This chapter considers in greater detail some of the themes raised in the book. This includes the active role that the four great Chinese cultural traditions (warfare, agriculture, medicine, and art) played in creating a distinctive conception of ‘wisdom’ in China. Historical consciousness is central to such wisdom, and this informed a form of pragmatic reasoning in which historical experience merged with feelings generated through the family and human social relations.

Another characteristic of Chinese wisdom is ‘to penetrate and assimilate’ (tonger tongzhi通而同 之) or to seek homogenization. External things are accommodated, absorbed, and assimilated, thereby expanding the self and an intellectual tradition. The final characteristic is a culture characterized by a sensitivity to delight (legan wenhua樂感文化). Chinese wisdom also prizes aesthetic appreciation. It was the aesthetic, and not the religious, that characterized the highest human realm in Chinese thought.