A SHORT history of any subject should not simply be an abridgement of a larger one. It should be a picture complete in itself, rather than a mere inventory of names and "isms.' To achieve this, the author should, as a Chinese expression says, "have the whole history in his mind. Only then can he give the reader an adequate and well-rounded account within his chosen limited scope.
According to Chinese historiography, a good historian must have wide scholarship in order to master all his materials, sound judgment to make proper selection of them, and literary talent in order to tell his story in an interesting way. In writing a short history, intended for a general public, the author certainly has less chance to display his scholarship, but he needs more selective judgment and literary talent than he would for writing a longer and strictly scholarly work.
In preparing this work, I have tried to use my best judgment in selecting what I consider important and relevant from materials which I have mastered. I was very fortunate, however, to have as editor Dr. Derk Bodde, who has used his literary talent to make the style of the book interesting, read-able, and comprehensible to the Western reader. He has also made suggestions regarding the selection and arrangement of the material.
Being a short history, this book serves as no more than an introduction to the study of Chinese philosophy. If the reader wishes to know more about the subject, I would refer him to my larger work, A History of Chinese Philosophy. The first volume of this has been translated by Dr. Bodde, and he is now translating the second one; also to my more recent work, The Spirit of Chinese Philosophy, translated by Mr. E. R. Hughes of Oxford University. Both works are mentioned in the bibliography compiled by Dr. Bodde at the end of the present book. Acknowledgements are due to both Dr. Bodde and Mr. Hughes, from whose books I have borrowed some translations of the Chinese texts...