Sample Questions for First Test: Classical Confucianism and Daoism
Please be reminded:
A. These questions are only suggestive for your review of the course materials.
B. The course is organized around (1) historical development; (2) conceptual
analysis; (3) textual interpretation. Questions may come from any of these three
components related to my lectures and each introductory part of the Source
C. Most important is your understanding of the philosophical issues involved.
The main purpose of these questions is not to burden your memory. If you do
only to memorize them, you will easily forget them.
1. What is the meaning for you to study Chinese Philosophy today?
2. What does the term “philosophy” mean? Traditionally, what were the Chinese
terms more or less equivalent to the term “philosophy” in Western tradition? When
the Jesuits introduced Western philosophy to China in late 16 Century, what terms
they used to translate “philosophy”? By whom was the term translated into
“tetsugaku” 哲哲 ? Who first used it in Chinese as “zhexue” 哲哲, why there are debates
today in China concerning the legitimacy of using the term “Chinese philosophy”?
3. What are the special characteristics of Chinese philosophy in comparison with
4. What textual sources early Chinese philosophers had when they emerged in
Chinese intellectual history? Write down three names of those texts. Tell succinctly
their main ideas and contributions to Chinese philosophy.
1. What can we still learn from Confucius’s thought today? What is, according to you,
out-of-date in Confucius’thought?
2. According to Wing-tsit Chan, in what sense did Confucius has determined
humanism as the outstanding characteristic of Chinese Philosophy.
3. According to Wing-tsit Chan, what are the five basic concepts of humanistic
philosophy of Confucius?
4. Explain Confucius “internal arguments” for filial piety.
5. Explain Confucian external arguments for filial piety and respect for elders.
6. Explain the three meanings of li(ritual) in ancient China.
7. Philosophically speaking, what is the main contribution of Confucius to li? How
did he lay the transcendental foundation of li?
8. Explain the meaning of ren(humanity, humaneness), and that of yi(righteousness).
9. Explain the relationship between ren, yi, li.
10. Explain the two meanings of “virtue” according to Confucius, and enumerate
some most important virtues in his virtue ethics.
11. What was Confucius’ view of politics? Or, what does he mean governance by li
and governance by virtue?
12. Explain the meaning of Confucius’politics of rectification of names.
13. What is a negative golden rule? What is a positive golden rule? Explain them in
term of ‘reciprocity.” 2
14. Explain Confucius’ concept of shu in term of the capacity to go outside of oneself
to many others and ren the dynamism in Confucianism to go beyond reciprocity to
1. What is Si-Meng School? What are the most evident changes from Confucius to
Mencius as shown by the Confucian part of Guodian bamboo slips?
2. Explain the change of the meaning of “Heaven” from Confucius to Si-Meng
3. Explain the meaning and importance of text related to “Dao starts from feeling,” in
particular those of the concept of “feeling.”
4. Explain the disti