Wisdom in Chinese Confucian Philosophy | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 112, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-5275
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1244



This article introduces the Chinese conception of wisdom by a focus mainly on the famous discussion in Mencius. It emphasizes that everything is a change, that changes toward wisdom are natural (or in the case of Xunzi, humane), and that people are always changing toward or away from what is wise. In contrast to much Western thought, wisdom is a response to external things, not to an internal marker. Moreover, it is nearly always a commentary on conjoint actions as in a game, or ritual. The essay continues some strands of Chinese thinking about wisdom through Xunzi and up to Zhu Xi. My position as a Westerner is commented on at the end.


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  1. Stephen C.Angle, Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
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  2. Wing-tsitChan, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963).
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  3. Confucius, Analects.
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Chinese philosophy; Confucius; Daoism; Mencius; wisdom; Xunzi; Zhu Xi
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