Heaven and Earth Are Not Humane

Heaven and Earth Are Not Humane

The Problem of Evil in Classical Chinese Philosophy
Franklin Perkins
Distribution: World
Publication date: 5/23/2014
ISBN: 978-0-253-01176-3
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That bad things happen to good people was as true in early China as it is today. Franklin Perkins uses this observation as the thread by which to trace the effort by Chinese thinkers of the Warring States Period (c.475-221 BCE), a time of great conflict and division, to seek reconciliation between humankind and the world. Perkins provides rich new readings of classical Chinese texts and reflects on their significance for Western philosophical discourse.

Author Bio

Franklin Perkins is Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University. He is author of Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light and Leibniz: A Guide for the Perplexed.


"Much of the richness of the book lies in its strikingly original readings of familiar texts, and the deeply attentive analysis of key problems in these texts that are illuminated by reading them in relation to Chinese 'problems of evil." —Aaron D. Stalnaker, Indiana University Bloomington

"Perkins provides original, important, and fully convincing readings of the classical Chinese texts. Moreover, given the comparative focus, it is one of those rare works on classical materials that will excite significant interest among scholars of Western philosophy and intellectual history as well. . . . Beautifully written, highly engaging, and extremely well argued." —Michael Puett, Harvard University

"[T]his book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of early Chinese philosophy." —
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"[This] book deserves to be read by students of Chinese philosophy . . . ." —Heythrop Journal

"[This] is a genuine contribution to the field of Chinese philosophy. By engaging in a kind of 'rooted global philosophy,' Franklin Perkins addresses issues inherent to early Chinese texts in a way that renders them meaningful for contemporary philosophers. Perkins facilitates a cross-cultural dialogue between those in early China and those concerned with the problem of evil in European history. In doing this, Perkins not only demonstrates a grasp of the major primary texts and the relevant secondary literature, but he also demonstrates a breadth of knowledge that extends into conemporary Chinese thought, as well as into recently unearthed Chinese manuscripts and countless figures in the Western philosophical tradition." —Frontiers of Philosophy in China

"It is clear that the discussions in Heaven and Earth will have a major impact on scholarship in the field. While ostensibly about good and evil, its investigations traverse a range of areas including Chinese intellectual history, philosophy, ethics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of action, and political philosophy." —Dao: Journal of Comparative Philosophy

"The problem of evil . . . is a stimulating and challenging philosophical issue from which one can

develop an inspiring comparative analysis that can benefit both Western and Chinese philosophy. This is exactly what Perkins does in this book." —
Philosophy East and West

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Table of Contents

Note on Abbreviated Citations
Introduction: Philosophy in a Cross-Cultural Context
1. Formations of the Problem of Evil
2. The Efficacy of Human Action and the Mohist Opposition to Fate
3. Efficacy and Following Nature in the Dàodéjīng
4. Reproaching Heaven and Serving Heaven in the Mèngzĭ
5. Beyond the Human in the Zhuāngĭ
6. Xúnzĭ and the Fragility of the Human