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Summary Dai Zhen 戴震 (1724-1777). The most influential Confucian scholar in the Qing dynasty. Also the leading philologist and a contributor of major works on phonology, astronomy and mathematics. Dai developed an alternative to the speculative metaphysics that had come to dominate China after the rise of Buddhism and orthodox Neo-Confucianism. He defended models of moral cultivation and moral agency that prioritized desires, sympathetic perspective-taking, textual analysis, and philosophical reflection.
Key works Dai's most important and comprehensive work is the Evidential Commentary on the Meanings of Terms in the Mengzi (Mengzi ziyi shuzheng 孟子字義疏證). This has been translated by Freeman and Chin in Tai Chen on Mencius (Yale University Press, 1990) and in Ewell 1990. Another major philosophical work is On the Good (Yuanshan 原善), which is translated in Cheng 1971.
Introductions Ivanhoe 2000 (ch. 7), Tiwald 2010Tiwald 2006
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  1. Chung-Ying Cheng (1971). Tai Chên's Inquiry Into Goodness. Honolulu,East-West Center Press.
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  2. Zhongying Cheng & Justin Tiwald (eds.) (2011). Confucian Philosophy: Innovations and Transformations. Wiley-Blackwell.
    New work on Confucian philosophy, published as a supplement to the Journal of Chinese Philosophy.
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  3. John Ewell (1991). Dai Zhen: The Unity of the Moral Nature. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 18 (4):387-394.
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  4. Jig-Chuen Lee (1991). How Tai Chen Differs From the Neo-Confucianists on Li. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 18 (4):395-409.
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  5. Justin Tiwald (2011). Sympathy and Perspective-Taking in Confucian Ethics. Philosophy Compass 6 (10):663-674.
    This article spells out a forgotten debate in Confucian ethics that concerns the finer points of empathy, sympathy, and perspective-taking (sometimes called ‘role-taking’). The debate’s central question is whether sympathy is more virtuous when it is automatic and other-focused – that is, when we engage in perspective-taking without conscious effort and sympathize without significant reference to our selves or our own feelings.
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  6. Justin Tiwald (2011). Dai Zhen's Defense of Self-Interest. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38 (s):29-45.
    This paper is devoted to explicating Dai Zhen’s defense of self-interested desires, over and against a tradition that sets strict limits to their range and function in moral agency. I begin by setting the terms of the debate between Dai and his opponents, noting that the dispute turns largely on the moral status of directly self-interested desires, or desires for one’s own good as such. I then consider three of Dai’s arguments against views that miscategorize or undervalue directly self-interested desires. (...)
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  7. Justin Tiwald (2010). Dai Zhen on Human Nature and Moral Cultivation. In John Makeham (ed.), The Dao Companion to Neo-Confucian Philosophy. Springer. 399--422.
    An overview of Dai's ethics, highlighting some overlooked or misunderstood theses on moral deliberation and motivation.
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  8. Justin Tiwald (2010). Is Sympathy Naive? Dai Zhen on the Use of Shu to Track Well-Being. In Kam-por Yu, Julia Tao & Philip J. Ivanhoe (eds.), Taking Confucian Ethics Seriously: Contemporary Theories and Applications. SUNY.
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  9. Justin Tiwald (2010). Dai Zhen on Sympathetic Concern. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 37 (1):76-89.
    I argue that Dai Zhen’s account of sympathetic concern is distinguished from other accounts of sympathy (and empathy) by several features, the most important of which are the following: First, he sees the awareness of our similarities to others as a necessary condition for sympathy but not a constituent of it. Second, the relevant similarities are those that are grounded in our common status as living creatures, and not in our common powers of autonomy or other traits that are often (...)
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  10. Justin Tiwald (2006). Dai Zhen. In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Encyclopedia entry on the Confucian philosopher Dai Zhen 戴震 (1724-1777).
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  11. John Allen Tucker (1991). Dai Zhen and the Japanese School of Ancient Learning. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 18 (4):411-440.
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  12. Genyou Wu (2010). A Preliminary Discussion of Dai Zhen's Philosophy of Language. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 5 (4):523-542.
    Dai Zhen’s philosophy of language took the opportunity of a transition in Chinese philosophy to develop a form of humanist positivism, which was different from both the Song and Ming dynasties’ School of Principles and the early Qing dynasty’s philosophical forms. His philosophy of language had four primary manifestations: (1) It differentiated between names pointing at entities and real events and names describing summum bonum and perfection ; (2) In discussing the metaphysical issue of the Dao, it was the first (...)
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  13. Zhiqiang Zhang (2009). From the “Alternative School of Principles” to the Lay Buddhism: On the Conceptual Features of Modern Consciousness-Only School From the Perspective of the Evolution of Thought During the Ming and Qing Dynasties. [REVIEW] Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (1):64-87.
    The best representatives of the self-reflection of xinxue 心学 (the School of Mind) and its development during the Ming and Qing Dynasties are the three masters from the late Ming Dynasty. The overall tendency is to shake off the internal constraints of the School of Mind by studying the Confucian classics and history. During the Qing Dynasty, Dai Zhen had attempted to set up a theoretical system based on Confucian classics and history, offering a theoretical foundation for a new academic (...)
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  14. Zhang Zhiqiang & Huang Deyuan (2009). From the "Alternative School of Principles" to the Lay Buddhism: On the Conceptual Features of Modern Consciousness-Only School From the Perspective of the Evolution of Thought During the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (1):64 - 87.
    The best representatives of the self-reflection of xinxue 心学 (the School of Mind) and its development during the Ming and Qing Dynasties are the three masters from the late Ming Dynasty. The overall tendency is to shake off the internal constraints of the School of Mind by studying the Confucian classics and history. During the Qing Dynasty, Dai Zhen had attempted to set up a theoretical system based on Confucian classics and history, offering a theoretical foundation for a new academic (...)
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