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10/02/2017 ZhuXi(StanfordEncyclopediaofPhilosophy)

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


ZhuXi
FirstpublishedThuSep3,2015

ZhuXi,thepreeminentNeoConfucian(daoxue)masterofthe
SouthernSong(11261271),isgenerallyrankedassecondonlyto
Confucius(551479BCE)ininfluenceandasrivalingZhuangzi
(fourthcenturyBCE)inphilosophicacumenintheChinese
philosophicaltradition.Aleadingscholarandclassicistaswellassharp
intellectanddevotedpractitioner,ZhuXiworkedoutaphilosophically
compellingsynthesisoftheideasoftheNorthernSong(9601126CE)
mastersZhouDunyi(101773),ZhangZai(102077),andthebrothers
ChengYi(10331107)andChengHao(103285).Intriguingly,his
ideaofaholisticsyntheticapproachitselfmayhavebeeninspiredinpartbyHuayanBuddhism(Ivanhoe
2000:4749).[1]Overtime,ZhuXisNeoConfuciansynthesisprovedtobeapotentphilosophiccatalystfor
hisintellectualsupportersandopponentsalike,untilthefallofImperialChinain1911andbeyond.His
influencegraduallyextendedtoKorea,Japan,andVietnam,aswell,eachofwhichadaptedhisthoughtalong
withtheConfucianclassicsandtraditionsinitsownway.BesidessynthesizingkeyNorthernSongNeo
Confucianideas,ZhuresearchedandreflectedonthereceivedFiveClassics(Changes,Odes,History,Rites,
andSpringandAutumnAnnals),andcompiled,edited,andcommentedonacompendiumofessential
Confuciantexts,theGreatLearning(Daxue),theAnalects(Lunyu)ofConfucius,theBookofMencius
(Mengzi),andtheDoctrineoftheMean(Zhongyong),titledtheFourBooks(Sishu).

Notably,fromtheGreatLearningZhuadaptedanddistilledthemethodologyofinvestigatingthingsto
extendknowledgewhilefromtheMeanhestressedattuningoneselftoattainutmostpropriety.Investigating
thingsincorporatedreadingandclassicalstudiesbutensuredonespracticalgraspofandpersonalresonance
withthepulseoflife:natureandphenomenaaswellassocietyandhumanrelationsandconcerns(Gardner
1986,1990).Attuningoneselfinvolvedreverentconcentrationandmindfulreflectionandpractice.Acentury
later,Yuandynasty(12711368)officialdomadoptedZhuXiseditionoftheFourBooksasthebasisforthe
ImperialExaminationSystem,ineffectcanonizingituntiltheterminationoftheimperialexamination
systemtowardtheendoftheQingdynasty(16441911)in1908.ThechangefromtheFiveClassicstothe
FourBooksasthebasisoftheimperialexaminationsystemresultedinareformandrenewalofthe
Confuciantraditionandoutlook.IteffectedarestorationofConfuciusoriginalconcernwithpersonalethical
cultivation,realization,andpracticefromthemorebureaucratic,careeristapproachtakenbymany
ConfuciansoftheprecedingHanandTangdynasties(206BCE905CE)thathadweakenedthetradition
spiritually.ZhuXisspiritandthoughtweredeeplyrootedintheoriginalteachingsofConfuciusandhis
earlyschool,aswellasintheseminalideasoftheNorthernSongmasters,andexertedaprofoundinfluence
inChinaandaroundEastAsiaforcenturies.

1.LifeandWorks
2.PhilosophyofHumanNatureandApproachtoSelfCultivation
3.EthicalPhilosophy
3.1InvestigatingThingsforEthicalDiscernmentandPractice
3.2MoralCosmicSynthesis
4.NaturalPhilosophy
4.1InvestigatingThingsforNaturalKnowledgeandAction
4.2PhilosophicSynthesis
5.Complementaritybetweenliandqi,andamongrelatedterms
6.MajorInterpretersofZhuXi
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1.LifeandWorks
ZhuXiwasborninYouqiinFujianinOctober1130.Manyanecdotesattestthathewasahighlyprecocious
child.ItwasrecordedthatatagefiveheventuredtoaskwhatlaybeyondHeaven,andbyeighthe
understoodthesignificanceoftheClassicofFiliality(Xiaojing).Asayouth,hewasinspiredbyMencius
propositionthatallpeoplecouldbecomeasage.InZhuXischildhood,hisfatherZhuSong(10971143)
arrangedforseveraloldfriendstoeducateZhuXiafterhispassing.Consequently,ZhuXiwaseducatedby
severaleclecticscholarswhohaddelvedintoDaoismandBuddhismaswellasConfucianism,andinclined
himtobedeepandwideranginginhisintellectualpredilectionsandculturalinterests.LaterhestudiedChan
(Zen)BuddhismwiththemonkDaoQianoftheKaishanTemple,andreputedlymetwiththeChanmaster
DaHui(DahuiZonggao,10891163).[2]TracesofHuayansholisticthoughtcanalsobediscernedinthe
formationofZhuXissystem.Remarkably,Zhupassedtheofficialjinshiexam(thepresentedscholar
exam)atjustnineteen,drawingonChanBuddhisminhisanswers.[3]HecontinuedtopursueDaoismand
BuddhismuntilhemettheNeoConfucianmasterLiTong(10931163)adecadelater,andformallybecame
hisstudentin1160.Infact,ZhusfatherhadrecommendedthatheconducthisadvancedstudiesunderLi
Tong,butZhupostponedseeingLiforyearsuntilhefinallyadmittedtohimselfthathewasnolonger
makingprogressinhiseclecticcultivationandsufferedspiritualdoubts.LiTongwasamasterinthe
southernYangShi(10531135)lineageoftheChengbrothersschool,partialtotheteachingsofChengYi.
LiTongconvincedZhuofthecogencyandsuperiorityoftheConfucianWayandcultivation.Meanwhile,
havingpassedthejinshiexamination,Zhuwaseligibletoholdoffice,andhadbeenassignedtoseveral
prefecturaladministrativeposts.But,sincehedisagreedwithcentralcourtpolicyonseveralmajorissues,he
preferredtoholdtempleguardianships,whichgavehimtheleisuretoconductConfucianstudiesand
cultivationinearnest,andshieldedhimfromtheruthlesscourtpolitics.Havingchosenthiscareerpath,Zhu
Xihadtheleisuretostudyandreflect,soovertimehemadenumerouscontributionsinclassicalstudies,
historicalinquiries,literarystudies,andphilosophicreflections.Hemoreoverdevelopedintoamanofletters
andwrotesubtleproseandelegantverse.

Arenownedteacherinlaterlife,ZhutaughttheclassicsandNeoConfucianthoughtandpracticetohundreds
ifnotthousandsofstudents.HisoraldiscoursesanddiscussionsarepreservedintheClassifiedDialoguesof
MasterZhu(Zhuziyulei),andhispoetry,essays,correspondence,andotherproseworksarecollectedinthe
CollectedWritingsofMasterZhu(Zhuziwenji).Healsopublishedcritical,annotatededitionsofseveral
classics,includingtheBookofChange(Yijing)andtheBookofOdes(Shijing),essentialworksofNeo
Confucianism,includingbyZhouDunyi,ZhangZai,andtheChengbrothers,andavitalNeoConfucian
anthology,ReflectionsonThingsatHand(Jinsilu).Healsoeditedandannotatedanimportantearlytextof
inneralchemyDaoismtheCantongqi(UnityoftheThree)byWeiBoyang(3rdcent.CE),whichcombines
thecosmologyoftheYijingandtheDaoistteachingofwuwei(nonintentionalaction)withinneralchemy.
ZhuXiremaineddevotedtohisspiritualandintellectualworkvirtuallytohislastbreath,ponderingand
discussingproblematicpassagesintheGreatLearningduringthelastseveraldaysofhislife.Throughouthis
life,ZhuXisoughttoreestablishthefundamentalconceptsandvaluesofConfucianismtorestoreChinas
culturalandpoliticalintegrityasaConfuciansociety,especiallysincepeopleinsearchofspiritualguidance
andsolacewereincreasinglylookingtoDaoismandBuddhismratherthanConfucianism,whichwas
perceivedasastateideologyandorthodoxyandhadlostspiritualandethicalpurchase.Moreover,Zhu
believedthattheempireneededthespirituallanofConfuciusoriginalethicalideasandvaluestomeetthe
challengeofbarbarianencroachments.Hisownsincerepatriotism,commitmenttothetradition,and
devotiontolearningandscholarshiphaveremainedaninspirationtothisdayinEastAsiaandthroughoutthe
world.

2.PhilosophyofHumanNatureandApproachtoSelfCultivation
ZhuXidevelopedatheoryofbasichumanpropensities(nature,xing)toaccountforboththepossibilityof
humanevilandthatofhumangoodnessandperfectibility.Onthistheory,while(followingMencius,372
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289BCE)insistingthatpeoplearebasicallygood(wellintendedandsensitivetothesufferingsofothers),he
acceptedthatthemannerinwhichthisbasicdispositionismanifestedisconditionedandattimescontained
byapersonsspecificqiendowment(nativetalentsandgifts,qizhi),familyandsocialenvironment,and
otherfactors.Suchfactorstogetheryieldonesempiricalpersonality,intelligence,andaptitudeforspiritual
ethicalcultivation.Zhuacceptedthattherearerealdifferencesinindividualdisposition,character,aswellas
aptitudeforethicalselfcultivationandrealization,owingtoindividualvariationsinqiendowment,
environment,etc.Furthermore,hearguedthatpeoplecanbecomebadorevildue,forexample,toacoarseor
sensualqiendowment,thebadinfluenceofruthlesskinorfriends,aselfishorharshsocialenvironment,a
cruelstreak,etc.Nonetheless,followingMencius,hefirmlybelievedthatanyonewhoissincerely
determinedtopracticemoralselfcultivationandwhodevoteshimorherselftoitcertainlycanattaina
degreeofethicalselfrealizationifnotsagehood.

Ifneitherthemeditativeapproachnortheactiveapproachtocultivationandpracticewereefficacious,what
pathremainedopentoZhuXi?RecentresearchshowsthatZhuXiembarkedonacarefulreadingofthe
worksofZhouDunyiduringthisperiodofspiritualphilosophicalcrisisduringwhichherediscovered
Zhousdoctrineoftheinterpenetrationofstillnessandactivityforthehumanmindandspirit(Adler2014).
Withthisidea,ZhouDunyiwasadvocatingthatwhereasthestatesofactionandrestaremutuallyexclusive
inthecaseofphysicalobjects,suchstatesinterpenetrateandaremutuallyimplicativeinthecaseofhuman
mentalandspiritualphenomena(Adler2014).ThisdoctrinepiquedZhuXisinterest,andhecametoseeit
asofferingawayoutofthedilemmabetweenLiTongsstressonstillnessandHuHongsstressonactivity
incultivationandpractice,andtheirrespectiveshortcomings.ZhouDunyisdoctrinewasparticularly
excitingtoZhuXiforithighlightedthedistinctnessandreligiosityofthehumanmindandspirit,which
Zhoudescribesasnotsubjecttothesamelimitationsandrestrictionsasarephysicalphenomena.Zhou
Dunyimoreoverassociatesthisideawithavitalandwellintegratedmodelofhumanmindandspirit,self
cultivation,andcosmos.InspiredbyZhouDunyisdoctrineoftheinterpenetrationofstillnessandactivity
andrelatedideas,ZhuXiworkedoutatwofoldcultivationeffortthatincorporatedatoncenurturingones
feelingofreverence(jing)topurifymindwhileinvestigatingthingstodiscerntheirdeterminateordefining
patterns(li).Cultivationofreverence,originallyareligiousvirtueassociatedwithancestorworshipand
ceremonialrites,asdescribedintheclassicsandtaughtbyConfucius(551479BCE),servestopurifythe
mind,attuneonetothepromptingsoftheoriginalgoodnature,andsetonetoactwithappropriateness(yi).
Moreover,bygraspingthedefiningpatterns(li)ofrelationshipandintercoursethatconstitutetheworld,
society,people,andproperconduct,onegainsthemasterkeytoactingwithutmostpropriety(zhongyong).
Themindthatisimbuedwithreverenceandcomprehendsthesepatternswilldevelopintoagoodwill
(zhuzai)dedicatedtoactingappropriatelyandwithutmostpropriety.Sincejingtakesonconnotationsof
focus,concentration,andalertness,aswellasreverenceinZhuXisdiscourses,mindfulnesshasbeen
suggestedastheEnglishtranslationthatcoversthefullnessofthetermjing(Kalton1988)inZhuXis
thought.

Inlaterlife,Zhustartedtoregardthistwofoldapproachtocultivationandrealizationastoocomplicated,
gradual,anddifficulttocarryoutinpractice.LikeConfuciusbeforehimandanticipatingWangYangming
afterhim,ZhuXicametoacceptthatthesincereConfucianadeptmust,onembarkingonhisorherproject
ofethicalselfcultivation,firststrivetoestablishhisorhersinceredetermination(lizhi)torealizethe
cardinalConfucianvirtuesandbecomeanexemplaryperson(junzi),thatistosay,amasterof
appropriatenessininterpersonalconductandhumanaffairsgenerally.

3.EthicalPhilosophy
ZhuXismethodologyforachievingperspicacity(ming)inethicaljudgmentandappropriateness(yi)in
practicecanbesummedupinhiscalltoinvestigatethingstoextendknowledge(gewuzhizhi).Zhu
advocatedthismethodologytostresstheneedforpeople,asprospectivemoralagents,tonoticethefine
details,thedistinguishingfeaturesofparticularsituationsandtofashiononthatbasisthemostdiscerning,
appropriateresponse.Thesedistinguishingfeaturescansuggestalternativemoralconsiderationstobe
weighed(Pincoffs1986).ThiscalllaybehindZhuspromotionoftheGreatLearning(Daxue)andcallfor
lifelonglearningandmoralreflectioninabidtoachieveamodicumofobjectivityandbreakfreeofthe
moralintuitionismandresultantsubjectivismtypicalofNeoConfuciansofhisgeneration.

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Throughouthiscareer,ZhuXifocusedonthetwinproblemsof1)determiningtheconditionsofmoral
agency,and2)settingforthaviableprogramofmoralselfcultivationonthatbasis.Zhusawmoralagencyas
theexpressionofamoralwill,whichheunderstoodtobetheachievementofaninnerselfmastery(zhuzai)
thatformsthecoreofapersonsmoralcharacter,perceptivity,cognizance,andresponsiveness.Onthisview,
selfcultivationthatisaimedatnurturingselfmasterymustincludeformingaconcentrated,reverential
mindset(jing)andadiscerningsenseofappropriateness.Earlyon,Zhuhademphasizedtheneedtoattaina
workingknowledgeoftheconstitutivepatterning(li)ofrealityandsocietyinthelightofwhichthenorms
andritualaction(li)prescribedforproperinterpersonalrelationshipsandintercoursearedevised.Helater
foundthatestablishingthedetermination(lizhi)toseekselfrealizationandconductoneselfappropriately
countedforasmuchasthelongtermcultivationprocessitself,duringwhichonecanlosesightofones
purposeandbesidetracked(seeQianMu1986:123127).Moreover,whilestillmaintainingtheimportance
ofthenormsandritualactionforcharacterbuildingandthesocialorder,Zhubegantoemphasizetheneedto
buildupasympatheticbutrealisticgraspofthewarpandwoofofrealdailyhumanlifeviewedinthe
perspectiveofsuchbroadConfucianethicalidealsashumaneness(ren)andfairness(gong).Heunderstood
that,althoughthenormsandritualactionarebroadlyapplicableandreliable,manysituationscallfor
specificallytailoredresponses.[4]

Consequently,againstthemoralintuitionismprevalentatthetimeinNeoConfucianism,asespousedbyhis
teacherLiTong(10931163),hisintellectualrivalLuJiuyuan(11391193),andothers,Zhuarguedthat
intuitionismisinadequatefordealingeffectivelywiththecomplexhumanaffairsthatpeopleareaptto
encounterintheirlives.[5]Rather,headvocateddedicatingoneselftotheobservationandstudyofthe
patterning/patterns(li)ofrelationship,interaction,andchangeamongallthings,amonghumanbeingsin
particular.Heregardedinvestigatingthingstoextendknowledgeasthesurestwaytodeepenandbroaden
onesdiscernmentofthepatternsthatconstitutethelivedworld.Suchknowledge,importantly,would
sharpenonessenseofappropriatenessbyattuningoneselftothesubtledistinguishingfeaturesofparticular
situations.

Again,ZhuXiconceivedtheworldasapatterned(li)totalitymadeupofacosmicvapor(qi)thatunder
variousconditionscondensesandsolidifiesintocountlesspermutations,fromthepuresttransparentyuanqi
(primordialqi),totheYinYangpolesmodulatedbytheprimaltaiji(supremepolarity)pattern,tothewuxing
(fivephases),eachofwhichbearsanidentifyinginnerpatternandsetofpropensities(xing)thatinvolve
interconvertabilityandrecombinationwiththeotherfourphases,andfinallytothephenomenalworld:
Heaven,Earth,andthemyriadthings(tiandiwanwu).[6]

ForZhuXi,theworldpresentsavitaltapestryofrelationships,cycles,processes,events,andthingsthatare
spontaneouslyarrayedinaestheticorder.Inthenexusofthesearrays,liaremanifestedthreedimensionally
andpresentdifferentfacesfromdifferentangles(Graham1986a:148QianMu1986:133).Liareinherently
perspectival.Zhuadoptsmetaphorsofthegrainsinwood,thelinesinjade,theveinsinaleaf,thelinesin
marble,andeventhetextureofbeef,tostressthatliaremanifestedimmanentlyratherthanabstractly,and
thusaretobesoughtconcretelybyobservingphenomenaintheworld,notbypure,disengaged,abstract
ratiocination(Needham1956a:473).Moreover,liareneverpresentedintheirputativeoptimalpureform.
Theyalwaysappearconditionedbythedegreeofpurityoftheqithroughwhichtheyaremanifestedandof
theenvironingconditions.

Lialsostructurethehumanmind,thought,andlanguage,suchthathumanbeingsarepredisposedtograsp
andattempttorespondappropriatelytothethingsandsituationstheyencounter.[7]Objectivelearningonthis
viewcanbeunderstoodasafacetofselflearning:indeed,bytheprincipleofcontinuity,objective
understandingenhancesselfunderstanding,forbycomprehendingthewarpandwoofoftheouterliof
things,onegainsinsightintotheinnerliconstitutingonesmindandcharacter(QianMu1971:II3138).
ForZhuXi,whilelistructurethemind,thought,andlanguage,thisisnotjustatthecognitivelevel:lialso
structuretheinnerpatterning(xing)andbasicimpulsesthatpredisposeustohavecharacteristicallyhuman
emotions(qing)andresponses(ganying)undervarioussetsofconditions(Graham1986a:152154Qian
Mu1971:II.2530).InZhusConfucianview,liandxingpredisposeonetobesensitiveandresponsive
metaphorically,theyprovidethehardwareofhumannature.Selfcultivationandmoralreflectionarethe
meansbywhichoneactivelyconditionsandfinetunesthesepredispositionsofsensitivityandresponse.
Theythusfunctionasindispensablesoftwareforcultivatingpersonhood.

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ThesearethecontoursofZhuXisapproachtomoralselfcultivationandinterpersonalethics.Thestandard
ethicalnormsworkwellinstandardsituations,normalfamilies,goodcommunities,andordinarysocial
circumstances.But,Zhualsounderstoodthatpeoplearerichlycomplicatedandthathumanaffairsoften
becomecomplex,getoutofhand,andgoawry.Lifeisjustnotthatideal,notthatsimple.Wesometimes
encounterethicallyanomaloussituationstowhichthestandardsetsoffeelingsandresponsesasprescribed
bythereceivednormsandritualactionssimplydonotfit.Inmanyinstances,standingonthenormandbeing
moralisticsimplywouldmakemattersworse.Zhuhimselfsaidthatonemusthaveampleexperienceand
selfcultivationsothat,

If,bychance,ananomalousaffairshouldcomeup,onecouldcomprehendit.Onewantstobein
apositiontograspsuchaffairsthoroughlyinordertounderstandtheirunfamiliaraspects.(YL:
ch.19)

ZhuXiconsideredhowtotailorresponsesappropriateinproblematicsituationsundertherubricofquan
(weighingthingsup,discretion,expedientmeans).[8]Henotedseveralkindsofsituationsinwhichrecourse
todiscretionandexpedientmeansmightbeadvisable:1)extraordinarysituationsthatcannotbecoveredby
thestandardnormsandritualactions,2)urgentsituationsthatrequireadirectviolationofthereceivednorms
andritualactionstobesatisfactorilyresolved,and3)situationsinwhichithumaneandprudentnotto
observetherelevantnormsandritualactions(seeWei1986).Situationsofthefirstkindincludethosethat
callforadisruptionofthegivenhumanorder,forexampletheremovalofanevilauthorityfigure,suchasa
psychoticparentoracrueldespot.Forsituationsofthesecondkind,Zhuhadinmindemergencieswhenone
wouldhavetoviolateanorminordertoperformanemergencyaction,suchasgraspingthehandofa
drowningsisterinlaw,orshovinganoldladyoutofthepathofarunawayoxcart.[9]Finally,thethirdkind
ofsituationincludesthoseinwhichitwouldbemorecompassionatetowaiveoroverlooktheritual
prescriptions,suchasincasesofcondoningtheremarriageofawidowwhowouldotherwisebedestinedto
isolationanddestitution.

Clearly,suchconsiderationsleadusintounmappedethicalterrain.Howfarcanonejustifiablytakesuch
sidesteppingofthereceivedapplicablenormsandritualactions?Whatqualificationsandrestrictionsmight
apply?Forhispart,ZhuXimentionedatleasttwoqualifications:aweakqualificationthattheexpedient
adoptednotbeotherwiseethicallyobjectionable,andastrongerqualificationstipulatingthattheexpedient
adoptedbeincompliancewiththeWay,i.e.,thatitsatisfysomebasicmoralvalue,atleastasbasicasthe
valuesexpressedintherelevantreceivednormandritualaction.Thus,anyexerciseofdiscretionthatis
undertakeninlightofonessenseofappropriateness(yi),ifexercisedwithsufficientprobityandcare,should
satisfythemoralvaluesembodiedintheWaymoreadequatelythanwouldaroutineobservanceofthe
standardnorm.Humanenessisthecoremoralvaluethatwasinvokedmostofteninsuchcases,butthereare
anumberofothers:filialpiety,fraternity,fidelity,empathy,compassion,appropriateness,etcFamous
examplesfromtheConfuciantraditionincludeMenciusreminderthatoneshouldoverturntheproprietyof
notgraspingthehandofamemberoftheoppositesexinordertorescueadrowningsisterinlaw(Mencius
4A.17),andChengYiarguedforanexceptiontotheimproprietyofwidowsremarryingonthebasisoffilial
piety(Rosenlee2006:134).Similarly,SocratesshowedthatJusticeisnotalwaysrealizedbyobservanceof
theproprietiesoftruthtellingandfaithfullyreturningafriendsproperty(PlatoRepublic331c).

Nonetheless,evercognizantoftemptationandmoralweakness,Zhuinsistedonthewellestablishedprobity
andintegrityofanyonewhowouldventuretousediscretionandexerciseexpedientmeans.Hestated:

Intendingtoweighupasituationcarefully[inordertoexerciseexpedientmeans],onemust
havecultivatedtheinnerrootdaily,sothatonesmindissensitive,perspicacious,pure,and
integrated[eveninthatcase,]onestillmustnaturallyweighupsuchsituationsmostcarefully.
AsChengYi(10331107)said:

Bereverentinordertostraightenoneselfwithinpracticeappropriatenessinorder
tosquaresituationswithout.Onessenseofappropriatenesscomprisesthemoral
fiberwhichoneexpressesthroughsincereritualaction.(YL37,37:6a,par.36).

Onlythosewhohaveextensivelyinvestigatedthingstoextendknowledge,andwhoareconversantwith
thesubtlepatterningsofthehumanheartandhumanaffairswouldbequalifiedtoconsiderexercising
expedientmeansoversimplyfollowingthenorms.(Zhuknewthisethicalknowledgeisasmuchamatterof
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practicalexperienceasofbooklearning.Attimes,hetoldhisoccasionallypriggishstudentsthatwell
disposedpeople,evenifmorallyuntutored,canbemorediscerningandhavebetterdiscretionthanaresome
academicians!)

WhileZhustressedmakingcarefulobservationsinsituationsinordertotailorthemostfittingresponsesin
context,atthesametimeheenvisionedacultivationprocesswherebyonediscernsevermorefundamental
andyetfarreachingpatterns(li)thatshapenatureandmoralvalue.Thatis,Zhusometimesconstruedthe
projectofinvestigatingthingstoextendknowledgeasanascendantmovementwherebythelearnerfinally
arrivesatthepinnacletaiji(supremepolarity)thatembracesandsubsumesallderivedpatterns.ToZhu,
graspingtaijiinthissensewastantamounttograspingthemasterkey,foritrepresentedtohimtheapexof
beingandvalue,andbestowedrealizationandsagehoodonthosewhosincerelyandauthentically
comprehendedandembracedit.[10]Whilethisconceptionchartsanidealpathtothepure,compassionate
mindsetofsagehood,itobscuresZhuXisusualemphasisonfinetuningandsharpeningonesmoral
discernmentandresponsivenessinthemidstofthingsinfullviewofthesituatednessofpeopleintheir
dailylife.ThisconceptionalsoneglectsZhusequalemphasisontheclaimthatpatternsasinborn
propensities(xing)aremanifestedonlyinconcretespecificqiformations,andthusthat1)patternsaretobe
discernedintheirfineparticularity,that2)themoralimpulsesaretobenurturedinthestreamofhumanlife,
andthat3)theemotions,whennotobscuredbydesiresorobsessions,forthemostpartareimmediate
expressionsofthebasicnaturalimpulses.

How,too,tosquarethisbroadvisionofprobinginquiryanddeepunderstandingwiththepotentially
constrictiveConfucianmoralpsychologyconstructedroundthevirtuesofhumaneness,appropriateness,
ritualpropriety,andwisdom,andtheirattendantemotions?ZhuXilikelyrealizedthatthesevirtues
functionedasthematicfociforcultivationasoneestablishesonesmoralorientationandbearingsanda
balancedinterpersonalstance.Oneneedstogothroughaninitialstageofmasteringthesebasicvirtuesin
orderto1)reinforceonesaltruisticimpulsesandcurtailtheegoisticones,2)beinclinedtoseekprincipled
rapportandharmonyininterpersonalaffairs,and3)bemovedbyasenseofonenesswithothersandall
things.Subsequently,themoreethicalhumanphenomenaoneobservesandconsidersinadvancedlevel
learningandcultivation,themoreonefeelsabroadsympathyforothersthattranscendsthenarrowlygraded
love,thesocalledlovewithdistinctionsthatisattributedtothenotionofren(humaneness)inConfucianism
(seeMencius,1A.7,3A.5,and7A.45).Themoreoneobservesthenuancesofhumanaffairsandthesprings
ofhumanaction,themoreonewillexpressdeferenceandrespectinwaysthatdonotnecessarilycoincide
exactlywiththegeneralprescriptionsofthenormsandritualactions.Inthisway,onewillbuildupa
repertoireofconductthatreflectsonespersonalethicaldiscernmentanddiscretion,whichexpressesones
personalethicalattainmentandstyle.

ZhuXionoccasionmodeledhisethicalconceptionofobservingsituationsandfashioningthemost
appropriateresponsenaturalisticallyonthebutchercharacter,CookDing,portrayedintheZhuangziasa
skilledartisan:justasthesurebladeofCookDingscleavergoesstraighttothecartilagebetweenthebones,
thecultivatedsenseofappropriateness(yi)ofZhuXismoraladeptstrikesrightattheheartofinterpersonal
situations(seeThompson1988:3940).A.C.GrahamoncecontrastedZhusperception/responsemodel
(ganying)ofethicalactionwiththatofZhuangzibysuggestingthatZhusnotionofappropriateresponse
wasinformedbyrigorousadherencetorulesandprinciples,whereasZhuangziswasrelativelyintuitiveand
spontaneous(Graham1986a:143145).Thisapparentcontrastcanberesolvedbyseparatingthestagesof
cultivationandmastery:Zhuangzisskilledartisans,suchasButcherDing,allhadtoundergoprolonged
periodsofrigorouslycontrolledapprenticeshipbeforetheycouldforgettheknowingthatinan
integrated,spontaneousprocessofknowinghow.Forhispart,ZhuXiknewthattheyearsoflearningand
practiceonesmoralapprenticeshipculminatesinaresponsivemoralagentwhocanoperateasintuitively
andspontaneouslyinhisorherpersonalandsocialethicalsphereasdoZhuangzisskilledartisansintheirs.
[11]Zhusmoraladeptisineffectanartisanofinterpersonalintercourse.Zhucouldrightfullyclaim
Confuciusasaprimemodelforthisview.Afterdecadesofcultivation,Confuciuscouldsay,Atsixty,my
earwasattuned.Atseventy,Icouldgivemyheartfreereinandwithoutoversteppingthemark(Analects
2.4).

ZhuXisappropriatenessapproachtoethicshasseveraldistinctfeatures.First,oneistobewellversedinthe
receivednormsandritualsthatcircumscribeinterpersonalrelationshipsandprescribeproperbehaviorin
familyandsociety.Second,oneistohavemadeampleobservationsandresponsesinreallifesituations.
Third,oneistohaveexaminedandreflectedonwaysinwhichothersactandrespondinsituations,for
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reference.Fourth,throughextensiveobservationandexperience,oneistobecognizantoftherangeof
considerationsthatcomeintoplayinreallifesituations:moralprinciple,utility,fairness,sympathy,
compassion,andsoforth.[12]Fifth,oneistoremainflexibleandopenmindedaswellasavoidmaking
surmises,beinginsistent,stubborn,orselfcentered(Analects9.4).Accordingtothisview,whileobserving
theethicalnormsandrulesofthumbinhisorhercommunity,themoraladeptpossessesastoreofpersonal
ethicalsensitivity,responsiveness,andresourcefulness,bywhichtofashionthemostfittingresponsesto
situations.

3.2MoralCosmicSynthesis
Inhiswatershedessay,ATreatiseonHumanity(Renshuo),ZhuXidiscoursesontheclassicalConfucian
teachingofhumanity(ren)inaunifiedcosmicandhumanperspective.Inconcluding,hecriticizes
alternativeaccountsofhumanity,i.e.,Confuciusspiritofhumaneness,onvariousconceptualandethical
grounds.[13]FollowingtheearlyHantradition,Zhuassociateshumanenesswithcosmiccreativity.Initsmost
basicmanifestation,humanenessischaracterizedastheimpulseofheavenandearth(thecosmos)to
producethings.Byextension,thisimpulseyieldsthecycleofseasonsandthepervasivefecundityofnature.
Advocatesofthisdoctrinehadfoundconfirmationintherich,productiveChinesesoilandtemperateclimate,
whichsupportedtheirassumptionthatnaturewasgenerallyfertileandaffordedtherightconditionsfor
humanflourishing.Pervasive,theimpulsetoproduceappearsineachandeveryoneofthemyriadcreatures
whileinhumanbeingsitisrefinedintothevirtueofhumaneness,which,whenfullyrealized,involves
onescaringattitudeanddedicatedresponsibilitytowardothers.ZhuXimoreovercorrelatesorigination,
growth,flourishingandfirmness,thefourfoldinitialstagesofcreativityandproductioninthecosmosand
naturefirstmentionedinearlycommentariesontheBookofChange,withhumaneness,appropriateness,
ritualconductandwisdom,thefourcardinalvirtuesenunciatedbyConfucius.ZhuXithusportraysthefully
cultivatedpersonasatonceacomplementtoheavenandearth,avitalparticipantincosmiccreativity,anda
catalystfortheflourishingandselfrealizationofothers.Onthisbasis,hegoesontoformulatethedefinition
ofren(humanity,humaneness)forthesubsequenttradition:theessentialcharacterofmindandthe
essentialpatternoflove.Thevirtueofhumanenessthusgroundsthedispositionofmindascommiserative
anddescribesthecoreofmoralselfrealizationasloveforothers(otherdirectedconcern),tobe
appropriatelymanifested.

IntheclosingargumentoftheTreatiseonHumanity,ZhuXistressesthatwhilethestillnessandactivity
phasesoftheemotionsprovideemotivestagesettingforonesdedicatedcultivation,realization,andpractice
ofhumaneness,whatiscrucialistheinsightthat,

Ifonecouldbuttrulypracticeloveandmaintainit(italicsadded),onewouldpossessthewell
springofallvirtuesandtherootofallgooddeeds.(basedonChan1963,212227,edited)

Underthispremise,ZhucitesConfuciusadvicetoYanHui,Mastertheselfbypracticingritualpropriety
(AnalectsXII.1).ForZhuXi,onemastersoneselftoreininonesnaveselfcenterednessbypayingritual
respecttoothers,whichinturnspursachangeintheaxisofonesmoralconcerntootherpeople,especially
thosewithwhomoneisrelatedanddailyinteracts.Whatisimportant,then,isthemoralethicalaxisofones
motivations.But,howisonetosustainandmanifestthishumanityconsistentlyinattitudeandpractice?Zhu
Xidoesnotappealtophilosophicreflectionbutrecommendsmindful(jing)dailycultivationandpractice,
i.e.,beingcalmandfocused,respectfulinpersonallife,diligentinconductingaffairs,anddedicatedto
upholdinginterpersonalrelations.[14]Moreover,heconsidersthatemotionplaysafundamentalroleinethical
cultivationandperformance.Afterstressingservingonesparentswithfilialityandoneselderbrotherwith
fraternalrespect,ZhuXiurges:Belovingindealingwithallthings,whichgoeswellbeyondstandard
filteredandrestrainedgradedConfuciansentiments.

HumanenessisnotjustamatterofconsideratenessandpayingduerespectZhuXiunderscorestherigorsof
conductingoneselfsincerelyandauthenticallywithhumaneness,citingConfuciusexamplesofnotonly
ministerswhohaddeclinedofficialpoststomaintaintheirintegritybutoftimeswhentheexemplaryperson
iswillingtosacrificehisorherownlifetofulfillhumanity(Analects15.8).Nonetheless,theanimatingspirit
ofZhuXisTreatiseremains:lovepeoplegentlyandbenefitthings,asreflectedinMenciusfourincipient
ethicalimpulsesandConfuciusfourcardinalvirtues.[15]

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4.NaturalPhilosophy
4.1InvestigatingThingsforNaturalKnowledgeandAction

WhileShaoYongandChengYiintheNorthernSonghadintroducedtheideaofobservationintermsof
guanwu(observingthings),fanguan(reflectiveperception),andgewu(investigatingthings),ZhuXinotonly
discussedtheideaofobservationbutofferedamultitudeofactualobservationsofcelestialandterrestrial
phenomena.Inaddition,hispenchantforhierarchyandsystemizationledmoderncommentatorsinthe
twentiethcenturytodrawcomparisonswithPlato,Aristotle,andevenThomasAquinas.Aroundthemid
twentiethcentury,JosephNeedhamvividlypresentedZhussystemintermsofprocessphilosophyasbearing
organismicpatternsofconceptualizationanddistinctparallelswithscientificthinking:

Iampreparedtosuggest,inviewofthefactthatthetermLialwayscontainedthenotionof
pattern,andthatChuHsihimselfconsciouslyapplieditsoastoincludethemostlivingandvital
patternsknowntoman,thatsomethingoftheideaoforganismwaswhatwasreallyattheback
ofthemindsoftheNeoConfucians,andthatChuHsiwasthereforefurtheradvancedininsight
intothenatureoftheuniversethananyofhisinterpretersandtranslators,whetherChineseor
European,haveyetgivenhimcreditfor.(Needham1956a:474)

Soonthereafter,afterundertakingacarefulstudyofZhusdialogues(Zhuziyulei),HuShihpresentedZhus
methodofinquiry,gewuzhizhi(investigatethingstoattainknowledge)asessentiallyaprocessof
hypothesisandverificationbyevidence(Chan1989:566),consistentinspiritwithascientificapproachto
inquiry.NeedhamandHueffectivelycastZhusthoughtandmethodinanewlight,asmorecreative,
scientific,andpracticalthanpreviouslythought.Sincethen,manyhavediscussedZhuasaprocessthinker,
butlittlehasbeenwrittentoconsidertheextenttowhichhissystemcouldaccommodateascientific
worldview,andtheextenttowhichhismethodofinquirywasconsistentwithascientificapproach.YungSik
KimexaminestheextenttowhichZhuanticipatedgenuinescientificmethodsofobservationand
conceptualizationinTheNaturalPhilosophyofChuHsi(2000).

Zhufromchildhooddisplayedagenuineinterestinnaturalphenomenaandinraisingspeculativequestions.
Laterhetendedtoreininthisinterest,forexamplebyrelatingfeaturesofobservednaturalphenomenato
humananaloguesfordidacticpurposesandbyrefrainingfrompressinghisspeculationsveryfar,i.e.,beyond
thescopeofverifiableknowledgeandapplicability.ZhulivedduringatumultuousperiodinChinesehistory
whenNeoConfucianscholarstendedtodrawupontheresourcesoftheirowntraditiontorevitalizethe
empire,aneffortinwhichZhusouvreconstitutedawatershed.Hesoughttowedtheobjectiveand
subjectivetrendsoftheearliermovementintoapracticalsynthesisinwhichobjectiveinquiryplayedakey
roleinsubjectivecultivation.Subsequently,however,ashisdisciplesrefinedhisthoughtintoascholastic
doctrine,subjectivecultivationprevailedoverobjectiveinquiry,whichwasincreasinglyredirectedintothe
narrowlimitsofreadingandinterpersonalconduct.

IntheMingdynasty,theinfluentialWangShouren(Yangming14721529)spurnedZhusmethodofinquiry
altogetherafterafutileattempttoobservetheli(patterning)inthebamboooutsidehisgate.Holdingthat
factsareobvioustoaperceptivemindanddonotrequireendlessfurtherinvestigation,Wangwentonto
formulateanidealistpragmatismthatbecameinfluential.Intendingtocounterthescholasticismand
careerismofhisday,Wang,amilitaryman,stressedvolitionismandactivismandspurnedthesortofcareful
objectiveinquiryZhuthoughtnecessarytomakingbalancedjudgmentsandappropriateresponses.

Zhuconceptualizednatureandnaturalphenomenaintermsofli(pattern,patterning)andgewu(the
investigationofthings),qi(primalvapor),yinyang,wuxing(fivephases),shu(number,probability,ratio),
xiang(images)figuresfromtheBookofChanges),ghostsandspirits(guishen),heavenandthesage(tian
shengren),stimulusresponse(ganying),andtransformationandchange(bianhua).Inthiscontext,itwas
importanttotreatlimatteroffactlyastheintrinsicpatterningofthingsandevents.Whiletheliinvolved
withtheidentitiesofthingsarethosefacetsofintrinsicpatterningthatpertaintotheirbasicinteractive
propensitiesandfunctions,theliofaconcretethingformagestalttotality(Kim2000),nearlyascomplex
asthethingitself.Thus,whereasscholarstendtotakeZhusassertionthatforacertain(kindof)thingto
exist,therefirstmustbethatliortheremustbethislifortheretobethat(kindof)thingasindicativeofa
metaphysicalprincipleofsufficientreason,inthiscontextlisimplyaffirmthatthingsofidentifiablekinds

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bearidentifyingpatterns(xing)thatmakethemwhattheyareandinteractastheydo.Liindicatereference
pointsforidentitiesofthingsthatinfluencetheirtypicalpatternsofinteractionwithotherthings.Lithus
conceiveddonotamounttoprinciplesofexplanationandaremoreinvolvedwithdefinition,soreferencesto
theliofphenomenadonotaddanythingcognitiveorscientific.[16]Attimes,Zhudidpresenttheideaof
investigatingthingsinchapter5oftheGreatLearning(Daxue)asinvolvingastepbystepapproach,withan
eyetodiscerningeverhigherlevelsofcommonalityamongthemyriadli(patterns),aimingatanultimate
comprehensionofthemostbasicformofpattern,taiji(supremepolarity).Althoughthisapproachlacksthe
rigorofalogicalcategoricalsystem,whenviewedtogetherwithZhuscommentsonZhouDunyisDiagram
oftheSupremePolarity(Taijitu),itissuggestiveforviewingphenomenaandformsinadevelopmental,
almostevolutionarycontext.AsNeedhamcomments:

ChuHsiwrote:

Ifonepeersintothemystery,thethaichi[taiji,supremepolarity]seemsachaotic
anddisorderlywildernesslackingallsignsofanarranger,yettheLi(fundamental
pattern)ofmotionandrest,andofYinandYang,isfullycontainedwithinit.

Innumerablesmallerorganismswerealsocontainedwithinit,andindeedcomposedit.Someof
themmorehighlyorganizedthanothers.Infact,theworldwasnomoreundifferentiatedforthe
NeoConfuciansthanformodernorganicphilosophyitmanifestedaseriesofintegrativelevels
oforganization,wholesatonelevelbeingpartsonthenext.Aclearstatementofthisconception
appearsintheninthparagraphoftheThaichiThuShuo[Explanationofthediagramofthe
supremepolarity],whichindicatedtheinapplicabilityofcategoriesoutsidetheleveltowhich
theybelong.(Needham1956a:466)

ForZhu,investigatingthingstoattainknowledgeinvolvesarrivingatagraspoftheirconstituentli
knowingorunderstandingsuchphenomena,thus,isamatterofgraspingtheirli.WhileZhuoftenspeaks
ofknowingorcomprehendingsomethingintermsofthemetaphorofseeingitclearly,ofhavingaclear
discernmentofit,whichisnothinglikerigidpropositionalknowledge,hedoesrecognizeseveralformsor
levelsofknowing,andregardsthebasicstepsoflearninginanalyticalpropositionaltermsandthehigher
levelsinmoresyntheticinsightterms.Thatis,onefirstlearnsfactsaboutthebuildingblocksoftheworld
andhumanlife,e.g.,whatthingsare,whattheymean,howtheyfittogetherthen,gradually,onegains
insightsintothebroaderpatternsofrelationshipandintercoursethatcomprisetheworldandhumanlifeand
thateventuallyaffordsensitiveglimpsesoftheinnerrootaswellasthelargerpicture.Zhusdiscoursesareas
fullofdetailedaccountsofphenomenaastheyareofsyntheticinsights,whichshouldbeexpectedgiventhat
ZhugivesequalstatusandvaluetothevarioussortsofqualitiesthattheWesterntraditiondividesinto
primary(quantitative),secondary(qualitative),andtertiary(qualitativeeffects).

Asnoted,Zhudrewonnotionsofqi,yinyang,thefivephases,shu(numbers,probablilities),andimagesas
conceptualandcategoricalresourcesforclassifying,characterizing,andunderstandingtheworld,especially
cycles,processes,andparticularthingsandevents.Chinesethinkers,especiallyduringtheHandynasty,used
suchnotionstoarrangecategoriesofrealityandcompilelistsofqualitiesforeachcategory.Whilesomeof
theassociatedqualitiesaredirectlyorcausallylinked,manyofthemarearbitraryperhapsassignedinlight
oflongforgotteneventsordecrees.Thesesetsofcategorieswerecompiledassystematicindicesfor
graspingthingsandeventsintermsofcategoricalassociationsandimputations.Inevitably,thesesetsof
categoriesboreastronglyculturalstampandbiasbutwereappliedequallytonaturalphenomena,asifthe
naturalworldwereanextensionofthehumanworld,notviceversa.

Zhuoftenclassifiedanaturalphenomenonintermsofthesecategoriesandassociations,andleftitatthat,
unconcernedthatthecategorieswerehaphazardandtheassociationsarbitraryandinexplicable.LikelyZhu
recognizedthatthesecategoriesandassociationsoftenwerearbitraryandnotparticularlyinformative
regardingphysicalrealitybutdidnotfinditnecessaryorpracticaltopursuethematter.Zhucontented
himselfwithassigningphenomenatotheseculturallycoloredsetsofcategoriesandassociationsbecausein
thosespeechcontextsthoseassociationsweremoresignificantandinterestingthantheprobingofpurely
physicalcategoriesandexplanationswouldhavebeen.Thesesortsofexamplesreflecttheculturalcommon
senseandconditionsofcommonspeechofhisage.

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Thequestionsariseswhetherthesesetsofcategoriesandassociationsweremoreahelporahindrancetothe
developmentofscienceintraditionalChina.Ontheonehand,theirloosecriteriaandarbitrarydesign
allowedforeasyclassificationsandaccountsofphenomenathatwouldhavestymiedseriousscientific
investigationwhile,ontheother,theassociationsthusattributedtothesephenomenasometimesmighthave
yieldedexpectationsorhypothesesofsorts,thusstimulatingfurtherinquiry.Interestingly,Zhuoften
sidesteppedthesesetsofcategoriesaltogetherinhisseriousthinkingaboutnaturalphenomenaandjudged
thembywhathetooktobethedecidingfactorsinthecasesthemselves,ofteninlightofanalogies.Striking
casesofthisareZhusdiscussionsonthestructureofthecosmos(heavenandearth)andinsightful
explanationsofphasesofthemoonandeclipsesofthesunandmoon.Forexample,Zhuoftensaidthatthe
earthwasfloatingonwaterbothbelowtheearthandsurroundingitsfoursideswerewater,buthealsosaid
thatqisurroundedtheearth.And,healsospokeofvortices,centrifugalforces,andoccasionallyoftheearths
motion.Zhuwasinterestedintheseaccountsoftheformationoftheworld,butsawnowaytoconfirmany
ofthem.Heperhapsthoughtitwasimportanttopresentsuchaccountsasrepresentativeofanobjective
approachtoaquestionthatwasmoreamenabletomysticalorreligiousapproaches.

Zhusnotionsofstimulusresponseandtransformationandchangearenoteworthy,fortheyarecounterparts
totheconceptsofcausationandchangeinWesternscience.Construingphenomenaassensitive,perhaps
perceptiveinarudimentarysense,thenotionofstimulusresponsereinforcestheinterdependenceofthings.
Assumingaresonanceamongthingsintermsofparallelismsamongtheirforms,andaffinitiesamongtheir
qi,thisnotionpresentsphenomenaonabiologicalmodelandconducestoanecologicalratherthana
mechanicaloutlook.Whileprovidinganinteractivewayoftalkingaboutphenomena,itdoesntopentheway
orimpeltheinquirertouncoverthenutsandboltsofcausationandchange.Also,sincetheideaofstimulus
responsewasusuallytiedtotheaforementionedsetsofcategoriesandassociations,itwasoftenvagueand
appliedinarbitraryandsuperstitiousways.Asmightbeexpected,Zhusnotionsoftransformationand
changealsoreflectedbiologicalandhumanlifemodels,withtransformationindicatinggradualchange,asin
thegrowthofachildorthepassageofsummer,andchangeindicatingasuddentransformation,asfroma
caterpillartoabutterflyorfromsummertowinterandlifetodeath.Fromthestandpointofdeveloping
science,bymakingchangeseemtobesonaturalandinevitable,thesenotionsoftransformationandchange
tendedtomakefurtherinquiryappeartobeunwarranted.Incontrast,Westernideasofeternalsubstanceand
inertmattermadetheobservedchangesontheearthandintheskiesproblematicandinurgentneedof
furtherinquiryandexplanation.Morepragmaticinspirit,theChinesewereconcernedmainlywith
registeringandgraspingtheobservedpatternsandsequencesofchangeinandaroundthemsoastobeable
toadjusttheirlivestotheeverchangingcircumstances.(ThiswasafunctionoftheBookofChanges.)

ZhuXipositsanontologicalandcausalcontinuitybetweenthecelestialandterrestrialrealms,aswellas
betweentheanimalandplantspeciesandhumanity.Indeed,thereisnocategoricaldifferencebetween
humanbeingsandotherlifeforms.Againstthisbackdrop,Zhucarefullyobservedanomaliesandsketched
explanationsbasedonthegeneralideasavailabletohim.Forexample,whenobservingfossilsofseashells
atopamountain,Zhunotedthattheareahadoncebeenaseabedandhypothesizedthattheearthformerly
wassofterandmorefluidandthat,throughwavemotions,thisseabedlaterrosetobecomeamountaintop.
Meanwhile,theentireearthdriedasitgrewolder.Whilethisexplanationwasnotrigorousordeterminate
enoughtocountasascientifichypothesisZhuappealedonlytonaturalisticconceptsandprinciplesinhis
comments.Zhumadequantitativemeasurementsofplantgrowth.Zhuonceheardamonksclaimthatone
canseeevidenceofthenourishingpowersofnightvaporbyobservingbamboosprouts,whichgrowtwice
asfastatnightasduringtheday.Later,duringastayataBuddhistresidenceonJadeMountain,Zhu
observedthatthebamboosproutstheredisplayedthesamerateofgrowthdayandnight,exactlythe
oppositeofthemonksclaim.QianMuobservesthatZhuspracticeofgewu(investigatingthings)was
fruitfulbecausehemadeobservationswithquestionsorhypothesesinmind,addingthatWangShourens
observationsofbamboohadbeenfruitlessbecausehehadnoquestionorhypothesisinmindtotest.Wang
wasundertakingblandlooking(Qian1986:215f,219).

IncontrasttoanalyticalWesternconceptsusedinstudyingthenaturalworld,includingmatter,material
quality,motion,andchange,ZhuXiadoptedaholisticapproachtounderstandingthephysicalworldand
phenomena.Hedrewuponreceivednotionsofli(pattern)andqi(cosmicvapor)todescribeandaccountfor
thematerial,dynamic,andformalfeaturesofperceivedphenomena.Li(pattern)refertotheinnerpatternsof
bothinteractionandidentifyingform.Asnoted,liarenotgeneraloverarchingprinciples,butinner
patterningsimplicatedinthingsandevents,fromthediscernibletexturesgrainsinwood,veinsinleaves
tothepostulatedidentifyingforms,xing,ofthings.Intermsofdynamicinteraction,listructuretheprimal
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yinyangintercourseastaiji,andtheintercourseamongthefivephasesastheirconstitutiveidentifying
forms.Zhuthusconceivedofthecosmosasemergingfromincipientyinyanginteractionintheinitially
formlessprimalqi(yuanqi).Yinyanginteractionandfurtherpermutationsgiverisetothefivephases,which
bearthefullrangeofmaterialandperceptualqualitiesandwhoseinteractiongivesrisetoheaven,earth,and
themyriadthings,i.e.,thecosmos.

TheChinesesystemoffivephasesdiffersfromtraditionalWesternatomismonseveralcounts.Asqi(yin
yang)operatesinessentiallyawavelikemanner,theworldismanifestedasafieldofinteractingqiforces.
Changeisafunctionoftheattunementofformsandresonanceofqi,andtransformationisviewedaccording
tochemicalandbiologicalmodels.Thatis,notonlyarethefivephasesderivedfromyinyanginteraction
theyaredivisibleandinterconvertible.Moreover,whileWesternatomsbearonlyprimaryqualitiesin
themselves,eachofthefivephasesexhibitsarangeofperceptualqualitiesandeffects,andthetradition
attributesaplethoraofqualitiesandassociationstoyinandyang.Theseflexibleandadaptableconceptsdo
notcreatethesortsofproblems,thekindsofconflictswithobservation,thatleadtorethinkingandfurther,
morepreciseinvestigationofphenomena.Becauseperceptualpropertiesofallsortsarepropagatedfromthe
formationofthefivephases,ZhuXiandothersinhistraditiondidnotdrawthecriticaldistinctionbetween
primaryandsecondaryqualitiesthatformedacruciallinchpininphysicalanalysisintheWestfrom
antiquity.Tobesure,Zhuspokeofathresholdbetweenperceptibleandimperceptiblephenomenaintermsof
theexpressionsaboveforms(xingershang)andwithinforms(xingerxia).Aboveformsrefersnotto
generalprinciplesorprimaryqualitiesbutessentiallytotheimmanentalmoralunderpinningsofnatureand
humanity,i.e.,theinnerrootsoforderandharmony,ecologicallyconceived,primaryexamplesofwhichare
daoandli.Characterizingthesefundamentalnotionsasaboveforms,Zhuinsistedthatpeopleneededto
comprehendtheminlightoftheirmanifestationsinperceivedphenomenawithinforms.Lackingthe
criticaldistinctionbetweenprimaryandsecondaryqualities,Zhutreatedperceptualqualities,suchascolor
andtaste,asequallybasic,innate,andrealinmaterialsubstancesasanyother,andassuchhedidnotlookto
underlyingprinciples,causes,ormechanismsintermsofwhichtoexplainthesemanifestqualities.

ZhuXididntfeeltheneedtoformulateatheoryofmotionassucheither,becausethefactorswereglossed
inhiscommonsensegraspoftheworldandhedidntseeanyadvantageofexplicatingthem.Importantly,he
couldntconceiveoftheirtheoreticalramificationsorespeciallyoftheirpracticalimplications,suchasfor
engineeringandtechnology.Atthesametime,Zhudidhaveagraspofinertiaandtherelativityofmotion,
keystosolvingtheproblemsofmotion,butitwasnotadequatetothetask.Thecapacitytoimagineideal
casesandrelationshipswouldhavebeennecessary:forexample,Galileohadtoconceiveoftheparadigmatic
caseofmotionintermsofanobjectmovinginastraightlineonafrictionlessplaneataconstantvelocity,
somethingthatcanneveroccurinnature,foranyactualobjectinevitablywillbeenvironedandinfluenced
byavarietyofforces,suchasgravityandfriction.Essential,too,wasthemathematicalplottingofmotions
innaturethatapproximatetheparadigmaticmotions,suchasKeplersplottingofplanetarymotionand
Galileosplottingofthetrajectoriesofprojectiles,toproducepreciserepresentationsofnearparadigmatic
motions.Necessary,too,wasanawarenessofthepossibilityofmathematicalcalculationandprecise
predictions.Zhusphilosophyinvolvedviewingallthingsinteractivelyinrelativecontext.Ifhehadhada
notionofparadigmatic(perpetual)motion,itwouldhavebeensomethinglikewavemotionsintheseaorthe
cyclicalpumpingactionofthetraditionalChinesewaterwheelusedforirrigationwithrisingfulltroughsof
watercomplementedbythefallingemptytroughs(receptacles),whichhehadusedtodepicttheyinyang
operationoftaiji.Zhualsolackedthenecessarynotionsofprecisemathematicization,measurement,and
calculationintermsofwhichtomakethetheoryofmotionbearfruit.Consequently,itishardlytobe
expectedthatZhuoranyoneelseinhisintellectualcircleshouldhavehadoccasiontoformulateanything
likeascientifictheoryofmotion.

SeveralfeaturesofZhuXisthoughtandhisnotionofobservationdiscouragedhimfromforminga
genuinelyscientifictheoryormakingscientificobservations.Zhuwasloathtoinvestigatethesortsof
fundamentalabstractconcepts,suchaselement,mixture,infinity,space,time,void,causality,andlaw,that
werenecessaryformakingbreakthroughsinthescientificrevolution.BecauseoftheConfucian
commonsenseapproachtothings,Zhuwasdisinclinedtopursueorinvestigatesuchabstract,intangible,and
seeminglyephemeralnotions.Hetendedtothinkthatfocusingonconceptslikevoid,nothingness,infinity,
andspacewoulddrawpeopleawayfromtheworldofhumanaffairsandultimatelypointthemtoward
pointlessintrospection.Zhusconcernwiththerealworlditselfstymiedhisinvestigationsintothevery
abstractconceptsnecessaryforconstructingabettergraspofthissocalledrealworld.

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ZhuXihadaparticularistictendencytoinvestigateeachphenomenononitsownterms,without
attemptingtorelateittomoregeneralexplanatoryprinciples,asinhistreatmentofinertiaandtherelativity
ofmotion.Inanothercase,hediscussedthedifficultyofboilingriceatopaparticularmountainintermsof
thecharacteristicsoftheqi(cosmicvapor)ofthatmountain,withoutrelatingthephenomenongenerallyto
characteristicsofqi(asairpressure)athighaltitudes.Inevitably,thisignoringofgeneralprinciplesmade
Zhulesssensitivetothecontradictionsthatarosewhenheofferedmorethanoneexplanationofasingle
phenomenon.

WhydidZhuXigotothetroubleofconstructinghiselaboratesystemandmakinganddiscussingallthese
observationsiftheydidntcarryhimbeyondcommonsensetoadeeperandmoreaccurateperceptionand
accountofreality,togobeyondthedetailsofparticularcasestomoregeneralprinciplesandtruths?Zhus
ultimatepurposewaspragmaticratherthanepistemicthatis,hewaslayingouttheconcepts,framework,
andpracticesthathedeemedmostconducivetoselfcultivation,selfrealization,andethicalpractice,rather
thanformulatingobjectivelyaccurateconcepts,systems,andmethodsforascertainingobjectivetruthsabout
theworld.So,hedidnothaveapracticalinterestinpushinghisinquiriesinpurelyscientificdirections.But,
thiswayofputtingitisnotcompletelyrightbecauseZhuhadconsideredavarietyofphilosophicpositions
anddidthinkhehadselectedthebestandmostaccurateoftheconceptsandsystemsathisdisposal.And,he
didattempttorenderhisideasinamannerthatwasfaithfultoreality,thedevotiontowhichwasoneofhis
corecultivationthemes.[17]Clearly,hedidnothavetherequisiteconcepts,framework,orstyleofthinking
throughwhichtoconceivetheworldunderoverarchingscientificprinciplesandabstractgeneralities.

ZhuXisworkingconceptsandthoughtweretypifiedbyimmanentalpatterns(li)ratherthanby
transcendentalprinciples.Heregardedreality,theworld,notintermsoflogicalorder,butasmanifesting
aestheticorder.Realityforhimwasnotcomposedofindependentatomsoperatingundergenerallawsrather
itformedafieldinwhichparticularsappearedasfocideterminedincontext.ToZhu,oursisnotanabsolute,
objectiveuniverseinwhichparticularindividualsaresubsumedundergeneralitiesandbehaveaccordingto
universallawsrather,theworldunfoldsbeforeusinlightofourincreasing,expandingperceptionofthe
arraysofparticularphenomenaaroundus.Theworldweexperienceisafunctionof,afieldmanifestedas,
thetapestryformedthroughtheresonanceamongthefocimakingupthatfield.Consequently,thetaskof
investigatingthingsisaprocessofunfolding(ratherthananinductiveprocess),anexhaustingoftheli
constitutingparticularthingsandevents,fromtheirgestaltforms,suchasthesymmetricalbilateralformsof
mostbiologicalentities,totheiridentifyingformstotheirfunctionsandtypicalpatternsofinteraction.
Proceedinginthisway,weseeknotthemostgenerallawsorprinciplesgoverningparticularatomic
individuals,butratherthemostbasicorcommonpatternsofinteractionandformationamongparticularsas
fociinfields.Consequently,forexample,theultimatepatterninZhusthought,taiji,thesupremepolarity,is
notanabstractideallikeaplatonicformoralawofnatureitisanimmanentalpatternthatisrealized
ubiquitouslybutdistributively,notoverarchinglyorgenerally.Zhuwasnotworkingtowardascientific
conceptionoftheworld,ofreality,asconstitutedongeneralprinciplesandabstractequationshewas
traversinganalternativeroutebyelicitingtheformationsofthingsandeventsinecologicalcontextinaway
thatwouldopenonesmindtotheintimateresonanceamongparticularsasfociinfields.Atthesametime,
bystressingtheexpressiongewuqiongli(investigatethingstoexhausttheirli),Zhumaintainedameasure
ofanalyticityinhisinsightstoensurethattheknowledgepeoplegleanedwasnuancedandtexturedenough
tocontributetolifeunderstandingandappropriateconduct.

4.2PhilosophicSynthesis
ZhuXierectedaphilosophicalsynthesisthathasbeencomparedbroadlytothesystemsofPlato,Aristotle,
ThomasAquinas,Whitehead,andothers.TheseGreatChainsystemsarehierarchicalandrootedinthe
distinctionbetweenformandmatter.RecentimmanentalreadingsofZhuXisthoughthavestirred
comparisonswithSpinozaandevenHusserl(Choi1999Yeo2013).ZhuXipreservedtheimmanental
characterofhishierarchybyincorporatingZhouDunyisconceptionofworld(andself)asshowninthe
DiagramoftheSupremePolarity(Taijitu),asawaytocombinetheChengbrothersconceptofli(pattern)
withZhangZaisnotionofqi(cosmicvapor)asorganicallyintegratedinaholisticsystem.InZhoustreatise,
ExplanationoftheDiagramoftheSupremePolarity(Taijitushuo)(Adler2014),Zhudiscernedaviable
accountoftheformationoftheworldinstagesfromtheoriginalunformedqi,toyinandyang,thefive
phases,earth,wood,fire,water,andmetal,andontoheaven,earthandthetenthousandthings.Zhublended
thisconceptionwithideasfromtheBookofChangeanditscommentariesinsettingforthacomprehensive

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philosophyofcosmicandhumancreativityandprovidingphilosophicalgroundsforthereceivedConfucian
conceptsofhumannatureandselfcultivation.

ZhuXispenchantforthinkinginpolarities,liandqi,inparticular,hascontinuedtostircriticstoregardhim
asadualistwhousedtwofundamentalconceptstoexplainreality.Forhispart,anyviableaccountofthe
complexityofphenomenamustinvolvetwoormorefacetsinordertoregistertheircomplexity,variety,and
changes.ZhugeneralizedtheorganicunderstandingofliandqiimpliedinZhouDunyisExplanationunder
aprincipleofcomplementarity,inspiredbyChengHaosobservationthatallthingshavetheircomplement
(discussedinthenextsection).Atfirst,Zhuthoughtthisprincipleonlygovernedqiphenomenaaspatterned
byli,buteventuallyheadmittedthatnotonlywereyinandyangparadigmaticpolarcomplementsbutthat
thesupremepolarity(taiji)complementedtheyinyangpolarity,andinferredthatliandqi,asthereferences
oftaijiandyinyang,respectively,toohadtobecomplements.Thismeantthatliandqiwerefunctionallyon
aparandmutuallyimplicative.Zhustillfelttheneedtoprioritizeliontologicallyandethically,however,for
thereasonthatliunderwritesboththepossibilityofqiordering(toyieldaworldandphenomena)andthe
possibilityofmoralfeelingsandnorms(toyieldethicsandasystemofrites).Treatingliandqiasfull
ontologicalcomplementswouldquitepossiblyentailaDaoistconceptionofnatureaspurespontaneityand
ethicsasjustperspectivalwhileprioritizingqioverliwouldbeinadequateforunderstandingtheworldand
phenomenalorders,andreduceethicstothereceivednorms.

5.Complementaritybetweenliandqi,andamongrelatedterms
Recognizingliandqiascomplementsservestounderscoretheirunityindifferenceandtheirimplicatedness
innotjusttheformsbutintheflowofeventscomprisingtheworld.[18]Thiscomplementaryrelationship,
moreover,underscoresthebasicholismandpowerofZhusthoughtregardingtheformationoftheworldand
things.

ZhuXiwasinspiredbyChengHaosformulationoftheprincipleofcomplementaritywhichheplaced
prominentlyinsec.1oftheNeoConfuciananthology,ReflectionsonThingsatHand(par.25):

MasterChengHaosaid:Theliofheaven,earthandthemyriadthingsisthatnothingexistsin
isolationeverythingcertainlyhasitsopposite/complement.Thisisspontaneouslysoandnot
artificiallyarranged.WhenIreflectonthistruthlateatnight,Ifeeldelightedasifmyhands
werewavingandmyfeetweredancing.(basedonChan1967,edited)

ZhuXiregardsthiscomplementarypatternasdescribingthemostfundamentalorderingtendencyofcosmos,
phenomena,andself.Notably,thisisli(pattern)inanewsense,nowmoreasapatternofcreative
intercoursethanjustasinherentpatterningororder.Itgeneralizesthesignificanceoftaiji,thoughitprima
facielackstaijisinsistentimplicationofliintoqiintercourseandderivedphenomena.Zhuremarksthat
ChengHaofeltdelightedabouthisinsightintothislibecause,

oncehehadgraspeddeeplythetruththat,nothingexistsinisolationbutcertainlyhasits
opposite/complement,itseemedtohimmarvelousandjoyous.(basedonChan1967,edited)

Zhuziyulei(ClassifiedDialoguesofMasterZhu),juan95,containsZhusdiscussionswithstudentsonthis
ChengHaoquotation.Asmentioned,Zhuusuallyconstruesthisasalipatternunderlyingthecomplementary
relationshipsamongqiphenomena,whichliitselftranscends,henceimplyingaverticalbifurcationbetween
liandqi.WhenadiscipleasksZhuwhetherthecomplementshavetobethingsorwhether,Litoocould
haveacomplement?TheMasterreplies,

Astothecategoriesofaboveandbelow,smallandgreat,clearandturbid,theyalsopertainto
things.But,ifweweretosay,havingtheabove,theremustbethebelowhavingthelarge,
theremustbethesmall,thatwouldbepurelyamatterofli,thatistosayithastobelikethis,
asasortoflogicalnecessity.Forexample,innaturesproductionofthings,therecannotonlybe
yin,theremustalsobeyangtherecannotonlybeyang,theremustalsobeyin.These[yinand
yang]aremutualcomplements.Thecontextsofthesecomplementsarenotthemselves
complementaryli.Rather,theliaretheveryreasonbywhichtherearethesecomplements.
(trans.bytheauthor)

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Zhualsoappliesthislipatterncreativelytonumber,speech,objects,andgames.Accordingtothispattern,
Onecomplementstwo,aboveformscomplementswithinforms.Anywordwillbearitssemantic
complementwithin.[19]And,thisobjectbeforeyoureyeshasitscomplementsofback,front,top,and
bottom.Moreover,eachsidehasitscomplement.Anysinglethingbearsitscomplementwithin.[20]For
example,thepathsonacheckerboardformseriesofcomplementarypairs.Intheend,whenonlyonepath
remainsopenanditseemsthatnoothercomplementremains,thisverypathstillcomplementsthe360other
paths.[21]Thisiscalledaonemanycomplement,liketheWayimplementcomplement(Zhuziyulei,juan
95).

Atthesametime,Zhuhesitatestoacceptthatliandqithemselvesarecomplementary,butthisprimarily
reflectshisethicalconcerns.[22]Ontheontologicalside,heeventuallydoesaffirmthatliandqiare
complementarybysaying:

Astowhatwouldbethecomplementoftaiji,itissaidthattaijiiswuji(freeofpolarity).Taiji
alsocomplementsyinyang.[Regarding]theWayaboveformsandutensilwithinforms
thesearehorizontaloppositions.(trans.bytheauthor)

Thisisjustlike,

havingthetranquilityoftheprearousedemotionsofpleasureandanger,griefandjoy,thereis
theharmonyoftheseemotionswhenarousedinduedegree.(trans.bytheauthor)

Taijiandwujiareopposed,apparentlycontradictory,expressions.Signifyingthemostbasic
complementarity,namely,thatbetweenyinandyang,taijiisthemostprimitiveandoriginalformofli.Itis
quintessentialli,orelementaryform(patterning).Signifyingsomethingunboundedandfreeofpolarity,wuji
describestheunformedprimalqiwhenceyinandyangemergethroughthetaijiimpulse.Itisquintessential
qi,purepotentiality.Hence,ZhouDunyisproposition,Wujiertaiji(Freefrompolarity,andyetthe
supremepolarity),expressestheidentityofopposites(liandqi)thatgivesrisetotheinitialimpulseof
phenomena.[23]Inthenextstepofthisimpulse,yinandyangareformed.Theycomplementtaijiaspure
energytopureform,thusexpressinganotherdimensionoftheliqicomplementarity.

Althoughthedistinctionbetweenaboveformsandwithinformsdoesnotstrictlymarkthedistinction
betweenliandqinevertheless,asthewayiscorrelatedwithli,andimplementisembodiedqi,their
horizontalcomplementarityimpliesasimilarpatternforliandqi.Strikingly,whereasthosewhotakethis
abovebelowformsdistinctionasmetaphysicalandphysicalwouldhavetodescribetheoppositionas
vertical,Zhusaysplainlythatitishorizontal,thusimputingacloser,moreinteractiverelationshipbetween
thesecomplementsthancouldobtainhadtheirrelationshipbeenstrictlyvertical.

AfinalreasonwhyZhuXisideasofliandqioughttobetakenashorizontalandnotverticalcomplements,
thatis,asacomplexunityandnotasametaphysicalduality,isfoundwhenZhumakestwoseemingly
contradictoryclaimsaboutliandqi:(1)Liispriortoqi.2)Liisnotpresentapartfromqiformations.
Whereas1)isusuallyregardedasapositivemetaphysicalclaim,itmeansratherthatliinthissenserefersto
permanentpossibilitiesofqiformation.Forexample,foranyparticularqiformationtohavecomeabout,it
hadtohavebeenpossiblefortheqiconstituentstocombineinthatparticularwaytoyieldthoseproperties
andcapacities.[24]Whereas(2)isoftentakentomeanthatlisubsistuntilinstantiated,itmeansratherthatli
arethepatterningofrealprocessesandthingstheyexistimmanentlyinprocessesandthings,thoughthey
canbeanalyzedanddiscussedseparatelyfromtheirrealcontexts.Thisiswhy,methodologically,Zhuinsists
thatlearnersacquaintthemselveswiththeliofthings,processes,affairs,ethics,etc.,byexaminingactual
things,processes,phenomena,etc.Heregardsthestudyofliinabstractionfromphenomenatobewooden,
hollow,empty,etc.Hence,Zhusclaims(1)and(2)andhismethodologicalstrategyallindicatethat,forhim,
therelationofcomplementaritybetweenliandqiisessentiallyhorizontal.

ThelipatternintheChengHaoquotationthusturnsouttobeametaliaboutthedynamicliqi
complementsthatoriginateandcomprisetheworldanditsconstituents,thatis,asasecondorderabstraction
fromtheliandqithatareactuallyimplicatedinphenomena.Again,thismetaliconfirmsthebasicunityand
dynamismofZhusliqisystem.Itrevealsthepulseoflifeattheheartofliandaffirmsthepossibilitiesof

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forminthevagariesofqimovement.ItenlivensZhussystemandmakesitflexibleandconceptually
adaptabletoexperienceandthinking.

WemayreflectthatZhusoriginalnotionofliaspatterninvolvesrestrictionsthatconflictwithexperienceor
expression,sohereconfiguresitinlightofZhouDunyisExplanationoftheDiagramoftheSupreme
PolarityandtheChengHaoquotation.[25]Toworkasintended,lihastotolerateandexpresssimultaneous
assertionsofcontradictorycomplementaryterms.Atthesametime,thisreconfigurationmarksastepaway
fromprimarilyimmanentalaestheticpatternoftheliconceptiontoamoreabstract,moreselfconsciously
metapattern.

6.MajorInterpretersofZhuXi
ZhuXiwasanactivescholarintellectualwhohelddiscussionsanddisputeswithotherscholars,bothin
correspondenceandinperson.Histhoughtcanbeunderstoodbycontrastwiththethoughtofhisintellectual
rivalsaswellasthroughhispositiveviews.Forexample,hisseriesofletterswithZhangShionthetopicof
selfcultivationandmoralpsychology,preservedintheCollectedWritingsofMasterZhu(Zhuziwenji),
providesanilluminatingrecordofthesetwodedicatedConfuciansquestforawellgrounded,efficacious
approachtoselfcultivation.HedebatedwithLZuqian(11341181)onthenatureofeducation.Zhu
focusedontheConfucianWayandmoralpracticeineducationwhileLuarguedforabroaderbased
humanitiesapproach.ZhuheldaseriesofdebateswithLuJiuyuan(Xiangshan:113993)onthenatureof
realizationandmoralconduct.WhereasZhuadvocatedregimensofstudy,reflection,observation,and
practice,Luspokesimplyofreflectingonselfandclarifyingthemind,consideringthatoncethemindwas
clearonewouldknowspontaneouslywhattodoinanysituation.Zhualsocorrespondedwiththe
utilitarianConfucianscholarChenLiang(114394),whodisputedZhusfocusonindividualmoral
realizationandthereceivedWaywithabroaderinstitutionalapproachthatwasmoresensitivetoempirical
factsandconditions.Zhugenerallyeclipsedalloftheotherscholarsofhisday,partlybecauseheoutlived
themandhadsomanystudentsbutmainlybecausehissystemwassocompelling.Itwascomprehensiveyet
nuanced,tightlyreasonedyetaccommodatingofindividualdifferences.ItpreservedtheessentialConfucian
Way,yetramifiedittomeetthechallengesofBuddhismandDaoismasspiritualteachings.Zhusinfluence
roseattheendoftheSouthernSongdynastyandbecamedecisiveduringtheYuandynastywhenhisedition
oftheFourBookswasadoptedasthebasisoftheimperialexaminationsystemarrangedbyscholarstrained
inhisapproach.

Whileraisinghisstandinginpedagogy,thisfocusontheFourBookscameattheexpenseofZhusdeeper,
morenuancedtextsanddialogues,andopenedthedoortounduephilosophiccriticism.Theschematic
presentationofZhuscosmictheoryoflipatternandqicosmicvaporthatlayinthebackgroundofhis
commentarytotheFourBookseasilyopenedhimtochargesofdualismandofreadingabstractcategories
intothedowntoearth,essentiallypracticalancienttexts.Becausehiscommentarywasfocusedonreading
andunderstandingthemeaning,intent,andcultivationmessageoftheFourBooks,criticsgeneralizedthat
Zhuandhismethodwereessentiallyscholasticandwouldbemyopicandstiltedinfacingrealsituations.
AnyonewhoperusesthecorpusofZhuswritingsanddialogues,however,willfindthathisontologyisnota
crudedualismbutaholismbuiltofcomplementary,mutuallyimplicativeelementsthatneverexistin
separation.Also,hisreflectionsarealwaysinformedbyknowledgeofhistory,currentevents,practical
observation,andpersonalreflection,ashismethodofobservationappliesgenerallytoobjects(andself)and
phenomenawhilerespectingtexts,whichhetooktobehandbooksofethicalinsightandpractice,afterall.
EvenZhuscommentsonConfuciusandMenciusoftenreferbacktothepersonandthespeechcontext,and
thusarenotentirelyscholastic.Hismethodofobservationopenedthedoortobreakthroughsbeyondthe
veritiesoftheclassics,thoughhewascarefulnottoplayupthisfactbecausemostofhisintellectual
colleaguesprimarilysoughtthetruthinthetexts,thinkingempiricalfactsweredistractionsfromtheessential
Naturalpatterning(tianli)thatwasreflectedmostadequatelyinthecanonicaltexts.

WhereasearlygenerationsofZhusfollowerswereacquaintedwithhisbroadlearning,incisivestyle,and
openspirit,ConfuciansoftheMingandQingdynastiesknewhimmostlythroughhiseditionoftheFour
Books,throughwhichtheytargetedtheircriticismsofhisthought.ZhusmosteminentcriticwastheMing
scholarofficialWangYangming(14721529).HerejectedZhusapproachtoobservationastooobjective
andopenended,asoutwardanddiffuseratherthaninwardandconcentrated.Itcouldbesaidthat,inhis
criticisms,Wangwasreactingmoretothescholasticattitudesfosteredbytheexaminationsystemthanto
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ZhuXihimself.WangultimatelyrespectedZhuandwentontocompileatextinwhichheattemptedtoshow
thatinlaterlifeZhuhadchangedhisapproachinasubjective,practicalwaythatanticipatedWangs
approach.

ScholarsofthelateMingthroughtheearlyQingperiod(midseventeenthtoearlyeighteenthcentury),
notably,WangFuzhi(161992)andDaiZhen(TaiChen,172377),disputedZhuonphilosophicaland
textualgrounds.WhereasZhuhadinsistedonthepriorityofpatternoverqi,(roughly,formovermatter),
WangandDaifollowedtheNorthernSongthinkerZhangZaiinaffirmingthepriorityofqi,viewingpatterns
asaposteriorievolutionaryrealizationsofqiinteractions.Theythoughtthisaccountdissolvedthethreatof
anyhintofdualismincosmology,ontology,andhumannature.Forhispart,ZhuXiwouldhaveresponded
that,fundamentally,patternisimplicatedintheverymakeupandpossibleconfigurationsofqi,whichis
whytheregularaposterioripatternscanemerge.Lipatterningprovidesforthestandingordersand
processes,basedonthesteadyinteractionsofyinyang,fivephases,etc.,thatgiverisetotheheavenearth
worldorder,withitsfullcomplementoftenthousandthings.Thefundamentalaprioripatternsarenecessary
totheworldorderandprovidethefecundcontextinwhichtheaposterioriformsemergecontinuously.
WangandDaisqibasedviewcouldnotaccountforexistenceandthevariegatedyetsystematicgivenworld
orderinthissense.Atthesametime,Zhudidnotthinkthatpatternswereabsolutelydeterminative.They
justsetcertainpossibilitiesoforderthatarerealizedwhenthenecessaryqiconditionsobtained.Forthe
mostpart,heregisteredtherangeofrandomnessandfreeflowinqiactivitythatisbestexemplifiedinthe
randomnessofweathersystemsandseismicevents.

Astotextualgrounds,WangandDaiarguedthatZhuwassoenamoredofhismetaphysicsofpatternandqi
thatheconstantlyreadthemintotheclassicaltexts.Forexample,DaisaidZhublandlyassociated
Confuciustermtian(heaven)withhisownnotionofli(pattern),quotingAnalects11:9whereConfucius,in
sorrowoverthedeathofhisdiscipleYanHui,criedthatHeavenhadforsakenhim.Daiasked,CouldZhu
reasonablyclaimthatConfuciuswascryingthatlihadforsakenhim?CriticstendtofindDaiscounter
intuitiveexampleagainstZhusapproachtobecompelling.However,consultingZhusoriginalcommentary,
wefindthathenotedthatthisphrasewasnotliterallyaboutheavenbutratherexpressedConfuciusutmost
sorrow,thatConfuciusfeltYanHuisdeathasifitwashisownsons,withoutmentioningpattern.This
exampledoesnotsupportWangandDaisclaimintheleast.ItillustratesthatZhuscommentarywas
nuancedandsensitivetopragmatic,situationalusagesdespitehispenchanttoseehisownnotionofpattern
insomeofConfuciususagesofheaven.Moreover,astheintellectualhistorianDanielGardnershows,
Zhuscommentarywasnotintendedassimplyaglossarywithcomments.Itwasintendedasaguidetoself
cultivation.Hence,ZhusometimesrecastpassagesintheAnalectsmoregenerallytoshowtheirbroader
implicationsforselfcultivationandrealization,oftenwiththeisolatedcountrysidestudentinmind.Gardner
showshowZhuhadeffectivelyenrichedthetextasatoolforselfcultivationwhereasearliercommentaries
oftheHanandTangdynastieshadjustgivenglossesnecessaryforansweringexaminationquestions.

KnownintheseventeenthandeighteenthcenturiesintheWestduetotheworkofJesuitsinChina,ZhuXis
thoughtandtextsweremademorewidelyavailabletowesternscholarshipinthelatenineteenthcentury.
Notably,JamesLegge(18151897)basedhistranslationsoftheChineseClassicsonZhuXiscommentaries,
whichhequotedanddiscussedinhisfootnotestothetexts.Earlyinthetwentiethcentury,aChinesestudent
ofJohnDewey(18591951)atCornell,HuShi(18911962),initiallyfollowedtheempirical,textualQing
scholarsinviewingZhuasascholasticmetaphysician.But,afterreadingZhusDialoguesinoldage,Hu
contendedthatZhusmethodofobservationwasnotscholasticbutessentiallyscientificinnature.J.P.Bruce,
whotranslatedabookofZhuscollectedwritingsinthe1920s,viewedZhusnotionofli(patternprinciple)
inlightofStoicnaturallaw.Fromthe1930s,theeminenthistorianofChinesephilosophy,FengYoulan,
interpretedlialongthelinesofplatonicFormsmakingZhuXiappeartobeanidealistandabstractthinker.
Inthe1950s,CarsunChangnaturalizedthenotionoflibyaligningitwiththeAristoteliannatureor
essence,therebylockingZhusthoughtintoasortofrigiddescriptivemetaphysics.

Fromthe1960s,MouZongsaninterpretedandcriticizedZhusontologyandethicsonKantiangrounds,
claimingZhuhaderectedanaprioriframeworkbutthenillicitlysoughttoderivefurtheraprioriknowledge
(ofpatterns)byaposteriorimeans(observation).Inthe1970s,theintellectualhistorian,QianMuexamined
andexplainedZhuXisthoughtdirectlyintraditionalindigenousterms,withoutreadingwesternconcepts
andlogicalpatternsintohissystem.ScholarswantingtoreadZhuXionhisownterms,largelyunmediated
bywesternthought,turntothefivevolumeZhuXianthologyeditedbyQianMuasarichstartingpoint.

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In1956,JosephNeedham,achemist,madeasignificantbreakthroughbyinterpretingZhussysteminterms
ofaprocessphilosophy,Whiteheadsorganicnaturalism.NeedhamsuccessfullyrecastmuchofZhus
languageinnaturalisticratherthanmetaphysicalterms.Thecultural,moraldimensionofNeedhamsaccount
hasbeendevelopedbyChengyingChengandJohnBerthrongwhilethescientificdimensionhasbeen
examinedbyYungSikKim.Inthe1980s,A.C.GrahamofferedthemostinsightfulandaptaccountofZhus
terminologyandpatternofthoughtin,WhatWasNewintheChengChuTheoryofHumanNature?and
otherwritings.Grahamshoweddecisivelythatthetermlireferstoanembeddedcontextualpattern,rather
thantoanysortofabstractformorprinciple.Heremindedusthatthetermlineverfiguresinpropositionsor
logicalsequences,aswouldbenaturalforprinciple.Rather,liarealwaysconceivedasstructuring,
balancing,modulating,guidingphenomena,processes,reflectionandhumandiscernmentandresponse.For
example,oneneverfindsmoralsyllogismsinZhuXiswritings.ManyofZhusdiscussionsthusconcern
moralemotionalintelligence:attunement,sensitivity,discernment,andresponse.JosephAdlerviewslias
indicativeofanorderingtendencythatmaybemanifestedaspatternorasprincipleindiffering
contexts.(Wemightsaythatpeopledeviseprinciplesinthelightofobservedpatterns.)Adleralsoexamines
thekeyrolesplayedbytheBookofChangeandZhouDunyiintheformationofZhusthought,andjoins
ThomasWilsonandHoytTillmaninshowingtheextenttowhichZhuXirevisioned,revised,andrecastthe
ConfucianWay.AdlershowshowZhuXimadeZhouDunyiapivotalfigureinthesuccessionofthe
ConfucianWaywhileWilsonisinterestedinZhusaccountoftheWayasasortofeducationalideological
revision,andTillmanisinterestedinhowZhusaccountoftheWayeventuallyoutlastedothercompeting
versionsthatmighthaveofferedmorepracticalandliberalopeningsinlateimperialChina.

Insummary,thedepthandrangeofZhuXisthoughtwereunparalleledintheChineseintellectualtradition
andaroundEastAsia.ZhuXistudiesgloballycontinuetobevital,wideranging,andcontentious,andto
attractincreasinginterestaroundtheworld.

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