Neo-Confucianism

Neo-Confucianism (Chinese: 宋明理學; pinyin: Sòng-Míng lǐxué, often shortened to lixue 理學) is a moral, ethical, and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (772–841) in the Tang Dynasty, and became prominent during the Song and Ming dynasties.

Neo-Confucianism could have been an attempt to create a more rationalist and secular form of Confucianism by rejecting superstitious and mystical elements of Taoism and Buddhism that had influenced Confucianism during and after the Han Dynasty.[1] Although the neo-Confucianists were critical of Taoism and Buddhism, the two did have an influence on the philosophy, and the neo-Confucianists borrowed terms and concepts. However, unlike the Buddhists and Taoists, who saw metaphysics as a catalyst for spiritual development, religious enlightenment, and immortality, the neo-Confucanists used metaphysics as a guide for developing a rationalist ethical philosophy.[2][3]

Neo-Confucianism
Traditional Chinese宋明理學
Simplified Chinese宋明理学
Literal meaning"Song-Ming [dynasty] rational idealism"

Origins

庐山白鹿洞书院周敦颐铜像
Bronze statue of Zhou Dunyi(周敦颐) in White Deer Grotto Academy(白鹿洞書院)

Neo-Confucianism has its origins in the Tang Dynasty; the Confucianist scholars Han Yu and Li Ao are seen as forebears of the neo-Confucianists of the Song Dynasty.[2] The Song Dynasty philosopher Zhou Dunyi (1017–1073) is seen as the first true "pioneer" of neo-Confucianism, using Daoist metaphysics as a framework for his ethical philosophy.[3] Neo-Confucianism developed both as a renaissance of traditional Confucian ideas, and as a reaction to the ideas of Buddhism and religious Daoism. Although the neo-Confucianists denounced Buddhist metaphysics, neo-Confucianism did borrow Daoist and Buddhist terminology and concepts.[2]

One of the most important exponents of neo-Confucianism was Zhu Xi (1130–1200). He was a rather prolific writer, maintaining and defending his Confucian beliefs of social harmony and proper personal conduct. One of his most remembered was the book Family Rituals, where he provided detailed advice on how to conduct weddings, funerals, family ceremonies, and the veneration of ancestors. Buddhist thought soon attracted him, and he began to argue in Confucian style for the Buddhist observance of high moral standards. He also believed that it was important to practical affairs that one should engage in both academic and philosophical pursuits, although his writings are concentrated more on issues of theoretical (as opposed to practical) significance. It is reputed that he wrote many essays attempting to explain how his ideas were not Buddhist or Taoist, and included some heated denunciations of Buddhism and Taoism.

After the Xining era (1070), Wang Yangming (1472–1529) is commonly regarded as the most important neo-Confucian thinker. Wang's interpretation of Confucianism denied the rationalist dualism of Zhu's orthodox philosophy.

There were many competing views within the neo-Confucian community, but overall, a system emerged that resembled both Buddhist and Taoist (Daoist) thought of the time and some of the ideas expressed in the I Ching (Book of Changes) as well as other yin yang theories associated with the Taiji symbol (Taijitu). A well known neo-Confucian motif is paintings of Confucius, Buddha, and Lao Tzu all drinking out of the same vinegar jar, paintings associated with the slogan "The three teachings are one!"

While neo-Confucianism incorporated Buddhist and Taoist ideas, many neo-Confucianists strongly opposed Buddhism and Taoism. Indeed, they rejected the Buddhist and Taoist religions. One of Han Yu's most famous essays decries the worship of Buddhist relics. Nonetheless, neo-Confucian writings adapted Buddhist thoughts and beliefs to the Confucian interest. In China neo-Confucianism was an officially recognized creed from its development during the Song dynasty until the early twentieth century, and lands in the sphere of Song China (Vietnam and Japan) were all deeply influenced by neo-Confucianism for more than half a millennium.

Philosophy

Neo-Confucianism is a social and ethical philosophy using metaphysical ideas, some borrowed from Taoism, as its framework. The philosophy can be characterized as humanistic and rationalistic, with the belief that the universe could be understood through human reason, and that it was up to humanity to create a harmonious relationship between the universe and the individual.[4]

The rationalism of neo-Confucianism is in contrast to the mysticism of the previously dominant Chan Buddhism. Unlike the Buddhists, the neo-Confucians believed that reality existed, and could be understood by humankind, even if the interpretations of reality were slightly different depending on the school of neo-Confucianism.[4]

But the spirit of Neo-Confucian rationalism is diametrically opposed to that of Buddhist mysticism. Whereas Buddhism insisted on the unreality of things, Neo-Confucianism stressed their reality. Buddhism and Taoism asserted that existence came out of, and returned to, non-existence; Neo-Confucianism regarded reality as a gradual realization of the Great Ultimate... Buddhists, and to some degree, Taoists as well, relied on meditation and insight to achieve supreme reason; the Neo-Confucianists chose to follow Reason.[5]

The importance of li in Neo-Confucianism gave the movement its Chinese name, literally "The study of Li."

Schools

Neo-Confucianism was a heterogeneous philosophical tradition, and is generally categorized into two different schools.

Two-school model vs. three-school model

In medieval China, the mainstream of neo-Confucian thought, dubbed the "Tao school", had long categorized a thinker named Lu Jiuyuan among the unorthodox, non-Confucian writers. However, in the 15th century, the esteemed philosopher Wang Yangming took sides with Lu and critiqued some of the foundations of the Tao school, albeit not rejecting the school entirely.[6] Objections arose to Yangming's philosophy within his lifetime, and shortly after his death, Chen Jian (1497–1567) grouped Wang together with Lu as unorthodox writers, dividing neo-Confucianism into two schools.[7] As a result, neo-Confucianism today is generally categorized into two different schools of thought. The school that remained dominant throughout the medieval and early modern periods is called the Cheng-Zhu school for the esteem it places in Cheng Yi, Cheng Hao, and Zhu Xi. The less dominant, opposing school was the Lu–Wang school, based on its esteem for Lu Jiuyuan and Wang Yangming.

In contrast to this two-branch model, the New Confucian Mou Zongsan argues that there existed a third branch of learning, the Hu-Liu school, based on the teachings of Hu Hong (Hu Wufeng, 1106–61) and Liu Zongzhou (Liu Jishan, 1578–1645). The significance of this third branch, according to Mou, was that they represented the direct lineage of the pioneers of neo-Confucianism, Zhou Dunyi, Zhang Zai and Cheng Hao. Moreover, this third Hu-Liu school and the second Lu–Wang school, combined, form the true mainstream of neo-Confucianism instead of the Cheng-Zhu school. The mainstream represented a return to the teachings of Confucius, Mengzi, the Doctrine of the Mean and the Commentaries of the Book of Changes. The Cheng-Zhu school was therefore only a minority branch based on the Great Learning and mistakenly emphasized intellectual studies over the study of sagehood.[8]

Cheng-Zhu school

Zhu Xi's formulation of the neo-Confucian world view is as follows. He believed that the Tao (Chinese: ; pinyin: dào; literally: 'way') of Tian (Chinese: ; pinyin: tiān; literally: 'heaven') is expressed in principle or li (Chinese: ; pinyin: ), but that it is sheathed in matter or qi (Chinese: ; pinyin: ). In this, his system is based on Buddhist systems of the time that divided things into principle (again, li), and function (Chinese: ; pinyin: shì). In the neo-Confucian formulation, li in itself is pure and almost-perfect, but with the addition of qi, base emotions and conflicts arise. Human nature is originally good, the neo-Confucians argued (following Mencius), but not pure unless action is taken to purify it. The imperative is then to purify one's li. However, in contrast to Buddhists and Taoists, neo-Confucians did not believe in an external world unconnected with the world of matter. In addition, neo-Confucians in general rejected the idea of reincarnation and the associated idea of karma.

Different neo-Confucians had differing ideas for how to do so. Zhu Xi believed in gewu (Chinese: 格物; pinyin: géwù), the Investigation of Things, essentially an academic form of observational science, based on the idea that li lies within the world.

Lu–Wang school

Wang Yangming (Wang Shouren), probably the second most influential neo-Confucian, came to another conclusion: namely, that if li is in all things, and li is in one's heart-mind, there is no better place to seek than within oneself. His preferred method of doing so was jingzuo (Chinese: 靜坐; pinyin: jìngzuò; literally: 'quiet sitting'), a practice that strongly resembles zazen or Chan (Zen) meditation. Wang Yangming developed the idea of innate knowing, arguing that every person knows from birth the difference between good and evil. Such knowledge is intuitive and not rational. These revolutionizing ideas of Wang Yangming would later inspire prominent Japanese thinkers like Motoori Norinaga, who argued that because of the Shinto deities, Japanese people alone had the intuitive ability to distinguish good and evil without complex rationalization. Wang Yangming's school of thought (Ōyōmei-gaku in Japanese) also provided, in part, an ideological basis for some samurai who sought to pursue action based on intuition rather than scholasticism. As such, it also provided an intellectual foundation for the radical political actions of low ranking samurai in the decades prior to the Meiji Ishin (1868), in which the Tokugawa authority (1600–1868) was overthrown.

Neo-Confucianism in Korea

In Joseon Korea, neo-Confucianism was established as the state ideology. The Yuan occupation of the Korean peninsula introduced Zhu Xi's school of neo-Confucianism to Korea.[9] Neo-Confucianism was introduced to Korea by An Hyang during Goryeo dynasty. At the time that An Hyang introduced neo-Confucianism, the Goryeo dynasty was in the last century of its existence and influenced by the Mongol Yuan dynasty.

Many Korean scholars visited China during the Yuan dynasty and An Hyang was among them. In 1286, he happened to read a book of Zhu Xi in Yanjing. He was so moved by this book that he transcribed this book in its entirety and came back to Korea with his transcribed copy. It greatly inspired Korean intellectuals at the time and many, predominantly from the middle class and disillusioned with the excesses of organized religion (in the form of Buddhism) and the old nobility, embraced neo-Confucianism. The newly rising neo-Confucian intellectuals were leading groups aimed at the overthrow of the old (and increasingly foreign-influenced) Goryeo dynasty.

Cho Kwang-jo in 1750
Portrait of Jo Gwang-jo

After the fall of the Goryeo dynasty and the establishment of the Joseon Dynasty by Yi Song-gye in 1392 AD, neo-Confucianism was installed as the new dynasty's state ideology. Buddhism, and organized religion in general was considered poisonous to the neo-Confucian order. Buddhism was accordingly restricted and occasionally persecuted by the new dynasty. As neo-Confucianism encouraged education, there were a number of neo-Confucian schools (서원 seowon and 향교 hyanggyo) founded throughout the country. Such schools produced many neo-Confucian scholars, including individuals such as Jo Gwang-jo (조광조, 趙光祖; 1482–1520), Yi Hwang (이황, 李滉; pen name Toegye 퇴계, 退溪; 1501–1570) and Yi I (이이, 李珥; 1536–1584).

In the early 16th century, Jo Gwang-jo attempted to transform Joseon into the ideal neo-Confucian society with a series of radical reforms until he was executed in 1520. Despite the failure of his attempted reforms, neo-Confucianism soon assumed an even greater role in the Joseon Dynasty. Soon Korean neo-Confucian scholars, no longer content to only read and remember the Chinese original precepts, began to develop new neo-Confucian theories. Yi Hwang and Yi I were the most prominent of these new theorists. Yi Hwang's most prominent disciples were Kim Seong-il (金誠一, 1538–1593), Yu Seong-ryong (柳成龍 1542–1607)and Jeong Gu (한강 정구, 寒岡 鄭逑, 1543—1620), known as the "three heroes". These were followed by a second generation of scholars which included Jang Hyungwang (張顯光, 1554—1637) and Jang Heung-Hyo (敬堂 張興孝, 1564—1633), and by a third generation (including Heo Mok, Yun Hyu, Yun Seon-do, Song Si-yeol) which brought the school into the 18th century [10]

But neo-Confucianism in the Joseon Dynasty became so dogmatic in a relatively rapid time that it prevented much needed socio-economic development and change, and led to internal divisions and criticism of many new theories, regardless of their popular appeal. For instance, Wang Yangming's theories, which were popular in the Chinese Ming Dynasty, were regarded as heresy and severely condemned by Korean neo-Confucianists. Furthermore, any annotations on Confucian canon which are different from Zhu Xi were excluded. During the Joseon Dynasty, the newly emerging ruling class, called Sarim(사림, 士林), also became divided into political factions according to their diversity of neo-Confucian views on politics. There were two large factions and many subfactions.

During the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598), many Korean neo-Confucian books and scholars were taken to Japan. They influenced Japanese scholars such as Fujiwara Seika and affected the development of Japanese neo-Confucianism.

Bureaucratic examinations

Neo-Confucianism became the interpretation of Confucianism whose mastery was necessary to pass the bureaucratic examinations by the Ming, and continued in this way through the Qing dynasty until the end of the Imperial examination system in 1905. However, many scholars such as Benjamin Elman have questioned the degree to which their role as the orthodox interpretation in state examinations reflects the degree to which both the bureaucrats and Chinese gentry actually believed those interpretations, and point out that there were very active schools such as Han learning which offered competing interpretations of Confucianism.

The competing school of Confucianism was called the Evidential School or Han Learning and argued that neo-Confucianism had caused the teachings of Confucianism to be hopelessly contaminated with Buddhist thinking. This school also criticized neo-Confucianism for being overly concerned with empty philosophical speculation that was unconnected with reality.

Confucian canon

The Confucian canon as it exists today was essentially compiled by Zhu Xi. Zhu codified the canon of Four Books (the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Analects of Confucius, and the Mencius) which in the subsequent Ming and Qing Dynasties were made the core of the official curriculum for the civil service examinations.

New Confucianism

In the 1920s, New Confucianism, also known as modern neo-Confucianism, started developing and absorbed the Western learning to seek a way to modernize Chinese culture based on the traditional Confucianism. It centers on four topics: The modern transformation of Chinese culture; Humanistic spirit of Chinese culture; Religious connotation in Chinese culture; Intuitive way of thinking, to go beyond the logic and to wipe out the concept of exclusion analysis. Adhering to the traditional Confucianism and the neo-confucianism, the modern neo-Confucianism contributes the nation's emerging from the predicament faced by the ancient Chinese traditional culture in the process of modernization; Furthermore, it also promotes the world culture of industrial civilization rather than the traditional personal senses.[11]

Prominent neo-Confucian scholars

China

Korea

Japan

Vietnam

Notes

  1. ^ Blocker, H. Gene; Starling, Christopher L. (2001). Japanese Philosophy. SUNY Press. p. 64.
  2. ^ a b c Huang 1999, p. 5.
  3. ^ a b Chan 2002, p. 460.
  4. ^ a b Craig 1998, p. 552.
  5. ^ Chan 1946, p. 268
  6. ^ Wilson, Thomas A. (1995). Genealogy of the way: the construction and uses of the Confucian tradition in late imperial China. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Univ. Press. pp. 168–9. ISBN 9780804724258.
  7. ^ Bary, Wm. Theodore de (1989). The message of the mind in Neo-Confucianism. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 94–5. ISBN 0231068085.
  8. ^ Yao, Xinzhong (2000). An Introduction to Confucianism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 259. ISBN 978-0-521-64430-3.
  9. ^ Paragraph 12 in Emanuel Pastreich "The Reception of Chinese Literature in Korea", chapter 53 in Mair 2001.
  10. ^ 【李甦平】 Lisu Ping, 论韩国儒学的特点和精神 "On the characteristics and spirit of Korean Confucianism", 《孔子研究》2008年1期 (Confucius Studies 2008.1). See also List of Korean philosophers.
  11. ^ http://baike.baidu.com/view/2053255.htm

References

External links

Cheng Yi (philosopher)

Cheng Yi (simplified Chinese: 程颐; traditional Chinese: 程頤; pinyin: Chéng Yí; Wade–Giles: Ch'eng I, 1033–1107), courtesy name Zhengshu (正叔), also known as Yichuan Xiansheng (伊川先生), was a Chinese philosopher of the Song Dynasty. He worked with his older brother Cheng Hao. Like his brother, he was a student of Zhou Dunyi, a friend of Shao Yong, and a nephew of Zhang Zai. The five of them along with Sima Guang are called the Six Great Masters by his follower Zhu Xi. He became a prominent figure in neo-Confucianism, and the philosophy of Cheng Yi, Cheng Hao and Zhu Xi is referred to as the Cheng–Zhu school or the Rationalistic School.

Cheng–Zhu school

The Cheng–Zhu school (Chinese: 程朱理學; pinyin: Chéng Zhū lĭxué), is one of the major philosophical schools of Neo-Confucianism, based on the ideas of the Neo-Confucian philosophers Cheng Yi, Cheng Hao, and Zhu Xi. It is also referred to as the Rationalistic School.Zhu Xi's formulation of the Neo-Confucian world view is as follows. He believed that the Dao (Chinese: 道; pinyin: dào; literally "way") of Tian (Chinese: 天; pinyin: tiān; literally "heaven") is expressed in principle or li (Chinese: 理; pinyin: lǐ), but that it is sheathed in matter or qi (Chinese: 氣; pinyin: qì). In this, his system is based on Buddhist systems of the time that divided things into principle (again, li), and shi (Chinese: 事; pinyin: shì). In the Neo-Confucian formulation, li in itself is pure and almost-perfect, but with the addition of qi, base emotions and conflicts arise. Human nature is originally good, the Neo-Confucians argued (following Mencius), but not pure unless action is taken to purify it. The imperative is then to purify one's li. However, in contrast to Buddhists and Daoists, neo-Confucians did not believe in an external world unconnected with the world of matter. In addition, Neo-Confucians in general rejected the idea of reincarnation and the associated idea of karma.

Different Neo-Confucians had differing ideas for how to do so. Zhu Xi believed in gewu (Chinese: 格物; pinyin: géwù), the Investigation of Things, essentially an academic form of observational science, based on the idea that li lies within the world.

Chinese philosophy

Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begins in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years; some can be found in the Yi Jing (the Book of Changes), an ancient compendium of divination, which dates back to at least 672 BCE. It was during the Warring States era that what Sima Tan termed the major philosophical schools of China: Confucianism, Legalism, and Taoism, arose, along with philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Mohism, Chinese Naturalism, and the Logicians.

Edo neo-Confucianism

Edo Neo-Confucianism, known in Japanese as Shushi-Gaku (朱子学, shushigaku), refers to the schools of Neo-Confucian philosophy that developed in Japan during the Edo period. Neo-Confucianism reached Japan during the Kamakura period. The philosophy can be characterized as humanistic and rationalistic, with the belief that the universe could be understood through human reason, and that it was up to man to create a harmonious relationship between the universe and the individual. The 17th-century Tokugawa shogunate adopted Neo-Confucianism as the principle of controlling people and Confucian philosophy took hold. Neo-Confucians such as Hayashi Razan and Arai Hakuseki were instrumental in the formulation of Japan's dominant early modern political philosophy.

Gim Seokju

Gim Seokju (Korean: 김석주, hanja: 金錫冑, 1634 – September 20, 1684) was one of the Neo-Confucian scholars, politicians and writers of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. His nickname was Sigam (식암, 息庵), a courtesy name was Sabaek (사백, 斯百). He was a cousin of Queen Myunseong. He was prime minister of the Joseon Dynasty in 1680.

Gwon Geun

Gwon Geun (1352–1409) was a Korean Neo-Confucian scholar at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty, and a student of Yi Saek. He was one of the first Neo-Confucian scholars of the Joseon dynasty, and had a lasting influence on the rise of Neo-Confucianism in Korea.

Huang Zongxi

Huang Zongxi (Chinese: 黃宗羲; September 24, 1610 – August 12, 1695), courtesy name Taichong (太冲), was a Chinese naturalist, political theorist, philosopher, and soldier during the latter part of the Ming dynasty into the early part the Qing.

Korean Confucianism

Korean Confucianism is the form of Confucianism that emerged and developed in Korea. One of the most substantial influences in Korean intellectual history was the introduction of Confucian thought as part of the cultural influence from China. Today the legacy of Confucianism remains a fundamental part of Korean society, shaping the moral system, the way of life, social relations between old and young, high culture, and is the basis for much of the legal system. Confucianism in Korea is sometimes considered a pragmatic way of holding a nation together without the civil wars and internal dissent that were inherited from the Goryeo dynasty.

Korean philosophy

Korean philosophy focused on a totality of world view. Some aspects of Shamanism, Buddhism, and Neo-Confucianism were integrated into Korean philosophy. Traditional Korean thought has been influenced by a number of religious and philosophical thought-systems over the years. As the main influences on life in Korea, often Korean Shamanism, Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Silhak movements have shaped Korean life and thought.

Li (neo-Confucianism)

Li (理, pinyin lǐ)is a concept found in neo-Confucian Chinese philosophy.

It refers to the underlying reason and order of nature as reflected in its organic forms.

It may be translated as "rational principle" or "law." It was central to Zhu Xi's integration of Buddhism into Confucianism. Zhu Xi held that li, together with qi (氣: vital, material force), depend on each other to create structures of nature and matter. The sum of li is the Taiji.

This idea resembles the Buddhist notion of li, which also means "principle." Zhu Xi maintained, however, that his notion is found in I Ching (Book of Changes), a classic source of Chinese philosophy.

Zhu Xi's school came to be known as the School of Li, which is comparable to rationalism. To an even greater extent than Confucius, Zhu Xi had a naturalistic world-view. His world-view contained two primary ideas: qi and li. Zhu Xi further believed that the conduct of the two of these took places according to Tai Ji.

Holding to Confucius and Mencius' conception of humanity as innately good, Zhu Xi articulated an understanding of li as the basic pattern of the universe, stating that it was understood that one couldn't live without li and live an exemplary life. In this sense, li according to Zhu Xi is often seen as similar to the Dao in Daoism or to telos in Greek philosophy and also to the Dharma in Hinduism. Wang Yangming, a philosopher who opposed Zhu Xi's ideas, held that li was to be found not in the world but within oneself. Wang Yangming was thus more of an idealist with a different epistemic approach.

List of Chinese philosophers

This article is a list of Chinese philosophers.

Lu Jiuyuan

Lu Jiuyuan (Chinese: 陸九淵; pinyin: Lù Jiǔyuān; 1139–1192), or Lu Xiangshan (陸象山; Lù Xiàngshān), was a Chinese philosopher and writer who founded the school of the universal mind, the second most influential Neo-Confucian school. He was a contemporary and the main rival of Zhu Xi.

In China, Japan, and Western countries, he is known by his honorific name rather than his private name.

New Confucianism

New Confucianism (Chinese: 新儒家; pinyin: xīn rú jiā; literally: 'new Confucianism') is an intellectual movement of Confucianism that began in the early 20th century in Republican China, and further developed in post-Mao era contemporary China. It is deeply influenced by, but not identical with, the neo-Confucianism of the Song and Ming dynasties. It is a neo-conservative movement of various Chinese traditions and has been regarded as containing religious overtones; it advocates for certain Confucianist elements of society – such social, ecological, and political harmony – to be applied in a contemporary context in synthesis with Western philosophies such as rationalism and humanism. Its philosophies have emerged as a focal point of discussion between Confucian scholars in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United States.

Qing (concept)

In Chinese philosophy, qing (情) is a concept translated variously as "reality", "feelings," "genuine", "essence", "disposition", or "emotion". Neo-Confucians understand qing as products of environmental circumstances affecting xing, or innate human nature. This interpretation of qing as an emotional or dispositional concept, especially as connected to xing, arose after the Warring States period. A broader, or at least earlier, Confucian interpretation would be the behavioral quality of a person given their context. For Confucians, who emphasized cultivation of ren (humaneness), li (ritual propriety), and yi (righteousness) to build de, or virtuous moral character.

Shao Yong

Shao Yong (Chinese: 邵雍; pinyin: Shào Yōng; Wade–Giles: Shao Yung; 1011–1077), courtesy name Yaofu (堯夫), named Shào Kāngjié (邵康節) after death, was a Song dynasty Chinese philosopher, cosmologist, poet and historian who greatly influenced the development of Neo-Confucianism in China.

Shao is considered one of the most learned men of his time. Unlike most men of such stature in his society, Shao avoided governmental positions his entire life, but his influence was no less substantial. He wrote an influential treatise on cosmogony, the Huangji Jingshi (皇極經世, Book of supreme world ordering principles).

Ti (concept)

Ti (simplified Chinese: 体; traditional Chinese: 體; pinyin: tǐ; Wade–Giles: t'i) is the Chinese word for substance or body. The philosopher Zhang Zai described the ti as "that which is never absent, that is, through all transformations."In Neo-Confucianism, this concept is often associated with yong, which means "use" or "function." Such function or how the yong of a thing is its activity or its response when stimulated underscores the link. Like the concepts of nei-wai (inner-outer) and ben-mo (root-branch), ti-yong is central to Chinese metaphysics. The link was adopted in order to manifest the actual meaning of the two truths and the relationship between them.

Wang Yangming

Wang Shouren (26 October 1472 – 9 January 1529), courtesy name Bo'an, was a Chinese idealist Neo-Confucian philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general during the Ming dynasty. After Zhu Xi, he is commonly regarded as the most important Neo-Confucian thinker, with interpretations of Confucianism that denied the rationalist dualism of the orthodox philosophy of Zhu Xi. Wang was known as Yangming Xiansheng and/or Yangming Zi in literary circles: both mean "Master Yangming".

In China, Japan, and Western countries, he is known by his honorific name rather than his private name.

Yangmingism

Yangmingism, known in Mandarin as Yángmíngxué (陽明學) and in Japanese as Yōmeigaku (陽明学), is one of the major philosophical schools of Neo-Confucianism, based on the ideas of the idealist Neo-Confucian philosopher Wang Yangming. Yangmingism developed as the main intellectual opposition to the Cheng-Zhu school of Neo-Confucianism. The school is considered part of the School of Mind, established by Lu Jiuyuan. Yangmingism emphasizes that, one can get the supreme principle (理) from his/her heart, without seeking outside. Furthermore, Yangmingism posits a oneness of action and knowledge in relation to one's concepts of morality. In essence, this is the idea that one's conceptualization of good and evil are irrelevant if one does not, in reality, act in accordance with it: "to know and not to act is not to know". Naturally, this extended to the political sphere, and, through incorporation into Mitogaku thought, a violent form of Yangmingism became an influence on the incipient anti-foreigner movement in 19th century Japan. In the 20th century, Japanese author and nationalist Yukio Mishima examined Yangmingism as an integral part of the ideologies behind the Meiji Restoration as well as further samurai resistance, in particular the Shinpūren rebellion.

Zhou Dunyi

Zhou Dunyi (Chinese: 周敦頤; Wade–Giles: Chou Tun-i; 1017–1073) was a Song dynasty Chinese Neo-Confucian philosopher and cosmologist born during the Song Dynasty. He conceptualized the Neo-Confucian cosmology of the day, explaining the relationship between human conduct and universal forces. In this way, he emphasizes that humans can master their qi ("vital life energy") in order to accord with nature. He was a major influence to Zhu Xi, who was the architect of Neo-Confucianism. Zhou Dunyi was mainly concerned with Taiji (supreme polarity) and Wuji (limitless potential), the yin and yang, and the wu xing (the five phases). He is also venerated and credited in Taoism as the first philosopher to popularize the concept of the taijitu or "yin-yang symbol".

Transcriptions
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinSòng-Míng lǐxué
Gwoyeu RomatzyhSonq-Ming liishyue
Wade–GilesSung4-Ming2 li3-hsüeh2
IPA[sʊ̂ŋ mǐŋ lìɕɥě]
Yue: Cantonese
Yale RomanizationSung-Mìhng léih-hohk
JyutpingSung3-Ming4 lei5-hok6
Southern Min
Tâi-lôSòng-Bîng lí-ha̍k
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