Ancient Chinese Philosophy

Philosophy | History

Course Description

The Master said: “Don’t grieve when people fail to recognize your ability. Grieve when you fail to recognize theirs.” Confucius (Kong Fu Zi), The Analects

Three great philosophies emerged from Imperial China: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. This course will examine their influence on Chinese spirituality, government, military strategy, social structure, family relations, science, and the arts. We will also learn about philosophies that were part of the Hundred Schools of Thought, such as Legalism, and later developments of these belief and moral systems, such as Neo-Confucianism or the School of Principle. 

What are the ideals and principles that these millennial philosophical and religious traditions value or propose? How did these competing, and sometimes conflicting, belief systems influence Chinese society and how does this influence continue today? How does the Chinese concept of Shi—understood as disposition or potential—“guide us to uncover the intricate and coherent structure underlying Chinese modes of thinking” (Francois Jullien)? And as the same author pondered: “Why did they not need to posit the existence of God to explain reality?”

Books to Purchase (will be available at Argo Bookshop during the weeks prior to the course beginning):

    • China between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties, Mark Edward Lewis (ISBN: 9780674060357)
    • The Propensity of Things: Toward a History of Efficacy in China, François Jullien (ISBN: 9780942299953)

Please note that this course has a maximum enrollment of 14 students.

NEW PAYMENT POLICY: Participants must pay the course fees in order to be considered registered for the course. 

For fully registered courses, a waiting list will be created. Should vacancies develop, those on the waiting list will be contacted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note that we do not allow participants to audit courses for free.

Course Details

Location: Zoom

First Session: Tuesday 14 March 2023

Course Length: 12 weeks, Tuesdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m. 

Discussion Team: Paul Billette, Joan Machnik, Heather Stephens

Degree Credit: 3.0 credits

Course Fee: 

$150.00 (standard tuition)

$100.00 (promotion for new students)

Administrative Fee:




$185.00 (standard tuition)

$135.00 (promotion for new students)


Course fees are refundable in full before the second session. After the second session, a fee of $50 for the withdrawal will be applied. Refunds will not be issued after the third session. Please note that non-attendance does not constitute a withdrawal.

Students pursuing studies for credit are encouraged to consult with their advisers as they register for courses.

Course leaders, and students wishing to use credit vouchers, should call (514) 935-9585 to pay by phone or to schedule an appointment to pay in person.

Fill the following form to register

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