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Daniel A. Bell's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Daniel A. Bell recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Daniel A. Bell's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Thinking Through Confucius

Thinking through Confucius critically interprets the conceptual structure underlying Confucius' philosophical reflections. It also investigates "thinking," or "philosophy" from the perspective of Confucius. Perhaps the philosophical question of our time is "what is philosophy". The authors suggest that an examination of the Chinese philosophy may provide an alternative definition of philosophy that can be used to address some of the pressing issues of the Western cultural tradition. This book finds an appropriate language for the interpretation of traditional Chinese philosophical thought --... more
Recommended by Daniel A. Bell, and 1 others.

Daniel A. BellIt provides an account of morality and how to become an exemplary person. (Source)

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Recommended by Daniel A. Bell, and 1 others.

Daniel A. BellIf the ruler pays attention to the uses of music in securing social order, co-operation and harmony, it is ultimately much more effective than using the law. (Source)

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The Complete Text

This is the first complete, one-volume English translation of the ancient Chinese text Xunzi, one of the most extensive, sophisticated, and elegant works in the tradition of Confucian thought. Through essays, poetry, dialogues, and anecdotes, the Xunzi presents a more systematic vision of the Confucian ideal than the fragmented sayings of Confucius and Mencius, articulating a Confucian perspective on ethics, politics, warfare, language, psychology, human nature, ritual, and music, among other topics. Aimed at general readers and students of Chinese thought, Eric Hutton's translation makes the... more
Recommended by Michael Puett, Daniel A. Bell, and 2 others.

Michael PuettXunzi is a self-proclaimed Confucian. This book consists of philosophical essays on specific topics. (Source)

Daniel A. BellHis view of Confucianism was pretty marginalised in theory but in practice it was quite influential throughout imperial Chinese history. (Source)

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With Selections from Traditional Commentaries

Bryan Van Norden's new translation of the Mengzi (Mencius) is accurate, philosophically nuanced, and fluent. Accompanied by selected passages from the classic commentary of Zhu Xi - one of the most influential and insightful interpreters of Confucianism - this edition provides readers with a parallel to the Chinese practice of reading a classic text alongside traditional commentaries. Also included are an Introduction that situates Mengzi and Zhu Xi in their intellectual and social contexts; a glossary of names, places and important terms; a selected bibliography; and an...


Michael PuettHe is clearly seen as brilliant, someone whose philosophy is extraordinarily powerful, and yet the text will—despite having been written by his own disciples—present him as sometimes failing. It’s part of the power of the text that it shows someone trying, on a daily basis, to live up to his own philosophy and, at times, failing to do so, and then learning from that. (Source)

Daniel A. BellMencius believed that we are born good. He had a fairly optimistic view of human nature as well as the view that the government should rely upon informal means of social control rather than harsh punishment as a way of securing social order and harmony. (Source)

Bryan Van NordenMengzi argues that we can actually become better people through various activities, and that a kind of ethical transformation is possible. (Source)

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The Analects

This lively new translation with clear explanatory notes by one of the foremost scholars of classical Chinese provides the ideal introduction to the Analects for readers who have no previous knowledge of the Chinese language and philosophical traditions.

"How dare I claim to be a sage or a benevolent man?"

By constructing the philosophy expressed through The Analects, Confucius might well dare to make such a claim. The Analects are a collection of Confucius' sayings, compiled by his pupils shortly after his death in 497 B.C., and they reflect the extent to...

Michael PuettHe believed one of our dangers is that we fall into ruts that are defined by the world around us. (Source)

Daniel A. BellIt’s not written by Confucius himself. It is more a collection of anecdotes of how he engaged his students. (Source)

Andrew HuiThis edition is really good at showing both the constructed-ness of the original Analects and the vast exegetical machine that has driven the Chinese philosophical tradition through the centuries. (Source)

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