The Shenzi Fragments: A Philosophical Analysis and Translation

Hardcover | September 20, 2016

byEirik Lang Harris

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The Shenzi Fragments is the first complete translation in any Western language of the extant work of Shen Dao (350-275 B.C.E.). Though his writings have been recounted and interpreted in many texts, particularly in the work of Xunzi and Han Fei, very few Western scholars have encountered the political philosopher's original, influential formulations. This volume contains both a translation and an analysis of the Shenzi Fragments. It explains their distillation of the potent political theories circulating in China during the Warring States period, along with their seminal relationship to the Taoist and Legalist traditions and the philosophies of the Lüshi Chunqiu and the Huainanzi. These fragments outline a rudimentary theory of political order modeled on the natural world that recognizes the role of human self-interest in maintaining stable rule. Casting the natural world as an independent, amoral system, Shen Dao situates the source of moral judgment firmly within the human sphere, prompting political philosophy to develop in realistic directions. Harris's sophisticated translation is paired with commentary that clarifies difficult passages and obscure references. For sections open to multiple interpretations, he offers resources for further research and encourages readers to follow their own path to meaning, much as Shen Dao intended. The Shenzi Fragments offers English-language readers a chance to grasp the full significance of Shen Dao's work among the pantheon of Chinese intellectuals.

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From the Publisher

The Shenzi Fragments is the first complete translation in any Western language of the extant work of Shen Dao (350-275 B.C.E.). Though his writings have been recounted and interpreted in many texts, particularly in the work of Xunzi and Han Fei, very few Western scholars have encountered the political philosopher's original, influenti...

Eirik Lang Harris is assistant professor of philosophy in the Department of Public Policy at the City University of Hong Kong, where he is also a member of the Center for East Asian and Comparative Philosophy. His research focuses on early Chinese political and moral philosophy, with an emphasis on its potential contributions to conte...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:200 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:September 20, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231177666

ISBN - 13:9780231177665

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsConventions and AbbreviationsIntroductionPart I: A Philosophical Study of the Shenzi FragmentsShen Dao's Political PhilosophyShen Dao in the Early Chinese Intellectual MilieuPart II: A Translation of the Shenzi FragmentsAppendix: Conversion and Finding ChartNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Harris provides an excellent translation and study of the Shenzi Fragments and does a beautiful job of demonstrating the significance of the fragments for our understanding of early Chinese political philosophy. This work will play a crucial role in bringing scholarly attention back to these important yet often neglected materials.