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East Asian

Socrates in Sichuan: Chinese Students Search for Truth, Justice, and the (Chinese) Way

Peter J. Vernezze.
Publisher Potomac  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
ISBN 9781597976725
Pages/Publication Date 199/2011
Daedalus Item Code 34990
This item is not available.
When philosophy professor Peter Vernezze took a sabbatical to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in China, he also started a weekly philosophical discussion group with students at Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu. They debated the status of truth, the meaning of life, the reality of fate, the definition of sanity, the necessity of religion, and the value of romantic love. This book, a memoir of those encounters, is essentially a crash course in Chinese culture, both ancient and modern. Each of the 25 chapters focuses on one topic of discussion—always in the form of a question—including: How are ancient conceptions of virtue holding up in a society overrun by capitalism? Are traditionally conservative sexual values going the way of the rickshaw? Can an atheistic country even have a sense of morality? This unprecedented portrait of the Chinese mind allows the up-and-coming generation—known as the "ba ling hou," or "post-1980s generation"—to express its unique perspective on China and on its perceptions of America, as students discuss everything from Confucius to the Edison Chen scandal (a Chinese pop star whose sexually explicit pictures found their way onto the Internet), from classical Chinese poetry to the Super Boy and Super Girl competitions (Chinese versions of American Idol). Throughout, the author provides the intellectual and historical context necessary to appreciate and understand today's China.

"In the vein of Bill Holm's Coming Home Crazy, Socrates in Sichuan is a lively introduction to teaching in China and acclimating to the standards of a provincial teacher's college. Vernezze's respect for and interest in his students' opinions allows their voices to fill the pages, making this an educational portrait of a unique seminar."—Michael Meyer

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