Chu Hsi and Neo-Confucianism

By Wing-Tsit Chan | Go to book overview

19

Chu Hsi's Discipline
of Propriety

KAO MING


Contents of the Discipline of Propriety of Chu Hsi

THE DISCIPLINE OF PROPRIETY is also called the Discipline of the Three Proprieties. It covers the following subjects.

1. The study of Chou-li,a (Ritual of Chou) or Chou-kuanb (Government organization of the Chou dynasty) deals with the state organization and systems of the Chou dynasty (1111-249 B.C.). The organization and institutions of a state vary greatly according to the specific requirements of different times. Nevertheless, the experiences and ideas of state organization of the Chou dynasty have been an important source of reference and inspiration for later dynasties since the Han (206 B.C.-A.D. 220). For instance, Cheng Hsüanc (127-200) of the Han dynasty compared the Han system with that of the Chou in his Chou-li chud (Annotations of the Chou-li). Chia Kung-yene (fl. 650) of the T'ang dynasty (618-907) compared the T'ang system with that of the Chou in his Chou-li shuf (Commentaries on the Chou-li), while Tu Yug (735‐ 812), also a scholar of the T'ang, did the same in his T'ung-tienh (Encyclopedia of institutions and customs). Scholars of the Sung dynasty (960-1279) were no exception. For instance, Ssu-ma Kuang' (1019-1086) cited passages of the Chou-li as supporting evidence in his "Lun ts'ai-li shu"j (Memorial to the throne on wealth and profit). 1 Similarly, Wang An-shihk (1021-1086) wrote the Chou-kuan hsin-il (New meanings of the Chou-kuan) in support of his unprecedented political reform. After Wang's abortive attempt, Sung scholars seldom directed their efforts toward the study of the Chou-li. Nevertheless, Chu Hsi still considered the Chou-li "the key link of propriety" in his "Ch'i hsiu san-li ta-tzu"m (Memorial to the throne asking for renovation of the Three Proprieties). 2 He also wrote the "Chou-li san-te shuo"n (The three virtues of the Chou-li) and the "Chou-li t'ai-chu chiu-pai pien"o (Discussion on the Grand Player's nine salutes) as well as other similar treatises. 3 It is evident that he also has thoroughly studied the Chou-li, directing his main concern at the parts concerning principles and rules of propriety, in other words, the parts that could be associated with those in the Li-chip (Book of propriety) and I-liq (Book of rituals).

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