Wang Yang-ming(wäng yäng-mĭng), 1472–1529, Chinese philosopher. He developed an idealist interpretation of 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.
..... Click the link for more information. that denied the rationalist dualism of the orthodox philosophy of Chu HsiChu Hsi
, 1130–1200, Chinese philosopher of Neo-Confucianism. While borrowing heavily from Buddhism, his new metaphysics reinvigorated Confucianism. According to Chu Hsi, the normative principle of human nature is pure and good.
..... Click the link for more information. . Wang believed that universal moral law is innate in man and discoverable through self-cultivation. In contrast to the orthodox Confucian reliance on classical studies (see Chinese literatureChinese literature,
the literature of ancient and modern China. Early Writing and Literature
It is not known when the current system of writing Chinese first developed. The oldest written records date from about 1400 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. ) as a means to self-cultivation, Wang stressed self-awareness and the unity of knowledge and action. One school of his followers emphasized achievement of mystical enlightenment in a manner strikingly similar to Zen BuddhismZen Buddhism,
Buddhist sect of China and Japan. The name of the sect (Chin. Ch'an, Jap. Zen) derives from the Sanskrit dhyana [meditation]. In China the school early became known for making its central tenet the practice of meditation, rather than adherence
..... Click the link for more information. .
WANG YANG-MING (Wang Shou-jen). Born 1472; died 1528. Chinese philosopher. Subjective idealist; follower of Liu Chiu-yüan, who affirmed that neither heaven nor earth exists outside of consciousness.
Wang Yang-ming argued with the followers of Chu Hsi, who believed that the way to self-perfection was through knowledge and “investigation of things.” He insisted that the most important thing was not theoretical cognition but rather the understanding of the most important moral truths, which comes to man intuitively, for man’s nature is given to him pure and perfect; and man’s task is to realize his nature by means of self-absorption and the renunciation of egotistical desires, which are alien. Any man can become wise if he learns to follow the voice of his nature and to unite knowledge and action. The teaching of Wang Yang-ming on the unity of knowledge and action essentially denies to knowledge its own substance and specific function, for it reduces knowledge to an act of volition: “Knowledge is the beginning of action, and action is the completion of knowledge.”
After Wang Yang-ming’s death his school split into two trends: one of them, following the course of Confucian tradition, stressed the ethical side of his teaching; whereas the other approximated his idea nt intuitive knowledge to the Buddhist notion of enlightenment.
WORKSWang wen-ch’eng kung ch’üan shu (Complete Collected Works of Wang Yang-ming). Shanghai, 1936.
Instructions for Practical Living and Other Neo-Confucian Writings. Translated by Wing-tsit Chan. New York-London, 1963.
REFERENCESKonrad, N. I. “Filosofiia kitaiskogo vozrozhdeniia.” In his book Zapad i Vostok. Moscow, 1966. Pages 231-34.
Fung Yu-lan. A History of Chinese Philosophy, vol. 2. Princeton, 1953.
Chang, C. The Development of Neo-Confucian Thought. New York, 1957.
V. A. RUBIN