Background, Writings, and Influence
In this chapter, I offer an overview of Wang Chong’s life, his philosophical background, and the textual history of the Lunheng. The picture I offer here is very general and meant to situate Wang Chong’s work in its historical and philosophical context. This is a book about philosophy and by a philosopher, but I encourage my philosophical audience to read this chapter as well, as it helps explain why Wang wrote and argued as he did, and gives us glimpses into the background that led to the development of his thought. Sinologists will likely find my account here quick and too historically superficial. This is because the nature of my project is philosophical, and although historical issues are certainly important, my aim here is not to engage in historical analysis, but rather to present a clear picture of Wang’s life and intellectual milieu. This may give us insight into his philosophical views.