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Summer Session 1

ASIA 65.001: Philosophy on Bamboo: Rethinking Early Chinese Thought
Gen Eds: PH, WB
Instructional Mode: Remote Only – Synchronous
MTWThF, 11:30 AM – 01:00 PM
Uffe Bergeton

Uffe Bergeton is a historian of early China with a focus on pre-Qin (i.e. pre-221 BCE) language, history and thought. Originally from Denmark, he has lived and studied in France, Taiwan and China. In his first book (The Emergence Of Civilizational Consciousness in Early China: History Word By Word) he uses lexical changes to trace the emergence of proto-anthropological concepts in the Warring States period (481-221 BCE). His current research project uses a similar approach to trace evolving conceptualizations of armed conflict in the pre-Qin period.

Over the last few decades a large number of bamboo manuscripts of hitherto unknown texts dating to the fourth to the first century BCE have been excavated from various sites in China. This wealth of new materials has led many scholars to rethink longstanding assumptions about early Chinese thought. In order to enable students to engage directly with the recently discovered texts and cutting-edge research on them, this course will briefly introduce students to the received classics of the pre-Qin period, such as the Analects, the Mozi, the Mencius, and the Daodejing. Rather than merely providing an introduction to these traditional texts, we will study how recently discovered texts challenge traditional readings of pre-Qin works and lead us to question traditional classifications of pre-Qin works into “schools of thought” or isms such as Confucianism, Legalism, Daoism, etc.