Provider: Harvard at EdX [course page]
Lecturer: Peter K. Bol, William C. Kirby + others
Subject: Humanities / History + Philosophy + Economics + Politics + Education
Delivery: self-paced asynchronous study
Recommended Load: 1.5-3.5 hrs/week over 4 weeks
Completion Date: 08/31/2014
Description: Part 4 of the ChinaX mini-MOOC series discusses the events leading up to and following the establishment of Neo-Confucianism.
Strengths: During the previous instalments of this series, we learned about the Confucianism and religion. As mentioned above, this instalment discusses the events leading up to the refined school of Neo-Confucianism. This looks at the various policies that Confucian literati hoped to enact, many of which would either fail miserably or were struck down. It is a fascinating look at politics of the era.
Students then learn about Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi, two brothers. Their work, along with that of Zhou Dunyi and Zhang Zai, would later be repackaged into what is now referred to as Neo-Confucianism. It brings together some of the internal aspects sometimes considered by Buddhism with the external in a manner that wasn’t seen in earlier considerations of the writings of Kong Qui, aka Confucius. I found this obvious evolution into the Confucianism that we are now familiar to be rather significant. Simply put, ideas must change over time in order to survive.
Weaknesses: Folks with a dislike of philosophy need not apply.
Conclusion: The ChinaX series does an excellent job of building upon previous events to show how change is ongoing and that events have consequences even hundreds of years down the track. The more that I learn about Confucianism, the greater my fascination with Eastern Philosophy and Philosophy in general. I continue to recommend this series to folks with an interest in history and Asia, but would suggest that anyone with an interest in people in general, as this series is about people and the society in which a person exists.