Tsinghua University – University of Amsterdam Joint Research Centre for Logic
Tsinghua University – University of Amsterdam Joint Research Centre for Logic

Knowledge and Skepticism in Classical Chinese Thought

Course Description

Classical Chinese texts present a non-representational approach to knowledge on which knowing is a norm-governed competence in distinguishing and responding to things.

This competence involves not only correct judgment but knowing how to adapt to various conditions so as to avoid error while conscientiously seeking appropriate norms by which to guide judgment. Skepticism concerns the status of these norms. The central skeptical issue is not whether we engage with the world but whether the norms by which we do so are appropriate or might be rendered inapplicable by changing conditions. The course will explore conceptions and problems of knowledge as presented in Mòzǐ, the Mohist “Dialectics,” Xúnzǐ, The Annals of Lv Buwei, and Zhuāngzǐ.

  • Lecturer: Chris Fraser (University of Toronto)
  • TA: Hu Zhenkun (胡振坤, hzk20@mails.tsinghua.edu.cn) 
  • Time: 9:50-12:15, 03 July – 07 July
  • Venue: 四教4401
Tentative Schedule
  1. Introduction

    Readings: *Fraser, “Knowledge and Error in Early Chinese Thought”; Optional background reading: Historical and philological introduction

  2. Mohism墨家
    Primary source reading: *Selections from Mòzǐ, including Mohist Dialectics

    Secondary source reading: Fraser, The Philosophy of the Mozi, chapter 2; Fraser, Late Classical Chinese Thought, chapter 5 (selection)

  3. Xúnzǐ荀子
    Primary source reading: *Selections from Xúnzǐ

    Secondary source reading: Fraser, Late Classical Chinese Thought (selection); Fraser, “Epistemic Competence and Agency in Sosa and Xunzi” (optional)

  4. Lǚ’s Annals (The Annals of Lv Buwei) 呂氏春秋
    Primary source reading: *Selections from Annals
    Secondary source reading: Late Classical Chinese Thought, chapter 5 (selection)

  5. Zhuāngzǐ莊子
    Primary source reading: *Selections from Zhuāngzǐ
    Secondary source reading: Late Classical Chinese Thought, chapter 5 (selection)

“*”: Focus reading for class discussion

Assignments

There will three questions (for the whole week), and you can choose to answer two of them.

Recordings