Drawing from the rich body of recent scholarship, the author situates The Scholars within the intellectual currents of the Yan Yuan-Li Gong school, Confucian ritualism, and the broader legacy of Gu Yanwu and Huang Zongxi
on the one hand, and the specific socio-political context of the High Qing period on the other.
Inspired by the Donglin predecessors, Huang Zongxi (1610-1695)--a late-Ming/early Qing scholar--envisioned an ideal society ruled by public opinion formed through "public reasoning (gongyi)" of the entire local population.
(32) ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) According to Huang Zongxi, the local schools, as center for the formation of public opinion, must be entirely independent of the government.
And Huang Zongxi
(mentioned in the third chapter) certainly did not abandon monarchism as a whole but he did propose that good rulers could only exist under good laws, that is, institutional limitation of the emperor's power.
In the early Qing dynasty (1644-1911) when Huang Zongxi (1610-95) wrote the history of Ming Neo-Confucianism, however, Xue and the Hedong School were relegated to an insignificant position and have since been marginalized in the narrative of the history of Ming Neo-Confucianism.
Koh then takes us on a journey that explores both Xue's philosophy as a neo-Confucian, bis ideas on social organizations crucial for the development of his teachings, and the reception of his teachings prior to Huang Zongxi. He first discusses Xue's philosophy in Chapter two.
Jenner dismisses the Ming constitutionalist "Huang Zongxi
[as] more Savanarola than Montesquieu" (p.
A major development in this longstanding debate was the adoption of the fengjian system as the cornerstone for political reforms by thinkers like Gu Yanwu (1613-82) and Huang Zongxi (1610-95) during the Ming--Qing transitional era.
In seeking sanction from the past, the journal invoked the thoughts of both Gu Yanwu and Huang Zongxi. One article that dealt with Gu's theory of local self-government began as follows:
Those familiar with Ming Neo-Confucian thought will no doubt be aware that Huang Zongxi
's [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1610-1695) Records of Ming Scholars (Ming ru xue [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) recognizes Wu Yubi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1392-1469) as having been the first Ming scholar to seriously pursue the Way.
There exist unread anthologies of the works of hundreds of passionate and tough-minded Chinese thinkers, hardly any translated into English, but many of whom - Gu Yanwu, Huang Zongxi
, Ruan Yuan, Lu Shiyi, Fang Bao - were of major importance in the world's largest single political system at the time they lived in the 1600s and 1700s.