¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 This course is intended for people who would like to learn how to read classical Chinese philosophy and history as expeditiously as possible. The professor, Mark Edward Lewis, is a specialist in early Chinese history. He is not a linguist, and offers no more discussion of grammatical particles and structures than is strictly necessary.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 To properly study this course, it is essential to start at the beginning (“Lesson 1: Classical Chinese”) and then work straight through the lessons in order. Lesson 1 lays out the basic principles of the language. Each lesson presupposes mastery of the vocabulary and grammar in the preceding lessons.
- ¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0
- Extracts from a leading early Chinese philosophical text.
- The new vocabulary that appears in the extracts, with modern pronunciation.
- Explanations of grammar and the key particles (which indicate the grammatical structure of sentences).
- A complete translation of each extract.
- A detailed commentary on the intellectual content, grammatical structures, and rhetorical patterns of each extract.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 The ten texts are introduced in approximate chronological order. The “approximate” is required here, since most of the texts were produced over long periods of time, and thus often overlap in their dates. This order has the advantage for the student that the earliest texts were composed of relatively short, independent passages. Later texts elaborate fuller, more complex arguments in longer blocks of writing.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 As noted above, each commentary contains a discussion of the ideas elaborated in the extract. For a fuller understanding of each text, the titles of two or three translations are provided. In addition, throughout the lessons there are references to A. C. Graham’s Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China, which remains the best one-volume treatment of early Chinese thought. The Guide contains questions to help guide the student’s reading of Graham, which would greatly enrich the understanding of Chinese philosophy derived from this course. For a quick introduction, students could also use the more recently published Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy, by Bryan W. Van Norden. The anthology Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, 2nd ed., edited by Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden is also useful.