Neo-Confucianism


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Neo-Confucianism

 

an idealistic school of Chinese philosophy, which evolved mainly during the Sung dynasty (960–1279).

Neo-Confucianism took shape during Confucianism’s struggle with Buddhism and Taoism; as a result, neo-Confucianism adopted elements from both Buddhism and Taoism. Han Yü, a writer and philosopher of the eighth and ninth centuries, and Li Ao, a student of Han Yü, may be considered precursors of neo-Confucianism. They were concerned with the revival and further development of Confucianism for the purpose of counteracting the influence of Taoist and Buddhist teachings in China.

Unlike early Confucianism, with its predominantly ethical and political conceptions, questions of ontology, natural philosophy, and cosmogony occupied an important place in neo-Confucianism. One of the founders of neo-Confucianism, the 11th-century thinker Chou Tun-i, advanced the concept of the Great Ultimate (t’ai chi) as the fundamental principle of the world. The world of nature and the world of ethical relations as a single system, as two aspects of a single whole, is subordinated to this absolute Great Ultimate. The teachings of Chou Tun-i were developed by Chang Tsai and the brothers Ch’eng Hao and Ch’eng I.

A major Sung scholar of the 12th century, Chu Hsi, a commentator, historian, and dualist philosopher, was the most prominent representative of neo-Confucianism. He systematized the principal philosophical ideas of his predecessors. Chu Hsi believed that the Great Ultimate contained two principles: the ideal, incorporeal li and the material ch’i. He considered the li as preceding and dominating all things but existing only with the ch Y. Wang Yang-ming, a philosopher of the late 15th and early 16th centuries, is regarded as the most prominent representative of the subjective idealist trend in neo-Confucianism. He expanded Confucius’ and Mencius’ idea about the innateness of knowledge with the assertion that the world is a product of consciousness.

Neo-Confucianism supported ancient Confucianism’s reactionary conception of the immutability of existing social orders and the natural practice of dividing people into higher and lower strata: “noble men” and “petty people.” The Neo-Confucianists reexamined the interpretation of the basic code of Confucianist canonical literature, the Wu Ching (Five Classics). At the suggestion of Chu Hsi, the Ssu shu (Four Books) was proclaimed the new Confucianist canon.

In the late 13th and early 14th centuries, Neo-Confucianism became an official ideology. It retained its dominant position in the philosophical and sociopolitical thought of China until the early 20th century. It greatly influenced philosophy in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

L. I. DUMAN

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Xu Heng is best-known in Chinese history for his pivotal role in promoting Zhu Xi's particular version of Confucianism; in the estimation of Igor de Rachewiltz, 'he contributed perhaps more than anyone else to the eventual triumph of Neo-Confucianism during the Yuan dynasty'.
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But a new interpretation emerged then, partly reflecting a closing-in of China from outside influences, neo-Confucianism, formalized in the 12th century by Chu Hsi (Zhu Xi).
This paper seeks to introduce the Horak Debate to contemporary philosophers by (a) historically situating the debate within the tradition of Korean Neo-Confucianism, (b) providing an outline of the Horak Debate and identifying its central points of contention, and (c) demonstrating the debate's philosophical significance by revealing how some of its key issues are rooted in disagreements that continue to concern contemporary philosophers.
The potential for modern Confucianism to influence China's global trajectory is captured in the book's title, as the term "New Confucianism" connotes a modern-day or contemporary Confucian humanism, constituting the tradition's "third epoch." (1) Confucianism's classical ethical-sociopolitical teachings, founded during the Spring and Autumn States period--considered Confucianism's first epoch--remained relatively un-changed until the Sung and Ming dynasties, whence, upon engagement and subsequent synthesis with Buddhism, the then-native Chinese tradition became transmuted into Neo-Confucianism. Today, yet another metamorphosis is underway, as China's confrontation with the West continues to affect the Sinic civilization.
Such a change makes Neo-Confucianism less theistic and more atheistic" (p.
Bossier's most radical contribution is a reevaluation of the role of Neo-Confucianism in the promotion of wifely and widowly fidelity.
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