A History of Chinese Political Thought
A History of Chinese Political Thought
China's rapid rise as a regional and global power is one of the most important political developments of the twenty-first century. Yet the West still largely overlooks or oversimplifies the complex ideas and ideals that have shaped the country’s national and international transformation from antiquity to the present day. 

In this beautifully written introductory text, Youngmin Kim offers a uniquely incisive survey of the major themes in Chinese political thought from customary community to empire, exploring their theoretical importance and the different historical contexts in which they arose. Challenging traditional assumptions about Chinese nationalism and Marxist history, Kim shows that "China" does not have a fixed, single identity, but rather is a constantly moving target. His probing, interdisciplinary approach traces the long and nuanced history of Chinese thought as a true tradition anchored in certain key themes, many of which began in the early dynasties and still resonate in China today. Only by appreciating this rich history, he argues, can we begin to understand the intricacies and contradictions of contemporary Chinese politics, economy, and society.
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  • December 2017
  • 288 pages
  • 152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9780745652467
  • Paperback $28.00
  • 9780745652474
  • Open eBook $22.99
  • 9781509523184
Table of Contents
  • Table of Contents
  • A Note on Conventions
  • Dynasties and Periods
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1 Introduction
  • Chapter 2 Enlightened Customary Community
  • Chapter 3 Political Society
  • Chapter 4 the State
  • Chapter 5 Aristocratic Society
  • Chapter 6 Metaphysical Republic
  • Chapter 7 Greater Integrated World
  • Chapter 8 Autocracy
  • Chapter 9 Civil Society or Body Politic
  • Chapter 10 Empire
  • Epilogue: China in Larger Contexts
  • Glossary
  • Works Cited
  • Figures
About the Author

Youngmin Kim is Professor of Political Science at Seoul National University.

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"An authoritative, deeply learned, and comprehensive overview of Chinese political thought from the earliest times up to the present day. This book is invaluable in helping to locate the complexity of Chinese thought, and the hybrid roots from which it has grown. At the centre of this is Kim's powerful argument for how there was never historically one China, but many - and a world of though that grew from this. Utterly indispensable."
Kerry Brown, Lau China Institute, King's College London

"I am so happy that a book like this now exists. For too long, the presentation of Chinese political philosophy in Anglophone publishing has been dominated by discussion of a reified, essentialized 'Confucianism' with no connection to historical reality. In this volume, Kim strikes exactly the right balance between historical contextualization and philosophical acumen, going beyond study of classical texts to include the entire history of Chinese political thought. The book is written with the thoroughness and lucidity of a textbook, while maintaining the nuance and innovation of a research monograph. It will stand as one of those rare books that makes a major intervention to scholarly literature while also remaining accessible to the general reader interested in how Chinese political thought developed, and the continuing relevance it holds for today."
Leigh Jenco, London School of Economics and Political Science

"This is a remarkable book, effortlessly blending incisive theoretical innovations and historical narrative. It challenges much conventional wisdom to produce a novel, balanced overview of Chinese political thought that should be the new point of departure for all students of the subject."
Stephen C. Angle, Wesleyan University
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