PHL237H1 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Khosrow I, Wu Wei, Antinomy
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First Test Sample Questions: Classical Confucianism and Daoism
Please be reminded: These questions are only suggestive. They follow the order of
my lectures structured by (1) historical development; (2) textual interpretation; (3)
conceptual analysis. All questions come from my lectures and the introduction of
each chapter in the Source Book.
There will be 7 small questions(about historical facts and meaning/definition of
concepts) to choose from 8, and one big question(essay question) to choose from
1st lecture Introduction
1. What is the meaning (for you?) to study Chinese Philosophy today?
2. What does the term “philosophy” in Western tradition mean? Traditionally, what
were the Chinese terms more or less equivalent to the term “philosophy”? When the
Jesuits introduced Western philosophy to China in the late 16th Century, what terms they
used to translate “philosophy”? By whom was the term translated into “tetsugaku” 哲學
in Japanese? Who first used it in Chinese as “zhexue” 哲學?
3. What are the special characteristics of Chinese philosophy in comparison with
4. What textual sources early Chinese philosophers (like Confucius and Laozi) had
when they emerged in Chinese intellectual history? Write down three names of those
II. Classical Confucianism
1.What can we still learn from Confucius’s thought today? What is, according to you,
out-of-date in Confucius’ thought?
2. When did Confucius live? What was the title of the book attributed to him? Who
started to call his school rujia(Ru School)?
3. According to Wing-tsit Chan, in what sense did Confucius has determined humanism
as the outstanding characteristic of Chinese Philosophy.(SB p.15)
4. According to Wing-tsit Chan, what are the five basic concepts of humanistic
philosophy of Confucius?(SB p.15)
5. What does xiao (filial piety) mean? Why should there be filial piety? Explain the
“internal reason” Confucius gave for filial piety.
6. Explain Confucian external(social) function of filial piety and respect for elders.
7. Explain the three meanings of li(ritual) in ancient China.
8. Philosophically speaking, what is the main contribution of Confucius to li? How did
he lay the transcendental foundation of li?
9. Explain the meaning of ren(humanity, humaneness), and that of yi(righteousness).
10. Explain the relationship between ren, yi, li.
11. Explain the two meanings of “virtue” according to Confucius, and enumerate some
most important virtues in his virtue ethics.
12. What was Confucius’ view of politics? Or, what does he mean governance by li and
governance by virtue?
13. Explain the meaning of Confucius’ politics of rectification of names.
14. What is a negative golden rule? What is a positive golden rule? Explain them in
term of ‘reciprocity.”