Ways of Heaven

An Introduction to Chinese Thought


By Roel Sterckx

Formats and Prices





  1. Hardcover $35.00
  2. ebook $19.99

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 17, 2019. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

A brilliant history of ancient China’s masters of philosophy — and how they help us understand China today
In Ways of Heaven, leading China scholar Roel Sterckx offers an engrossing introduction to classical China’s world of ideas. Drawing on evocative examples from philosophical texts, literature, and everyday life over centuries of Chinese history, Sterckx introduces major thinkers and traditions, illuminates key concepts like the dao, qi, yin, and yang, and examines questions of leadership, social order, death, nature, and more. He also reveals how these ideas shape contemporary China, from table manners at a traditional banquet, to the Chinese obsession with education and family, to the rhetoric of political leaders and the nation’s grand strategy.
Essential reading for students, travelers, businesspeople, and anyone curious about this rising global power, Ways of Heaven shows that to comprehend China today we must learn to think Chinese.
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  • "An outstanding introduction to the world of thought in classical China. Engagingly written and beautifully argued, Ways of Heaven is an invaluable work for anyone interested in exploring the key ideas and concerns that have animated so much of Chinese civilization."
    Michael Puett, authorof The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life
  • "Ever wondered why Chinese have valued ritual more than law, harmony more than personal accomplishment? In this engagingly-written book, Roel Sterckx makes these and other central elements in Chinese thought easy to understand and interesting to think about."
    Patricia B. Ebrey, professor of history, University ofWashington
  • "We have been waiting for this book for too long. For centuries, the real China has been locked in a distant castle by both the western media and Chinese propaganda. If you are curious about the origin of China's yin and yang, if you want to know more about the roots of Chinese philosophy, if you want to know how to do business with the Chinese, if you want to gain insight into Chinese art, or even if you want to understand the mentality of Chinese people, this book will answer these questions for you. Roel Sterckx's book can be the key to opening that Chinese castle's gate, and help you to understand how Chinese life has taken shape from Confucius to the food menus of today."
    XinranXue, author of Sky Burial, The Good Women of China, and ChinaWitness

On Sale
Sep 17, 2019
Page Count
512 pages
Basic Books

Roel Sterckx

About the Author

Roel Sterckx is Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science, and Civilization at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Clare College. The author of several books on early China, he lives in Cambridge, England.

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