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MOOC alert: Chinese Thought: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science - Part 1


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For those interested in Chinese History MOOCs, Ed Slingerland's MOOC on "Early Chinese Thought" will be starting again on 10 September, on the EdX platform.


It's free unless you want to pay USD 49 for a certificate.




Blurb follows:


This course is designed to give students a thorough introduction to early (pre-221 BCE) Chinese thought, its contemporary implications, and the role of religion in human well-being. Important themes to be discussed include the ideal of wu-wei or “effortless action,” the paradox of how one can consciously try not to try, mindfulness techniques and self-cultivation, models of the self and society, rationality versus emotions, trust and human cooperation, and the structure and impact of different spiritual and political ideals.

This period of Chinese history witnessed the formation of all of the major indigenous schools of Chinese thought (Confucianism, Daoism, Mohism and Legalism), which in turn had an impact on the development of East Asian cultural history that is still felt today. We will also explore parallels with Western philosophical and religious traditions, the relevance of early Chinese thought for contemporary debates in ethics, moral education, and political philosophy, and the manner in which early Chinese models of the self-anticipate recent developments in the evolutionary and cognitive sciences.

This course provides a full university semester’s worth of material broken into two parts. Each part of the course will last 5 weeks, with a week-long break in between. For each part, there will be four weeks worth of new material. The fifth week will be reserved for review and completion of the final exam.

Part 1 introduces the basic philosophical, religious and scientific concepts that will be drawn upon throughout the course, and then goes on to cover early Shang and Zhou religious thought, the Analects of Confucius, the Daodejing (a Daoist text attributed to Laozi), the utilitarian thinker Mozi, the newly discovered and very exciting Guodian texts, and the momentous philosophical changes that occurred in the mid Warring States period.

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I don't post much, but I saw this and am curious if anyone else is familiar with Slingerland's work.


I'm a younger scholar who does research in comparative philosophy (mostly between Hellenistic and early Chinese thought), and have read most of Slingerland's work. I have found it...less than stellar.


I have not run in to anyone else who is familiar with his work, so I was wondering if anyone here has read his work and would be interested in discussing it.



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I did both of these courses a couple years back and really enjoyed them both.  Slingerland is a very engaging instructor (if a little gimmicky/show-offy at times) and seems to know his stuff.  I've done a few online courses and this is probably one of the best ones.  I'd definitely recommend it for anyone interested in ancient Chinese thought, moral psychology and ethics.  If September wasn't the start of a new school year I'd consider taking this course again.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 8/19/2019 at 3:33 AM, 洋人丹 said:

I'm a younger scholar who does research in comparative philosophy (mostly between Hellenistic and early Chinese thought), and have read most of Slingerland's work. I have found it...less than stellar.



Could you give some examples? Or more detail?

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