Bryan W. Van Norden


I am a Professor in the Philosophy Department and also teach in the Department of Chinese & Japanese at Vassar College.  I am a former Chair of each of these departments, and was also a Guest Professor in the School of Philosophy of Wuhan University in 2014.


To find out more about me, you can look at my curriculum vitae (resume).  You may also want to read some things I have written:


·       Bibliography of Essential Readings on Chinese Philosophy NEW!

·       "Confucius on Gay Marriage" NEW!

·       Five Colossal Events that Changed China ForeverNEW!

·       "The Bone that Changed China" NEW!

·       My Articles and Book Reviews on NEW!

·       "Sample Syllabus for a 13-week Course on Classical Chinese Philosophy"

·       Sample Syllabus for a 13-week Course on Later Chinese Philosophy


I am married to a wonderful woman, and have two terrific children.  My favorite hobby is poker.



Reading Guides


·       A Guide to Reading Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chapters VI, VII and X)

·       A Guide to Reading the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas (Treatise on Happiness)

·       A Guide to Reading the Puppet Play Version of Chushingura

·       A Guide to Viewing Inagaki’s Film Version of Chushingura

·       A Guide to Reading The Tale of Genji

·       Tale of Genji Genealogical Chart (Chapters 1-14)

·       A Guide to Reading Three Kingdoms (Romance of the Three Kingdoms)

·       A Guide to Reading Story of the Stone (Dream of the Red Chamber)

·       A Guide to Viewing The Last Emperor

·       A Guide to the Characters in Tokyo Story



Other Handouts


·       Techniques for Writing Better Essays

·       What Is Relativism?

·       Handout on Kant’s Ethics

·       Handout on Bentham and Mill

·       Notes on D.C. Lau’s translation of the Mencius

·       The Evolution of Japanese Poetry

·       Bibliography on Chinese Philosophy

·       B.W. Van Norden, Classical Chinese for Everyone (unpublished textbook)



Why Major in Philosophy?


·       A Sampling of Famous People Who Majored in Philosophy

·       Philosophy Majors Score Better on the GRE than Other Majors



A Few Philosophy Memes


·       Justin Bieber and Philosophy

·       Dr. Evil on Philosophy

·       The Evil Emperor on Philosophy

·       Father Ted on Philosophy

·       Philosoraptor on Philosophy

·       Morpheus on Philosophy

·       Talk to Your Kids about Philosophy...




Courses I Often Teach


·       Philosophy 105: Philosophical Questions (taught by me every few years).

·       Philosophy 110: Early Chinese Philosophy (taught every fall).

·       Philosophy 210: Neo-Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism (taught every spring).

·       Philosophy 350: Modernism, Postmodernism, and Hermeneutics (taught every year).

·       Chinese-Japanese 120:  Introduction to Chinese and Japanese Literature (taught every year).

·       Chinese 360:  Introduction to Classical Chinese (taught every other year).


Books I Have Published


·       Co-editor (with Justin Tiwald) and contributor, Readings in Later Chinese Philosophy (Indianapolis:  Hackett Publishing, 2014).

·       Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy (Indianapolis:  Hackett Publishing, 2011).

·       Translator, The Essential Mengzi:  Selected Passages with Traditional Commentary (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2009).

·       Translator, Mengzi:  With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Indianapolis:  Hackett Publishing, 2008).

·       Virtue Ethics and Consequentialism in Early Chinese Philosophy (New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2007).

·       Co-editor (with Philip J. Ivanhoe) and contributor, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, 2nd ed. (Indianapolis:  Hackett Publishing, 2005).

·       Editor and contributor, Confucius and the Analects:  New Essays (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2002).

·       Editor, The Ways of Confucianism by David S. Nivison (Chicago:  Open Court Press, 1996).





Some Books I Frequently Assign or Recommend


·       Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, trans. Nobuyuki Yuasa (Penguin Books).

·       Cao Xueqin, Story of the Stone, vol. 1: The Golden Days, trans. David Hawkes (Penguin Books).

·       Gardner, Daniel K., trans., Chu Hsi, Learning to Be a Sage (University of California Press).

·       Ivanhoe, Philip J., trans., Readings from the Lu-Wang School of Neo-Confucianism (Hackett Publishing).

·       Li Yu, Carnal Prayar Mat, trans. Patrick Hanan (University of Hawaii Press).

·       Liang Shih-ch'iu, Far East Chinese-English Dictionary (Cheng & Tsui).

·       Luo Guanzhong, Three Kingdoms (abridged), trans. Moss Roberts (University of California Press).

·       Mishima, Yukio, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, trans. John Nathan (Vintage Books).

·       Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji (abridged), trans. Edward Seidensticker (Vintage Books).

·       Nhat Hanh, Thich, The Heart of Understanding (Parallax Press).

·       Pulleyblank, Edwin, Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar (University of Washington Press).

·       Slingerland, Edward, trans., Confucius: Analects (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing).

·       Teng Shou-hsin, ed., Far East 3000 Chinese Character Dictionary (Far East Book Company).


Last revised August 6, 2015.