In order to support my Chinese Martial Arts practice, I have been informing myself on chinese thought. The following notes are those of a ignorant student, and do not have any pretention of being scholarly or profound, just informative. The sources I used to get acquainted with this aspect of Chinese culture are the following:

and on the Chinese Text Project an excellent source of original chinese texts online.
What in Western Countries is called “Chinese Philosophy” can be equated to different things in different times in China. Some of the names related to it are the following:
  • Learning of the mysteries or 玄學 (simplified: 玄学, pīnyīn: Xuán xué), during the Wei – 魏 (pīnyīn: Wèi) and 晉 (simplified: 晋, pīnyīn: Jìn) dynasties,
  • Learning of the way or learning of the truth or 道學 (simplified: 道学, pīnyīn: Xuán xué), during the Song - 宋 (pīnyīn: Sòng) dynasty,
  • Learning of the principles or 義理之學 (simplified: 义理之學, pīnyīn: Yì lǐ zhī xué) during the Ching – 清 (simplified: qīng) dynasty,
  • Philosophy or哲學 (simplified: 哲学, pīnyīn: zhé xué), a term borrowed from Japanese during the 19th century.

Based on the western division of philosophy, it can be said that Chinese Philosophy concerned itself mainly with ethics, followed by metaphysics. Logic and epistemology are touched upon by early philosophers of the School of Names – 名家 (pīnyīn: míng jiā).

Chinese thinkers had paid little attention to methodology. Therefore the presentation of ideas is often done without a system in the Western or Indian philosophies understand it.

Chinese Philosophy can be divided into two major periods:
  • The period of the Philosophers, from the beginning until around the middle of the Western Han Dynasty – 漢 (simplified: 汉, pīnyīn: Hàn) – circa 100B.C.. This period saw the flourishing of different and competing schools of thought, in a spirit similar to that of the Ancient Western Philosophy,
  • The period of Classical Learning starting at the end of the Period of the Philosophers until the beginning of the Republic (1911 A.D.). This period was marked by the preponderance of the Confucian School – 儒家 (pīnyīn: Rú jiā), which absorbed and synthesized the different philosophic currents. Its spirit is similar to the Medieval Western Philosophy in the sense that all developments in thought are made using the base of the systems established during the Period of the Philosophers. Another similarity to the Western Medieval Period is the introduction and importance of a foreign system, the Buddhism.

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