Neo-Confucianism, The Book


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From the back cover:

  • A lucid, accessible, and highly readable introduction to the world of Neo-Confucian philosophy. The authors succeed admirably in unpacking what the Neo-Confucian thinkers meant and not just surveying what they said, and in doing so Angle and Tiwald encourage the reader to engage with Neo-Confucian ideas.
    John Makeham, Chair and Director, China Studies Research Centre, La Trobe University
  • This landmark work on Neo-Confucianism provides a tremendously helpful survey of the conceptual terrain that the thinkers in this tradition negotiated in their different ways and brings many more important thinkers onto the scene in dialogue with better-known figures such as the Cheng brothers, Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming.
    David B. Wong, Beischer Professor of Philosophy, Duke University

Student comments from Spring 2018 course at Wesleyan University are available here.

Review by Carine Defoort, Tijdschrift voor Filosofie 80(3): 591-592 [in Dutch]. An excerpt:

  • Because these thinkers [i.e., the Neo-Confucians] propose a variety of insights that seem somewhat Western, they have never really aroused my interest: fixed order patterns in a changing world seemed to me a diluted variant of an all too familiar dualistic worldview. The careful and broadly varied representation of Angle and Tiwald has changed that.


Neo-Confucianism is a philosophically sophisticated tradition weaving classical Confucianism together with themes from Buddhism and Daoism. It began in China around the eleventh century CE, played a leading role in East Asian cultures over the last millennium, and has had a profound influence on modern Chinese society.

Based on the latest scholarship but presented in accessible language, Neo-Confucianism: A Philosophical Introduction is organized around themes that are central in Neo-Confucian philosophy, including the structure of the cosmos, human nature, ways of knowing, personal cultivation, and approaches to governance. The authors thus accomplish two things at once: they present the Neo-Confucians in their own, distinctive terms; and they enable contemporary readers to grasp what is at stake in the great Neo-Confucian debates.

This novel structure gives both students and scholars in philosophy, religion, history, and cultural studies a new window into one of the world s most important philosophical traditions.

Table of Contents

Note on Abbreviations
1. Introduction
2. Pattern and Vital Stuff
3. Nature
4. Heartmind
5. Emotions
6. Knowing
7. Self-Cultivation
8. Virtues
9. Governance and Institutions
10. The Enduring Significance of Neo-Confucianism
Teaching Neo-Confucianism Topically
Table of Neo-Confucians