He (和), or harmony, has traditionally been a central concept in Chinese thought, and to this day continues to shape the way in which people in China and East Asia think about ethics and politics. Yet, there is no systematic and comprehensive introduction of harmony as has been variously articulated in different Chinese schools. This edited volume aims to fill this gap. The individual contributions elaborate the conceptions of harmony as these were exemplified in central Chinese schools of thought, including Daoism, Confucianism, Legalism, Mohism, Buddhism, and trace their impact on contemporary Chinese philosophy. The volume explores the various meanings and implications of harmony so as to consider its relevance as a value and virtue in the modern world. It provides an accessible but substantial introductory work for readers interested in learning about pertinent core concepts and theories in Chinese thought, as well as engages specialists in Chinese philosophy by explicating its implications for ethical, political, epistemological, and metaphysical reflection as the basic point of reference.
Chenyang Li is professor of philosophy at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Sai Hang Kwok is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Macau.
Dascha Düring is a postdoctoral fellow of the School of Humanities, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Introduction: In Search of Harmony
Section I: Historical and Conceptual Frameworks
Chapter 1: “He (和)”, Concept Cluster of Harmony in Early China
Chapter 2: Music and the Concept of Harmony as Seen in Unearthed Manuscripts
Chapter 3: Active Harmony, Passive Harmony, Freedom, and Domination
Section II: Daoism
4. Divergent Models of Harmony From the Zhuangzi
Chapter 5: “Being Cool with Something (he zhi和之):” Conflict Resolution in the Zhuangzi
Chapter 6: Emptying the Body: The Space of Harmonization in Han Daoism
Section III: Confucianism
Chapter 7: Confucian Harmony as Ritual Synchronicity
Chapter 8: Harmony as Hermeneutic Openness: Aesthetic Perspectives on Confucian Harmony
Section IV: Contending Voices of Mohism, Legalism, and Buddhism
Chapter 9: Tong: A Mohist Response to the Confucian Harmony
Chapter 10: The Divergence between the Confucian and Legalist Quest for Harmony
Chapter 11: Harmony and Nature: Thoughts from Laozi and Shen Dao
Chapter 12. Harmony and Paradox: The Tiantai Buddhist View of the “Round/Perfect” (yuan圓)
Section V: Contemporary Discussions
Chapter 13: Reflections on Three Challenges to a Discussion of Harmony
Chapter 14: Meritocracy, Democracy, and Deep Harmony: Toward Democratic Relationality
List of Contributors
It should go without saying that “harmony” is a central concept in Chinese thought, but what is less understood is the range of views and contestation around “harmony.” By including leading scholars' views of the many faces of harmony, and especially by tracking the concept through time — down to the present day — this volume offers a comprehensive, detailed examination of this most important idea. The result is a volume that is unusually well integrated and stands as an authoritative work on the subject of harmony.
In a time marked by conflict and polarizing dispute (in the West), it is a pleasure to read this book on "Harmony in Chinese Thought: A Philosophical Introduction." The contributors elaborate on different versions of harmony championed by different Chinese schools and traditions, and they do it with great competence and insight. The range of ideas covered in the book is stunning; in my view this is the first academic text offering a comprehensive landscape of philosophical traditions in China. The value of this landscape is all the more compelling given the relative neglect of harmony in Western political thought during recent centuries.