ARC/RELS 401: Excavated Texts in Early China: Self and Cosmos

This course is a brief introduction to some of the texts excavated in China in the last fifty years relevant to the philosophical subjects of self and cosmos. These texts provide new context for old traditions and have stimulated new analyses of old narratives. That is, received texts were written in a context that has largely been lost to us, but new excavated discoveries help us to contextualize them more accurately. And this new context, in turn, allows us a more accurate theoretical understanding of the ideas current in that place and time. This understanding, finally, might be of strictly historical interest, or it may in fact help us think about our own conceptions of self and our relation to the cosmos today. The time period under consideration for this course is the Warring States (770-256) through the Han (202bce-220ce). We will read and discuss some of the academic literature in English that addresses these topics and students will conduct and present their own original research at the end.

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