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My Notes on Massive Open Online Course:
Chinese Thought: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science
An introduction to early Chinese thought, exploring connections among Chinese thought and Western philosophy, modern science and everyday life.
Notes on 35 Lectures I Watched in This Course:
The Definition of Religion
Mind/Body Dualism and Cognitive Control
Deontology, Utilitarianism, and Virtue Ethics
Wu-Wei, Dao, Tien and De
The Shang Dynasty (1554-1045 BC)
The Beginnings of Written Chinese History
Eastern Holistic Thinking and the Paradox of Virtue
The Golden Age of the Western Zhou (1046–771 BCE)
Philosophical and Conceptual Innovations in Zhou Thought
Confucius and the Analects
Confucius: I Transmit, I Do Not Innovate
Confucius' Use of Ritual as a Tool
Confucius' View on Learning vs. The Enlightenment
Confucius and Holistic Education
Confucius and the Art of Self-Cultivation
At Home in Virtue
Non-Coercive Comportment, Virtue, and Charisma of the Zhou
The Transition to Becoming Sincere
The Primitivists in the Analects
Laozi and the Daodejing
Laozi: Stop the Journey and Return Home
Laozi and The Desires of the Eye
Laozi: He Who Speaks Does Not Know
The Concept of Reversion
Laozi on Shutting Down the Prefrontal Cortex
The Guodian Laozi
Mozi and Materialist State Consequentialism
Mozi's Idea of Ideological Unity
Mozi's Doctrine of Impartial Caring
Mozi's Anti-Confucian Chapters
Mozi's Religious Fundamentalism and Organized Activism
The Language Crisis in the Warring States Period
Yang Zhu and Mid-Warring States' Focus on the Body
The Guodian School of Confucianism
Qi and Self-Cultivation
4 People I Have Learned About in this Course:
Tang of Shang (1675-1646 BC)
The first king of the Shang dynasty in Chinese history, overthrew Jie, the last ruler of the Xia dynasty
  • Tang had ruled Shang, one of the many kingdoms under the suzerainty of the Xia dynasty, for 17 years
  • during Jie's reign, Shang grew in power and was able to win many supporters from as many as 40 smaller kingdoms
  • he recognized that Jie mistreated his people and used this to convince others
  • Tang's reign was regarded as a good one by the Chinese, he lowered taxes and the conscription rate of soldiers, his influence spread to the Yellow River, and many outlying tribes, such as Di and Qiang, became vassal states, he also established Anyang as the new capital of China
Duke of Zhou (1152-1056 BC)
A member of the Zhou Dynasty who played a major role in consolidating the kingdom established by his elder brother King Wu
  • when King Wu died, King Cheng was too young to take over the kingship, so the Duke of Zhou acted as capable and loyal regent for his young nephew King Cheng by e.g. successfully suppressing a number of rebellions and placating the Shang nobility with titles and positions
  • a Chinese culture hero credited with writing the I Ching and the Book of Poetry, establishing the Rites of Zhou, and creating the yayue of Chinese classical music
  • a paragon of loyalty and wisdom
  • as soon as King Cheng was old enough to take over, he graciously gave the throne to the son of his brother
  • by Confucius and in Chinese culture, he is seen as the symbol of what a wise ruler and minister should be
King Wen (1152-1056 BC)
Honored as the founder of the Zhou dynasty
  • in trying to reform the evil King Zhow of the Shang dynasty, he became a perfect paragon of virtue and cultured correctness
  • he didn't take up arms against the king, it was his son Wu who conquered the Shang following the Battle of Muye
  • large number of the hymns of the Classic of Poetry are praises to the legacy of King Wen
  • the first epic hero of Chinese history
Xunzi (313-238 BC)
A Chinese Confucian philosopher who lived during the Warring States period, believed man's inborn tendencies need to be curbed through education and ritual, a counter to Mencius and so did not believe that man is innately good, and had a pragmatic flavor compared to Confucian optimism
  • believed that ethical norms had been invented to rectify mankind
  • contributed to one of the Hundred Schools of Thought (philosophers and schools that flourished from the 6th century to the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC)
  • "I once tried standing up on my toes to see far out in the distance, but I found that I could see much farther by climbing to a high place."
9 Vocabulary Words I Learned in this Course:
conflate, v. to bring together, to meld, to fuse  "The Zhou retain Shang Di, but conflate, and eventually replace it with what appears to be the tribal Zhou god tian."
denouement, n. the climax of a chain of events, usually when something is decided or made clear  "We'll talk about the denouement of this story later, he even quotes from the odes."
deontology, n. the normative ethical position that judges the morality of an action based on the action's adherence to a rule or rules  "Kant's theory is an example of a deontological or duty-based ethics: it judges morality by examining the nature of actions and the will of agents rather than goals achieved. Kant's position can be contrasted with that of John Stuart Mill's utilitarianism, in which, as an ethical being, you are a "rational calculator of payoffs"."
honorific, n. a title or word implying or expressing high status, politeness, or respect  "Especially in the Han Dynasty, there is this idea that they want to single out Confucius as special so they added another honorific "fu" which means "supper" in the middle of his name so "Kongzi" became "Kongfuzi" or, Latinized, "Confucius"."
incontrovertible, adj. not able to be denied or disputed  "Scholars in the West tend to view the Xia dynasty as mythical, we don't have any incontrovertible evidence of the Xia dynasty."
paragon, n. a person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality  "He became a perfect paragon of virtue and cultured correctness."
remonstrate, v. make a forcefully reproachful protest  "He did not take up arms against the evil king, he tried to remonstrate with him."
tamp, v. to drive in or pack down by frequent gentle strokes  "So cold cognition says, ok, I'll stop doing that, and I tamp down my hot cognition and act in a different way guided by conscious incentives taat have been set up by the institutional structure around me."
yayue, n. a form of Chinese classical music that was performed at imperial courts  "The Duke of Zhou established the Rites of Zhou and created the yayue of Chinese classical music."