Book Review: Mencius and Early Chinese Thought
Author: Kwong-loi Shun
Book Reviewer: Deborah Sommer, Gettysburg College
This is the first of a projected three-volume series on "the nature of Confucian-Mencian ethical thought." This volume, as well as a projected second volume, highlights important passages and concepts from the Mencius for close exegetical analysis, and compares them insightfully with such works as the Analects, the Guanzi, and the Mozi. Comparative philosophical interpretation of these concepts is planned for a projected volume three. By separating textual analysis from modem philosophical interpretation, Shun attempts to consider early Chinese concepts on their own terms, as far as that is possible, without viewing them through the lens of contemporary Western categories. One might argue that "ethical thought" is itself a Western category, but Shun's attempt to describe Mencius' ideas as directly as possible is commendable. His discussion of such concepts as heaven, the human "nature," self-cultivation, and benevolence is marked by clarity and precision. [excerpt]
Sommer, Deborah. Review of Mencius and Early Chinese Thought, by Kwong-loi Shun (Stanford University Press, 1997). Journal of Chinese Religions 26.1 (January 1998): 184-185.