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Chinese Thought

The Origin, The Rise Of Rational Thinking, Heaven And Humans, Syncretic Philosophies, Bibliography

Chinese thought is a generic term, referring to the ideas produced, expanded, and transmitted in the history of China. First, these ideas are not simply general opinions, but the philosophical views of the world, life, and society that have been commonly accepted as concepts or systematic theories. These ideas or theories are the end-products of logical reasoning—in Chinese, the two characters si xiang (thought) both contain a radical xin (heart/mind), the faculty of which is defined as "thinking" (Mengzi, 6A:15, p. 168). Secondly, these concepts or theories are primarily transmitted through words or writings, conveyable to and understandable by the people of later generations, although other means can also be used to pass on ideas; for example, symbolic form and structure of excavated artifacts and architectures have been correctly "understood" or interpreted as the meaningful ideas that underlie, and are integrated with, the history and culture of China. Thirdly, these concepts or theories are "typical" of the Chinese, who have employed them as tools to explore the inner and the external world, and to recapture the interaction between human activities and the natural and/or the supernatural realms. What is meant by "typical" here is in practice the formalization of philosophical opinions characteristic of the process of thinking by major Chinese philosophers.

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