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Summary

Zhu Xi (Chu Hsi 朱熹, 1130-1200) was the most influential Confucian since Confucius and Mencius, both because of his systematic philosophy and his political clout. Zhu Xi is standardly considered the “synthesizer of Song Neo-Confucianism,” and he was instrumental in establishing Confucian classics as the official documents for civic exams. His commentary and interpretation of the Confucian classics became the officially sanctioned orthodoxy.  Zhu Xi is regarded as the founder of the school of principle (lixue 理學), as his main thesis is that nature is identical with principle.  By “nature,” Zhu Xi means the essential traits of each particular thing.  He advocated “the Investigation of things (gewu 格物), which to him means studying the principle within each material object and daily affair.  Zhu Xi believes that one needs to investigate as many things as possible in order to extend the knowledge of Heavenly Principle.  He also redefines “Taiji” as principle, and treats it as the origin of the Universe as well as the ontological foundation of all things. In addition, Zhu Xi also developed a sophisticated virtue ethics and moral epistemology. Zhu Xi’s philosophy is preserved in his numerous commentaries on ancient Confucian texts and his extensive discourses with students and correspondences with associates. In Chinese, his essays and correspondences, etc. have been compiled into a ten-book set of Collected Writings of Zhu Xi (Zhuzi wenji 朱子文集), and his discourses with students were recorded by numerous students and compiled into (several editions of) The Recorded Sayings of Zhu Xi (Zhuji yulu朱子語錄).  The current popular version of his recorded sayings is a set of one-hundred-forty volumes Categorized Recorded Sayings of Zhu Xi (Zhuzi yulei 朱子語類).  Since this collection includes Zhu Xi’s explanations of his ideas in the Q&A with students, and the content is organized thematically, it is the most valuable primary source for Zhu Xi scholars.  The complete electronic text of this collection is available at **Zhongguo zhexueshu dianzihua jihua 中國哲學書電子化計劃** http://ctext.org/zhuzi-yulei/zh).  Unfortunately, most of his works and discourses have not been translated into English.  

Key works

Of primary sources in English, we have Chan 1967, Gardner 2003, Gardner 1990, etc., which translates a tiny portion of Zhu Xi’s copious work and remarks. There are many secondary sources in English, as among all neo-Confucians, Zhu Xi receives the most attention from contemporary scholars working in English. Chan 1989 and Chan 1986 represent earlier scholars’ researches on Zhu Xi, which are more or less from the intellectual historical approach. Kim 2000 is a well-researched book on Zhu Xi’s epistemology and his attitude toward natural science.  Angle 2009 ((cited under Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism) is a monograph devoted to Zhu Xi’s and Wang Yangming’s moral philosophy. The book has received high praises from scholars in the field.  

 

Introductions

Chan, Wing-tsit. Trans. Reflections on Things at Hand (compiled by Zhu Xi). New York: Columbia University Press, 1967.

This work is a translation of Zhu Xi’s Reflections on Things at Hand (Jinsilu 近思錄), which is a compilation of important sayings of early Sung Neo-Confucians.

Gardner, Daniel. Zhu Xi's Reading of the Analects: Canon, Commentary and the Classical Tradition (Asian Studies). New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

This is a translation of Zhu Xi’s commentary on the Analects, which is more than just a textual commentary but is imbued with Zhu’s philosophical insights.

Gardner, Daniel. Learning to Be A Sage: Selections from the Conversations of Master Chu, Arranged Topically. CA: University of California Press, 1990.

This book provides selected translation of Zhu’s recorded sayings.  

Chan, Wing-tsit.  Zhu Xi: New Studies. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 1989.

Wing-tsit Chan, editor of A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Chan 1963), is also an expert and a staunch defender of Zhu Xi.  This book represents Chan’s lifelong studies of Zhu Xi, with more than thirty papers treating various aspects of Zhu’s life, philosophy and associations. It should be book of interest to Zhu Xi scholars. 

Chan, Wing-tsit (Ed.) Chu Hsi and Neo-Confucianism. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 1986.

This book consists of more than thirty papers on Zhu Xi written by known scholars on Neo-Confucianism. The basis of this anthology is a conference on Zhu Xi held in Honolulu in 1982.  Paper topics mostly reflect studies on Zhu Xi in his historical contexts. There are, however, several papers on Zhu Xi’s theory of principle and the Great Ultimate (Taiji). They will be of interest to scholars who want to learn about Zhu Xi’s metaphysics.

Kim, Yunk Sik. The Natural Philosophy of Chu Hsi (1130-1200). Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2000.

This is a scholarly and yet accessible work on Zhu Xi’s theory of knowledge, his worldview and his attitude toward science. It provides a helpful guidance to Zhu Xi’s philosophy.

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  1. Joseph A. Adler (2008). Zhu XI's Spiritual Practice as the Basis of His Central Philosophical Concepts. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 7 (1):57-79.
    The argument is that (1) the spiritual crisis that Zhu Xi discussed with Zhang Shi 張栻 (1133–1180) and the other “gentlemen of Hunan” from about 1167 to 1169, which was resolved by an understanding of what we might call the interpenetration of the mind’s stillness and activity (dong-jing 動靜) or equilibrium and harmony (zhong-he 中和), (2) led directly to his realization that Zhou Dunyi’s thought provided a cosmological basis for that resolution, and (3) this in turn led Zhu Xi to (...)
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  2. Stephen C. Angle (2011). A Productive Dialogue: Contemporary Moral Education and Zhu XI's Neo-Confucian Ethics. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38 (s1):183-203.
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  3. Stephen C. Angle (2009). Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    The book's significance is two-fold: it argues for a new stage in the development of contemporary Confucian philosophy, and it demonstrates the value to Western ...
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  4. Stephen C. Angle (1998). The Possibility of Sagehood:Reverence and Ethical Perfection in Zhu XI's Thought. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 25 (3):281-303.
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  5. Diana Arghirescu (2012). Zhu Xi's Spirituality: A New Interpretation of the Great Learning. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 39 (2):272-289.
    This essay analyzes the spiritual dimension of Zhu Xi's thought as reflected in his commentary on the four inner stages of the Great Learning (the Daxue《大學》). I begin with a presentation of the notions “spirituality,” “religion,” and “practice,” and of the interpretative methods used. I then examine the signification of Zhu Xi's Neo-Confucian numinous root as embodied in the luminous moral potentiality, investigate from this perspective each one of the four inner stages of the Great Learning, and point out the (...)
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  6. John Berthrong (2005). Inventing Zhu XI: Process of Principle. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 32 (2):257–279.
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  7. John Berthrong (1987). Chu Hsi's Ethics: Jen and Ch'eng. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 14 (2):161-178.
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  8. John H. Berthrong (2006). To Catch a Thief: Zhu XI (1130–1200) and the Hermeneutic Art. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 33 (s1):145-159.
  9. John H. Berthrong (2002). Cheng-Zhu Confucianism in the Early Qing: Li Guangdi (1642-1718) and Qing Learning (Review). Philosophy East and West 52 (2):256-257.
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  10. Donald N. Blakeley (2004). The Lure of the Transcendent in Zhu Xi. History of Philosophy Quarterly 21 (3):223 - 240.
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  11. Donald N. Blakeley (1996). Cultivation of Self in Chu Hsi and Plotinus. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 23 (4):385-413.
  12. Brian Bruya (2001). Emotion, Desire, and Numismatic Experience in Descartes, Zhu Xi, and Wang Yangming. Ming Qing Yanjiu 2001:45-75.
    In this article, I explore the relationship between desire and emotion in Descartes, Zhu Xi, and Wang Yangming with the aim of demonstrating 1) that Zhu Xi, by keying on the detriments of selfishness, represents an improvement over the more sweeping Cartesian suggestion to control desires in general; and 2) that Wang Yangming, in turn, represents an improvement over Zhu Xi by providing a more sophisticated hermeneutic of the cosmology of desire.
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  13. Lee Chan (2010). Zhu XI on Moral Motivation: An Alternative Critique. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 37 (4):622-638.
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  14. Wing-tsit Chan (1982). Chu Hsi and Yüan Neo-Confucianism. In Hok-lam Chan & William Theodore De Bary (eds.), Yüan Thought: Chinese Thought and Religion Under the Mongols. Columbia University Press.
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  15. Yu Chang (2010). The Spirit of the School of Principles in Zhu XI's Discussion of “Dreams”—and on “Confucius Did Not Dream of Duke Zhou”. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 5 (1):94-110.
    Dreams were a topic of study even in ancient times, and they are a special spiritual phenomenon. Generations of literati have defined the meaning of dreams in their own way, while Zhu Xi was perhaps the most outstanding one among them. He made profound explanations of dreams from aspects such as the relationship between dreams and the principles li and qi , the relationship between dreams and the state of the heart, and the relationship (...)
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  16. Chung-Ying Cheng (2002). Ultimate Origin, Ultimate Reality, and the Human Condition: Leibniz, Whitehead, and Zhu XI. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 29 (1):93–118.
  17. Chung-Ying Cheng (1987). Method, Knowledge and Truth in Chu Hsi. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 14 (2):129-160.
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  18. Julia Ching (1979). God and the World: Chuhsi and Whitehead. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 6 (3):275-295.
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  19. Julia Ching (1974). The Goose Lake Monastery Debate (1175). Journal of Chinese Philosophy 1 (2):161-178.
    The Goose Lake Monastery Debate was an important event in the history of Chinese thought, chiefly because it marked the differences between two of the greatest representatives of the movement of thought known in the West as Neo-Confucianism. In this article, it is my aim to offer a historical reconstruction of the events that took place, to give an exegetical analysis of the problems discussed, and to conclude with an interpretation that places these problems in a wider perspective. I hope (...)
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  20. A. S. Cua (1983). Harmony and The Neo-Confucian Sage. Philosophical Inquiry 5 (2-3):124-142.
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  21. Pan Derong & Peng Qifu (2006). On Zhu XI's Theory of Interpretation. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 33 (s1):135-143.
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  22. Weixiang Ding (2011). Zhu Xi's Choice, Historical Criticism and Influence—An Analysis of Zhu Xi's Relationship with Confucianism and Buddhism. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 6 (4):521-548.
    As a great synthesist for the School of Principles of the Northern and Southern Song dynasties, Zhu Xi’s influence over the School of Principles was demonstrated not only through his positive theoretical creation, but also through his choice and critical awareness. Zhu’s relationship with Confucianism and Buddhism is a typical case; and his activities, ranging from his research of Buddhism (the Chan School) in his early days to his farewell to the Chan School as a student of Li Dong from (...)
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  23. Kenneth Dorter (2009). Metaphysics and Morality in Neo-Confucianism and Greece: Zhu XI, Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 8 (3):255-276.
    If Z hu Xi had been a western philosopher, we would say he synthesized the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus: that he took from Plato the theory of forms, from Aristotle the connection between form and empirical investigation, and from Plotinus self-differentiating holism. But because a synthesis abstracts from the incompatible elements of its members, it involves rejection as well as inclusion. Thus, Z hu Xi does not accept the dualism by which Plato opposed to the rational forms an (...)
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  24. Xudong Fang (2003). Contemporary Chinese Studies of Zhuzi in Mainland China. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 3 (1):121-141.
    Zuphu Xi (1130–1200) was one of the most influential philosophers in the history of Chinese philosophy. From the beginning of the fourteenth century until 1905, when the examination system was abolished, his and Cupheng Yi’s interpretations of the Confucian Classics were regarded as orthodox and served as the basis of civil service examinations and intellectual standards for the Chinese literati. His influence was not limited to China, as his thoughts became orthodoxy in Korea and in some important schools of thought (...)
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  25. Daniel K. Gardner (1983). Chu Hsi's Reading of the Ta-Hsueh: A Neo-Confucian's Quest for Truth. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 10 (3):183-204.
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  26. Thorian R. Harris (2012). Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy (Review). Philosophy East and West 62 (3):392-397.
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  27. Russell Hatton (1982). Chi's Role Within the Psychology of Chu Hsi. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 9 (4):441-469.
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  28. Chin-Hsing Huang (1987). Chu Hsi Versus Lu Hsiang-Shan: A Philosophical Interpretation. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 14 (2):179-208.
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  29. Siu-Chi Huang (1978). Chu Hsi's Ethical Rationalism. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 5 (2):175-193.
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  30. Yong Huang (2010). The Self-Centeredness Objection to Virtue Ethics. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 84 (4):651-692.
    As virtue ethics has developed into maturity, it has also met with a number of objections. This essay focuses on the self-centeredness objection: since virtue ethics recommends that we be concerned with our own virtues or virtuous characters, it is self-centered. In response, I first argue that, for Zhu Xi’s neo-Confucianism, the character that a virtuous person is concerned with consists largely in precisely those virtues that incline him or her to be concerned with the good of others. While such (...)
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  31. Yong Huang (1996). Zhu XI on Ren (Humanity) and Love: A Neo-Confucian Way Out of the Liberal-Communitarian Impasse. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 23 (2):213-235.
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  32. Chunfeng Jin (2010). A Reconsideration of the Characteristics of Song-Ming Li Xue. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 5 (3):352-376.
    By analyzing Zhu Xi and Zhang Zai’s three representative explanatory paradigms—that of Feng Youlan, Mou Zongsan and Zhang Dainian, the paper tries to show that studying Chinese philosophy in a Western way and emphasizing logical consistency will unavoidably lead to the defects of simplicity and partiality. In addition to Buddhism and Daoism, Song-Ming philosophy had also absorbed thoughts from the Pre-Qin, Han, Wei and Jin dynasties. The existence of multiple philosophical thoughts and their new synthesis lead to internal contradictions in (...)
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  33. Whalen W. Lai (1984). How the Principle Rides on the Ether: Chu Hsi's Non-Buddhistic Resolution of Nature and Emotion. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 11 (1):31-65.
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  34. 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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  35. Shu-Hsien Liu (2008). Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism (1) : From Cheng Yi to Zhu Xi. In Bo Mou (ed.), Routledge History of Chinese Philosophy. Routledge.
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  36. Shu-Hsien Liu (1984). On Chu Hsi as an Important Source for the Development of the Philosophy of Wang Yang-Ming. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 11 (1):83-107.
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  37. Shu-Hsien Liu (1978). The Function of the Mind in Chu Hsi's Philosophy. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 5 (2):195-208.
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  38. Ping-Cheung Lo (1993). Zhu XI and Confucian Sexual Ethics. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 20 (4):465-477.
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  39. A. P. Martinich & Yang Xiao (2009). Ideal Interpretation: The Theories of Zhu Xi and Ronald Dworkin. Philosophy East and West 60 (1):88-114.
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  40. Peiyuan Meng (2010). A Further Analysis of Zhu Xi's Theory of Mind. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 5 (3):377-395.
    Mind was the oneness of form and function. The change from an old theory to a new one about zhong 中 (the mean) and he 和 (harmony) was a shift from the idea of the separate form of nature and function of mind to one about both form and function of mind. Form was both the form of the spirit of the mind and of the substantiality of nature (not the same as substantial realities in substantialism); it was the integration (...)
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  41. Marjorie C. Miller (1987). Method and System in Justus Buchler and Chu Hsi. A Comparison. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 14 (2):209-225.
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  42. Steve Odin (1999). John Berthrong, Concerning Creativity—A Comparison Of Chu Hsi, Whitehead, And Neville. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 26 (2):241-250.
  43. Galia Patt-Shamir (2004). Moral World, Ethical Terminology: The Moral Significance of Metaphysical Terms in Zhou Dunyi and Zhu XI. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 31 (3):349–362.
  44. William L. Reese (1991). Categories of Creativity in Whitehead and Chu Hsi. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 18 (3):287-308.
  45. Conrad Schirokauer (1978). Chu hsi's political thought. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 5 (2):127-148.
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  46. Kwong-Loi Shun (2010). Zhu XI on the “Internal” and the “External”: A Response to Chan Lee. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 37 (4):639-654.
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  47. Kwong-loi Shun (2008). Wholeness in Confucian Thought : Zhu XI on Cheng, Zhong, Xin, and Jing. In Zhongying Cheng & On Cho Ng (eds.), The Imperative of Understanding: Chinese Philosophy, Comparative Philosophy, and Onto-Hermeneutics: A Tribute Volume Dedicated to Professor Chung-Ying Cheng. Global Scholarly Publications.
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  48. Kwong-Loi Shun (2005). Zhu Xi on Gong (Impartial) and Si (Partial). Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 5 (1):1-9.
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  49. Kirill O. Thompson (2007). The Archery of "Wisdom" in the Stream of Life: "Wisdom" in the "Four Books" with Zhu Xi's Reflections. Philosophy East and West 57 (3):330 - 344.
    Confucian wisdom is commonly assumed to consist in the Confucian value perspective as humanism in a naturalistic outlook. In fact, Confucius and Mencius sketched out a far more interesting notion of wisdom (zhi) as rooted in cognizance and flexibility and expressed in sensitive discernment and the ability to read and respond to complex, changing circumstances--to read (and respond to) the writing on the wall. Whereas the notions of tradition and the Way are thought to weigh heavily in the Confucian perspective, (...)
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  50. Kirill O. Thompson, Zhu XI (Chu Hsi, 1130-1200 CE). Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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