A Life of Thought and Politics

Ann-Ping Chin

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A masterful account of the political life and intellectual development of the moral thinker who has remained a powerful force in China up to the present day

For more than two thousand years, Confucius (551–479 B.C.) has been a fundamental part of China's history. His influence as a moral thinker remains powerful to this day. Yet despite his fame and the perennial interest in his life and teachings, Confucius the man has been elusive, and no definitive biography has emerged. In this book, the scholar and writer Annping Chin negotiates centuries of reconstructions, guess-work, and numerous Chinese texts in order to establish an absorbing and original account of the thinker's life and legacy. She shows with new insight how Confucius lived and thought, his habits and inclinations, his relation to his contemporaries, his work as a teacher and as a counsellor, his worries about the world and the generations to come.

Chin brings the historical Confucius within reach so that he can lead us into his idea of the moral and explain his timeless teachings on family and politics, culture and learning. Confucius is the culmination of years of research, a book that makes an important and fascinating contribution to biography and Chinese history.

Ann-Ping Chin received her PhD in Chinese Thought from Columbia University. Formerly on the faculty at Wesleyan University, she now teaches in the history department at Yale. She is the author of four previous books.

"The life of Confucius, China's 'Sage for Ten-Thousand Generations,' began like all others - in a particular time and place. Although Annping Chin is clearly impressed with the timeless quality of Confucius' teaching, she strives to show us Confucius as he traveled through his life. As she says of his teaching, so too might we say of this book: 'it mirrors a life unfolding, and it is natural.' This may not be 'the' authentic Confucius for ever and always, but it is an authentic one - of his time and place, and for ours."—Edward L. Shaughnessy

"The teachings of Confucius have survived through periods of political upheaval and brutal suppression for some 2500 years. Gleaned from her years of study of fragments of ancient texts, Dr. Chin has sketched a highly readable and thought provoking portrait of the life and times of Confucius."—Henry A. Kissinger

"Confucius even now remains the mind of China, and always returns again, whatever the regime. But he can be difficult for Westerners to apprehend, because our cultures and his are so different. It is one of the strengths of Annping Chin's Confucius that she clears away most of the difficulties, and allows us to approach an understanding of the sage's life, work, and sayings. Like Socrates and Jesus, Confucius relied upon the spoken word, with all its nuances of enigmatic wisdom. Annping Chin helps us to recover those nuances, as no one else has."—Harold Bloom

"This is a passionate biography of a man who, as Annping Chin puts it, strove 'to keep the idea of the moral within human reach.' It is a fascinating attempt to recover the actual historical figure who did so much to shape one of the world's great civilizations; but it is also a gripping portrait of that rare person who both faced up to 'human form and fate'–and lovingly embraced what he saw."—Jonathan Lear, University of Chicago

"College students and the general reader as well will be richly rewarded as they follow Dr. Chin's thoughtful exploration of the milieu in which Confucius developed his still-relevant synthesis of ethics and politics."—Moss Roberts, Professor of Chinese, New York University

ISBN: 9780300151183
Publication Date: May 26, 2009
288 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

Sales Restrictions: World excluding the British Commonwealth (except Canada)