Chu Hsi and Neo-Confucianism

By Wing-Tsit Chan | Go to book overview

27

The Establishment of
the School of Chu Hsi and
Its Propagation in Fukien

MAO HUAIXIN


The Founding of the School of Chu Hsi

THE SCHOOL OF CHU HSI was generally known as the Fukien School, and its propagation and influence in Fukien afforded an embryonic form of its role all over the country in the later generations. The term chi-ta-ch'enga (putting together all Neo-Confucian ideas) was first applied to Chu Hsi by his disciples Li Fang-tzub (1214 cs) and Ch'en Ch'unc (1159-1223). This paper aims at inspecting the validity of the term. 1

The main current of this school inherited the ideas of the Ch'eng brothers (Ch'eng Hao,d 1032-1085 and Ch'eng I,e 1033-1107), which were regarded as the most orthodox and pure by the Neo-Confucianists. It did not reject the hsiang-shuf learning (the study of emblems and numbers) of Shao Yungg (1011-1177) although it was considerably marked by the influences of both Taoist and Buddhist ideas. It defined, though not in a written form, the basic classical texts for Neo-Confucianism: among the pre-Ch'in (221-206 B.C.) literatures there were, in addition to the Four Books, 2 the "Appended Remarks" of the Book of Changes, the "Record of Music" in the Book of Rites, the "Hung-fan"h (the Grand Norm) and the "sixteen words from heart to heart" in the "Counsel of the Great Yü"i chapter of the Book of History. In short, the Fukien School, which brought Neo-Confucianism to its culmination, held an all-embracing attitude toward all branches of the Neo-Confucian ideas. In principle it regarded both Buddhism and Taoism as heterodoxy, whereas in practice it absorbed much from Buddhist ways of thinking as well as from the Taoist view of nature. With regard to the latter it is unfortunate that though Taoism, endowed as it was with the germ of natural sciences, should have exercised its positive effects in bringing Neo-Confucianism closer to science, the historical fact witnessed it otherwise. Taoism only mystified and vulgarized Neo-Confucianism.

According to relevant records, when Yang Shihj (1053-1135) a native of Nan-chienk in Fukien, left his teachers the Ch'eng brothers to return home in

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