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Summary Zhang Zai (Chang Tsai 張載, 1020-1077) played an instrumental role in establishing qi philosophy in neo-Confucianism. His theory of qi differs from previous Daoist conceptions of qi in three key aspects: qi exists from time immemorial, qi was always in polarity from the beginning and qi is ordered with its internal pattern, which he calls ‘Li (理).’  Nowadays, Chinese intellectual historians group Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism into three camps, with Zhang leading the camp of qi ontology.  His thoughts greatly influenced later qi-philosophers, the most notable of whom is Wang Fuzhi.  
Key works Kasoff 1984 is the only book-length treatment of Zhang Zai’s philosophy. Contemporary scholars focus on his theory of qi, which has been commonly named “qi monism” or “substance monism,” though the designation of “monism” is highly controversial.  A recent work Kim 2011 challenges such an understanding. 
Introductions

Kasoff 1984 is the only book on Zhang Zai’s philosophy in English. It places Zhang Zai in his historical context and explicates his many philosophical ideas, highlighting sagehood and his view on human nature. It provides a nice introduction to Zhang Zai’s philosophy.

Kim 2011 criticizes the prevalent denomination of Zhang Zai’s metaphysics as a form of substance dualism. It provides an alternative perspective with persuasive argumentation.

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  1. Wing-Cheuk Chan (2011). Mou Zongsan and Tang Junyi on Zhang Zai's and Wang Fuzhi's Philosophies of Qi : A Critical Reflection. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (1):85-98.
    Fuzhi’s philosophies of qi. In this essay, both the strength and weakness of their interpretations will be critically examined. As a contrast, an alternative interpretation of the School of qi in Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism will be outlined. This new interpretation will uncover that, like Leibniz, Zhang Zai and Wang Fuzhi introduced a non-substantivalist approach in natural philosophy in terms of an innovative concept of force. This interpretation not only helps to show the limitations of Mou Zongsan’s and Tang Junyi’s understandings of (...)
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  2. Kai-wing Chow (1993). Ritual, Cosmology, and Ontology: Chang Tsai's Moral Philosophy and Neo-Confucian Ethics. Philosophy East and West 43 (2):201-228.
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  3. Tang Chün-I. (1956). Chang Tsai's Theory of Mind and its Metaphysical Basis. Philosophy East and West 6 (2):113-136.
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  4. David Elstein, Zhang Zai. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  5. Ira E. Kasoff (1984). The Thought of Chang Tsai (1020-1077). Cambridge University Press.
    Chang Tsai is one of the three major Chinese philosophers who, in the eleventh century, revitalised Confucian thought after centuries of stagnation and formed the foundation for the neo-Confucian thinking that was predominant till the nineteenth century. The book analyses in depth Chang's views of man, his nature and endowments, the cosmos, heaven and earth, the problems of learning and self cultivation, the ideal of the sage - and how that ideal might be attained. It looks at the intellectual climate (...)
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  6. Jung-Yeup Kim (2011). A Revisionist Understanding of Zhang Zai's Development of Qi in the Context of His Critique of the Buddhist. Asian Philosophy 20 (2):111-126.
    In a comprehensive survey of contemporary scholarship on Zhang Zai's (1020-1077) development of the notion qi ( 'vital energy') in the context of his critique of the Buddhist, I observe that there is a prevalent imposition of a Western concept, namely, 'substance monism', on his understanding of qi . It is assumed that he posits that 'the myriad things ( wanwu )' and 'the vast emptiness ( taixu )' are simultaneously differentiated and unified in that they are but different manifestations (...)
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  7. JeeLoo Liu (2012). Moral Reason, Moral Sentiments and the Realization of Altruism: A Comparative Study of Nagel, ZHANG Zai and WANG FUZHI. Asian Philosophy 22 (2):93-119.
    This paper begins with Thomas Nagel’s investigation of the possibility of altruism.1 Altruism, by Nagel’s definition, is “merely a willingness to act in consideration of the interests of other persons, without the need of ulterior motives.” (Nagel: 79) The fundamental question Nagel investigates is: how is altruism possible? The reason why we need to investigate the possibility of altruism is exactly that an altruistic act is not readily exercised; it requires some effort on the part of the agent. Nagel discusses (...)
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  8. JeeLoo Liu (2011). The Is-Ought Correlation in Neo-Confucian Qi-Realism. Contemporary Chinese Thought 43 (1):60-77.
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  9. JeeLoo Liu (2011). Readings From the Lu-Wang School of Neo-Confucianism (Review). Philosophy East and West 61 (2):388-391.
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  10. JeeLoo Liu (2005). The Status of Cosmic Principle (Li) in Neo-Confucian Metaphysics. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 32 (3):391-407.
    In this paper, I attempt to make use of Western metaphysical taxonomy to explicate the cosmological variances in Chinese philosophical schools, especially with regard to the debates among the Neo-Confucian thinkers. While I do not presume that Chinese philosophers dealt with the same Western issues, I do believe that a comparative study of this nature can point to a new direction of thinking concerning the metaphysical debates in Neo-Confucianism. This paper is divided into three parts. In Part I, I employ (...)
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  11. Galia Patt-Shamir (2012). Filial Piety, Vital Power, and a Moral Sense of Immortality in Zhang Zai's Philosophy. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (2):223-239.
    The present article focuses on Zhang Zai’s 張載 attitude toward death and its moral significance. It launches with the unusual link between the opening statement of the Western Inscription 西銘 regarding heaven and earth as parents and the conclusion that serving one’s cosmic parents during life, one is peaceful in death. Through the analogy of human relations with heaven and earth as filial piety (xiao 孝), Zhang Zai sets a framework for an understanding that being filial through life eliminates the (...)
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  12. Elizabeth Woo Li (2010). Yang, Lihua 楊立華, Qi-Rooted and Shen-Transformed: Commentary on Zhang Zai's Philosophy 氣本與神化:張載哲學述評. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 9 (4):487-489.
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  13. Shiling Xiang (2011). Between Mind and Trace — A Research Into the Theories on Xin 心 (Mind) of Early Song Confucianism and Buddhism. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 6 (2):173-192.
    From Han Yu’s yuan Dao 原道 (retracing the Dao) to Ouyang Xiu’s lun ben 论本 (discussing the root), the conflicts arising from Confucianists’ rejection of Buddhism were focused on one point, namely, the examination of zhongxin suo shou 中心所守 (something kept in mind). The attitude towards the distinction between mind and trace, and the proper approach to erase the gap between emptiness and being, as well as that between the expedient and the true, became the major concerns unavoidable for various (...)
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