A Comparative Study of Chu Hsi
and the Ch'eng Brothers
CHU HSI'S IDEAS originated with the Ch'eng brothers, Ch'eng Haoa (1032‐ 1085) and Ch'eng Ib (1033-1107), especially the latter. That is why ever since the beginning of the Yüan dynasty (1217-1368) their names were linked together. In this paper I would like to show first the similarities between Chu Hsi and Ch'eng I and then the significant differences. The Ch'eng brothers seem to have developed a "human world which stretches on the same plane," while Chu Hsi seems to have developed a "human world which unites the world beyond and this world." Before we may enter into a discussion of such problems in any depth, however, we must first try to define the special characteristics of Sung-Ming Neo-Confucianism.
Both Ch'eng I and Chu Hsi claimed that they had inherited the orthodoxy from Confucius (551-479 B.C.) and Mencius (372-289 B.C.?). Is there a basis for them to make such claims, or are these claims merely emotional exaggerations on their part without any real foundation? We must give an answer to this question before we can expect to have any understanding of the common characteristics of Sung-Ming Neo-Confucianism. A review of the development of Confucian thought is in order.
"Knowledge for the sake of action" was the fundamental principle of Chinese philosophy since the early Chou dynasty (1111-479 B.C.). Confucius also followed the same principle by putting special emphasis on the pursuit of knowledge. His contribution lies in his being interested not only in the accumulation of knowledge in general but in "knowledge for the self," something distinctly different from what he called "knowledge for others," which emphasized intellectual achievements to be useful for and ardently sought after by others. 1 Confucius believed that the primary goal of knowledge is to discover, develop, and elevate the self in order to bring about self-realization. In learning he urges us "to begin from a humble start in order to reach a lofty goal." 2 Such an approach shows that Confucius is not merely concerned with knowledge of external objects; the essence of learning for him is to transform