China's take on Plato and Aristotle

Holding up a mirror to the classical tradition

We tend to think of classical philosophers like Plato and Aristotle as the ancestry of Western civilisation. But what happens when their ideas are exposed to a culture with a worldview very distinct from our own? Classicist Shadi Bartsch argues that contemporary Chinese takes on Western classical traditions can tell us as much about our own skewed views as they do about Chinese political culture.


Plato Goes to China is the product of an experiment: take the political and philosophical classics of Greek and Roman antiquity, and see how contemporary Chinese readers react to them. The value of this experiment lies precisely in the fact that tThese are not dead texts, even if they are by dead white men.; Plato, Aristotle, Vergil and others from the ancient world continue to engage withask questions that continue to speak to us in the west, even across time. Tand this is why the Chinese would like to understand them too.

We won’t necessarily appr

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