzi" (Digital Chinese text with translation by James Legge, d. 1897)

Notable Translations:

  1. D.C. Lau, tr. Mencius (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970; rpt. 2009)
  2. D.C. Lau, tr. Mencius. Bilingual Edition (University of Hong Kong Press, 2009)
  3. Bryan W. Van Norden, tr. Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2008) eBook.





Xunzi 荀子 (ca. 312–230 BC)

  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Paul Golden: "Xunzi"
  • Chinese Text Project: "Xunzi" (Digital edition of Chinese text)

Notable Translations:

  1. John Knoblock, tr. Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the Complete Works. 3 vols. (Stanford University Press, 1988-94)
  2. Burton Watson, tr. Basic Writings of Hsün Tzu (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963; reprinted 2003).

Databases of Primary Sources

Good English Translations of the Confucian Analects

Confucius Analects: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries

 E. Slingerland (trans.). Published: 2003.

The Analects of Confucius

Annotated and translated by Arthur Waley. Published: 1938; rpt. 1989.

Confucius: The Analects

Oxford World Classics. Raymond Dawson (trans.). Published: 1993.

The Analects: Confucius

Norton Critical Edition. Translated by Simon Leys. Published, 2014. 

Massive Open Online Courses

Chinese Thought: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science (Part 1) by Edward Slingerland (University of British Columbia). Create and account to view content for this free online course. The lectures are exceptionally good. The course covers Confucianism, Taoism, and Mohist Thought, and the early Chinese historical context for these ways of understanding the world.

The Path to Happiness: What Chinese Philosophy Teaches us about the Good Life Michel Puett (Harvard University). The course focuses on seven figures from this period in particular: Confucius, Mozi, Mencius, Laozi, Zhuangzi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi.

Good General Overviews of Early Chinese Thought

Books to Help with Historical Context

Best Dictionary App and Online Dictionary for Classical Chinese


For your Chinese to English, English to Chinese, and Chinese to Chinese dictionary needs, I recommend that you download the Pleco App to your device. There are many excellent features and dictionaries that can be purchased within the App. Including the dictionary by Paul W. Kroll described below.

Best Print Dictionaries for Classical Chinese (Located in Asian Reference)

Unabridged Dictionaries (Multiple Volumes)

Hanyu da cidian  汉语大词典 (Comprehensive Dictionary of Chinese Words)

Asian Reference PL 1420 .H26 1987 (12 vols.)

Hanyu da zidian  汉语大字典 (Comprehensive Dictionary of Chinese Characters)

Asian Reference PL 1420 .H26 1986 (10 vols.)

Dai Kanwa jiten 大漢和辞典 (Morohashi)  Definitions in Japanese

Asian Reference PL 681.C5 M6 1966  (13 vols).     

Zhongwen da cidian 中文大辭典 (Comprehensive Chinese Dictionary)

Asian Reference PL 1420 .C57  (40 vols).