Wang Yang-ming

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wang Yang-Ming


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.


Wang 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.


Konrad, 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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Although Wu's thought was largely articulated within the parameters of the dominant and orthodox tradition of the Cheng [Yi]-Zhu [Xi] School of Principle (Cheng Zhu li xue uifcil#) inherited from the Song Dynasty, the great care he took to give it meaning and relevance to his interior life gave it a personal direction characteristic of the Ming School of the Mind commonly associated with Wang Yangming [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1472-1529) and his followers.
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The last chapter deals with an unexpected victory in which Xue Xuan defeated a rival as strong as Wang Yangming (1472-1529) in the fierce competition for enshrinement.
As a final word, I wonder if Xue Xuan's victory over Wang Yangming for enshrinement has implications other than the competition between the two Schools or between the two regions.
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of Hong Kong) presents selections of the Buddhist Platform Sutra from the Tang dynasty (618-906), and of writings by neo-Confucians Lu Xiangshan from the Song dynasty (960-1127) and Wang Yangming from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
Within this perspective, it also presents the ethical teaching of the Chinese Ming philosopher Wang Yangming (1472-1529).
Best articulated by the followers of the Wang Yangming school of Confucianism in the sixteenth century, late imperial conceptions of childhood were deeply informed by the Daoist belief that an embryo of innocence, purity, and spontaneity is innate in all humans throughout the life course, and that it must constantly be nurtured, revived, and restored by medical and meditative practices.
Following a broad overview of the center and the borderlands in Chinese political theory, contributions address such topics as Chinese cartography during the Ming and Qing dynasties, marital politics and border stability on the Manchu-Mongol frontier in the early 17th century, philosophical manipulation of border issues by neo-Confucian Wang Yangming (1472-1529), Qing dynasty historical writing on less than successful military expansionist campaigns in the southwest borderlands, river tributary politics and interstate relations during the late Qing, the relationship between the Guangxi province and Indochina during the Republican period, Chinese Communist Party efforts to settle Han Chinese in the borderlands, and the use of borderlands as places of exile and punishment.
When, in the sixteenth century, Wang Yangming, the great philosopher, wrote a complimentary epitaph for a Guiyang lady whose husband was constantly away from home travellling, he observed that "she dwelt in the women's apartments regulating both internal and external affairs" (Guiyang shizhi, wen wu, p.