Born Jan. 19. 1723; died July 1. 1777. Chinese thinker of a materialist tendency; author of works in philosophy, mathematics, linguistics, and history. In contrast to Chu Hsi, who in identifying the category of tao (“path”) with li (“principle”) placed it above material nature, or ch’i, Tai Cheng interpreted tao not as a transcendental principle that is outside time and space but as ch’i. Moreover, the real substance of tao, according to Tai Cheng, is made up of yin and yang (opposing forces in conflict with each other) and the five basic elements. Tai Cheng took a humanistic approach to social problems. Debating advocates of orthodox neo-Confucianism, who insisted on the necessity of suppressing human wishes for the sake of duty (which was viewed as the social aspect of principle, li). Tai Cheng said that wishes and emotions should not be suppressed but cultivated so that they become the basis of the best human qualities.
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Fung Yu-lan. A History of Chinese Philosophy, vol. 2. Princeton. 1953.
V. A. RUBIN