Essentials of Neo-Confucianism: Eight Major Philosophers of the Song and Ming Periods


Huang's book analyzes the major Neo-Confucian philosophers from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries. Focusing on metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical philosophical issues, this study presents the historical development of the Neo-Confucian school, an outgrowth of ancient Confucianism, and characterizes its thought, background, and influence. Key concepts--for example tai-ji (supreme ultimate), xin (mind), and ren (humanity)--as interpreted by each thinker are discussed in detail. Also examined are the two major schools that developed during this period, Cheng-Zhu, School of Principle, and Lu-Wang, School of Mind. These schools, despite different philosophical orientations, were convinced that their common goal, to bring about a harmonious relationships between man and the universe and between man and man, could be achieved through different ways of philosophizing. To understand the Chinese mind, it is necessary to understand Neo-Confucianism as a reformation of early Confucianism.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Westport, CT
Publication year:
  • 1999


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