Chu Hsi and Neo-Confucianism

By Wing-Tsit Chan | Go to book overview

18

An Analysis of Chu Hsi's System
of Thought of I

CHANG LIWEN

THE SUBSTANCE in the logical structure of Chu Hsi's philosophy is his system of thought of Ia (Changes). Delving into such categories as T'ai-chab (supreme ultimate), yin-yangc (passive and active cosmic forces), and kang-roud (strength and weakness and fluctuation) of Chu Hsi's theory of Changes will facilitate not only an exposition of Chu Hsi's philosophy but also a search for the law of development in the history of Sung (960-1279)-Ming (1368-1644) Neo‐ Confucianism.


I

I-chinge (Book of changes) is a work which is simple and terse in its language but comprehensive and rich in its meaning, and so it is capable of being extended and developed. Scholars and philosophers of past ages have annotated the I-ching in their respective lights and from their own views inconsistent with the original meaning of the classic. Several schools came into being. Since the Ch'in and Han dynasties (221 B.C.-A.D. 220), there have been the so-called Yin-yang-chiaf (school that explained the I in terms of yin-yang doctrine), Tao-chiag (school that dealt with the I-ching in a Taoist way), Ch'an-wei chiah (school that illustrated the I-ching in a necromantic language), Hsüan‐ hsüeh-chiai (school that expressed the idea of Changes in an abstruse way), Lihsüeh-chiaj (school that expounded the I-ching in accordance with Neo-Confucianism), and so on. Of these schools some held that the I-ching should be interpreted by means of necromancy and others suggested that it should be explained in accordance with moral principles. Each of them had its own view in regard to how to interpret the I-ching. Chu Hsi commented on them thus, "Ever since the times of Ch'in and Han, those who devoted their study to the illustrations of the Book of Changes followed a bigoted course of emblems and numbers, failing to adopt an approach of comprehensiveness and simplicity, while those who talked about moral principles were confined to mere empty talk, far from being in consonance with the theme of humaneness, righteousness, moderation, and uprightness." 1 Obviously, Chu Hsi agrees neither with

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