Journal Article

Body and Mind in Early China: An Integrated Humanities–Science Approach

Edward Slingerland

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 81, issue 1, pages 6-55
Published in print March 2013 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online January 2013 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
Body and Mind in Early China: An Integrated Humanities–Science Approach

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This article argues against the strong “holist” position that the early Chinese lacked any concept of mind–body dualism, and more broadly against a “neo-Orientalist” trend that portrays Chinese thought as radically different from Western thought. In the first half, it makes the case against strong mind–body holism by drawing upon traditional archeological and textual evidence. In the second, it turns to resources from the sciences, arguing that large-scale quantitative–qualitative analyses of early Chinese texts suggest that they embrace a quite vigorous form of mind–body dualism, and further that a huge body of evidence coming out of the cognitive sciences suggests that this is not at all surprising. In this section, the role that deep humanistic knowledge can, and should, play in scientific approaches to culture is also explored. The article concludes by suggesting that a mutually informed, humanities–scientific approach to religious studies is the best way for our field to move forward.

Journal Article.  17328 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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