Chu Hsi

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Chu Hsi

(jo͞o shē), 1130–1200, Chinese philosopher of Neo-Confucianism. While borrowing heavily from Buddhism, his new metaphysics reinvigorated ConfucianismConfucianism
, moral and religious system of China. Its origins go back to the Analects (see Chinese literature), the sayings attributed to Confucius, and to ancient commentaries, including that of Mencius.
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. According to Chu Hsi, the normative principle of human nature is pure and good. Expressed in concrete form human nature is less than perfect, but it can be refined through self-cultivation based on study of the classics. His thought was orthodox during the Yüan, Ming, and Ch'ing dynasties. For 600 years students memorized his classical commentaries until the Chinese examination systemChinese examination system,
civil service recruitment method and educational system employed from the Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220) until it was abolished by the Ch'ing dowager empress Tz'u Hsi in 1905 under pressure from leading Chinese intellectuals.
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 was abolished in 1905.


See studies by W.-T. Chan (1987, 1989).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Chu Hsi


Born 1130; died 1200. Chinese philosopher, historian, and commentator on the Confucian classics. Leading exponent of neo-Confucianism.

Chu Hsi wrote more than 20 scholarly treatises, including works on jurisprudence, military affairs, astronomy, and geography. As prefect of Nank’ang, in Kiangsi Province, from 1179 to 1183 he established the Pai Lu Tung (White Deer Grotto) Academy, which became known throughout China.

Chu Hsi synthesized the major ideas of Confucian thinkers, from Confucius to Chou Tun-i, Chang Tsai, and the brothers Ch’eng I and Ch’eng Hao. He developed the dualistic concept of two interconnected and indivisible principles: the ideal, or li (literally, “law,” “principle,” or “rule”), which precedes all things and transcends all things; and the material, or ch’i (literally “substance” or “material force”). Li must be joined to a particular ch’i and is, at the same time, necessary to the ch’i as a condition of the latter’s being. Both principles are united in the formless T’ai Chi, or Great Ultimate, which exists in all things taken as a whole and in each thing individually and which, as the highest principle, unites all actual and potential principles and all things and beings.

Chu Hsi’s neo-Confucian synthesis became the dominant trend in subsequent Chinese philosophy and a major influence on philosophic thought in Korea and Japan. The Confucian Ssu shu (Four Books), selected and with commentary by Chu Hsi, served as the basis for the government examinations in China from the 14th to early 20th centuries. Chu Hsi wrote the historical work T’ung-chien kang-mu (The Main Principles of the Comprehensive Mirror), a reworking of Ssu-ma Kuang’s Tzu chih t’ung-chien (The Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government).


Konrad, N. I. “Filosofiia kitatskogo Vozrozhdeniia (O Sunskoi shkole).” In his book Zapad i Vostok, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1972.
Bruce, J. P. Chu Hsi and His Masters. London, 1923.
Chan Wing-Tsit. A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton, N.J. 1963.
Forke, A. Geschichte der neueren chinesischen Philosophie. Hamburg, 1938.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(3) (Julia Ching, The Religious Thought of Chu Hsi (Oxford, U.K., and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).
In the West, it has become commonplace in introductions to the thought of the great Neo-Confucian philosopher, Chu Hsi (1130-1200 C.E.), to compare him to the medieval Christian philosopher St.
Here, the "agenda" that "warps" Chuang-tzu is the Confucian agenda that late-imperial rulers built on the writings of Chu Hsi, an agenda quite contrary to the cultural and political realities of T'ang society, in which Confucians and Taoists of every variety appreciated each other's traditions.
offers a systematic overview of two harsh critics of Chu Hsi, Mou Tsung-San and Tu Wei-ming.
Commentators from Huang K'an to Chu Hsi said that the Way, because it is tranquil and quiet and lets things take their own course, does not make man great.
As a matter of fact, Chu Hsi never included any Han scholars in his line of Transmission of the Way.
The paradox of an absolute monarch bound by heavy cultural expectations was made an explicit ideal by the great Neo-Confucian synthesist Chu Hsi. According to Huang Chun-chieh, Chu Hsi believed that an emperor who correctly understood universal principle (li) could transform All Under Heaven by the sheer force of his moral example.
For patrilineal principles she turns to the writings of the major philosophers Chu Hsi (1130-1200) and Ch'eng I (1033-1107), and for accounts to balance these relatively abstract tracts Ebrey refers to anecdotal and literary traditions, such as the narratives compiled by Hung Mai (1123-1202) in his I chien chih and Jung-chai sui-pi.
Among the topics thoroughly examined are the beliefs and political activities of important Sung scholar-officials such as Su Hsun, Ssuma Kuang, Wang An-shih, Chu Hsi, Li Hsin-ch'uan, Wei Liao-weng and Chen Te-hsiu as well as the role they played in such Sung policies as the tea and horse trade, the "green sprouts" loan program, community granary, charitable estates and famine relief.
Part four, entitled "The Broader Intellectual Tradition," deals with Confucianism and Taoism in Tsung-mi's thought and compares Tsung-mi's attempt to provide an ontological basis for the affirmation of traditional Buddhist practices with a similar turn of thought taken, in opposition to Buddhist antinomianism, by the seminal Neo-Confucian thinker Chu Hsi (1130-1200).
In 1982 he published Utilitarian Confucianism: Ch'en Liang's Challenge to Chu Hsi (Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard Univ.), an intellectual biography of one of the scholars and thinkers who rivaled Chu Hsi in his own lifetime but was largely ignored in later centuries.
Beginning with a brief look at some facets of Chu Hsi's thought, deBary stresses the central role in Chu's teachings of hsin as the "embodiment of principle" and its cultivation.