[A-Z April Blogging] [N] Neo-Confucianism

Neo-Confucianism is a Chinese intellectual movement that becomes prominent under the Sòng. It originates with both a fresh rediscovery of ancient texts, and a will to distantiate Confucianism from Daoism and Buddhism. Although it is considered as a philosophy born under the Sòng, its origins are really with Lǐ Áo (772-836 or 841), who was a nephew and a disciple of Hán Yù (768-824). Neo-Confucianists borrowed the terms of Lǐ 理 (principle) and Qì 氣 (see p4 of The Celestial Empire) from Buddhism and Daoism but re-interpreted them in a more rationalist and secular way, using metaphysics as a mere guide for developing a rationalist ethical philosophy.

Zhū Xī
The major figures of Neo-Confucianism are Zhōu Dūnyí (1017-1073), whose comments on the Yìjīng (the Book of Changes) using Daoist terms are the seminal Neo-Confucianist work, and Zhāng Zǎi (1020-1077 or 1078), who meditates on the meaning and characteristics of Qì and builds a whole new system of metaphysics based on it. Other major figures are the brothers Chéng (Chéng Hào, 1032-1085 and Chéng Yí, 1033-1107 or 1108), who profess the study of the Dào (Dàoxué) through the Investigation of Things (géwù), essentially an academic form of observational science, based on the idea that Lǐ lies within the world, and Zhū Xī (1130-1200), whose extensive commentaries on the Classics and on the 'Four Books' of Confucianism (the Analects of Confucius, the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, and the Mèngzǐ) become the basis of Neo-Confucian orthodoxy for the following eight centuries. Lù Xiàngshān (1139 or 1140-1192 or 1193), a rival of Zhū Xī's, is another Neo-Confucian thinker of note. He founded the Neo-Confucian School of Mind, the second most influential Neo-Confucian school after the School of Principle founded by Zhū Xī.

The term 'Neo-Confucianism' is of Western origin. The Chinese use Rújiā for Confucianism, and Lǐxué for Neo-Confucianism, i.e., two completely different phrases without any common term. In The Celestial Empire, despite the many differences between Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism, they will be considered as the same 'Allegiance' in gaming terms.

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