About this topic
Summary ‘Neo-Confucianism’ typically refers to the revival of classical Confucianism developed between the eleventh and the eighteenth century in China, spanning over four dynasties in Chinese history: Song (960-1279), Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911). In Chinese intellectual history, neo-Confucianism is standardly divided into two periods: Song-Ming neo-Confucianism and Qing neo-Confucianism. Neo-Confucianism was a new form of Confucianism that came after the dominance of Daoism and subsequently Buddhism within Chinese intellectual circles. Neo-Confucianism revitalized classical Confucianism and expanded the traditional philosophical discourse to new dimensions. Neo-Confucianism invigorated the metaphysical speculation found in classics such as the Yijing and incorporated different concepts and perspectives from Chinese Daoism and Buddhism into its discourse. Neo-Confucians’ metaphysical views lay the foundation for their moral theories. In their various debates, Neo-Confucians touched on the possibility of an innate moral sense and the various means of moral knowledge. In Neo-Confucians’ views, morality takes its root either in the universal goodness of human nature, or in the individual’s moral reflection and cultivation of the human mind. This debate between the School of Nature and the School of Mind was one of the major themes in Neo-Confucianism. Finally, in Neo-Confucianism we see a consistent effort not only to redefine a realist worldview that affirms the world as existing independently of human conception, but also to reassert (after Daoism and Buddhism) a humanist worldview that places human beings at the center of meaning and values. These trends delineate the spirit of Neo-Confucianism.
Key works Other than the short selective translation in the Source Book (Chan 1963, under General Overview), there is little translation of primary texts (the ones available will be mentioned under individual philosopher). Of secondary materials, Makeham 2010 gives the most complete coverage of neo-Confucianism, but it is a collection of essays by different authors. Cheng 1991 is a collection of a seasoned scholar’s essays on Confucianism, and Part III is devoted to Neo-Confucianism.  Both Bol 2008 and de Bary 1981 take the historical approach.  Bol 2008 covers the cultural and political background in which neo-Confucianism emerged and developed, while de Bary 1981 traces the development of neo-Confucian orthodoxy from the Yuan dynasty to Tokugawa Japan. Liu 1998 provides a short beginner’s guide to neo-Confucianism in addition to classical Confucianism.

Bol 2008 takes an intellectual historical approach to Neo-Confucianism. It is useful for readers who want to know the historical background of Neo-Confucianism.

Cheng, Chung-ying. New Dimensions of Confucian and Neo-Confucian Philosophy. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. 1991.

This book is a collection of essays by the author, who has been plowing the field for many years and is instrumental in promoting Chinese philosophy in the West. These essays were written over a span of twenty years from 1965 to 1985. Part III of this book contains seven sophisticated papers on key thinkers such as Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming. The final essay, a comparative study on Neo-Confucianism and A. N. Whitehead’s process philosophy, led an important direction for comparative philosophy.

de Bary 1981, written by a distinguished historian de Bary, contains three essays.  The first essay explains the historical and political background of neo-Confucianism in the Yuan dynasty. The second essay analyzes how neo-Confucian orthodoxy was established and fortified.  The final essay traces the intellectual history of neo-Confucian orthodoxy in Tokugawa Japan. This book is probably of interest only to scholars of intellectual history.

Liu 1998 provides a general introduction to Confucianism, and Part II deals specifically with Neo-Confucianism. The analysis is accessible but traditional.

Makeham 2010: This collection contains comprehensive essays that devote to the following Neo-Confucians: Zhou Dunyi, Shao Yong, Zhang Zai, Cheng Yi, Cheng Hao, Hu Hong, Zhang Shi, Zhu Xi, Lu Zuqian, Chen Chun, Lu Xiangshan, Wang Yangming, Liu Zongzhou, Wang Fuzhi, Li Guangdi and Dai Zhen. Each chapter provides solid introduction to the philosopher covered. Individual chapters will not be mentioned separately in the following bibliography.

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  1. Kurdistan: The Taiwan of the Middle East?Yvonne Chiu - 2018 - Society 55 (4):344-348.
    Taiwan and Kurdistan appear to have little in common, but the progressive values of these two societies embedded within hostile regions make them both natural allies and important strategic assets in the U.S.’s and international community’s long-term fight against authoritarianism and radical religious theocracies. Instead, they have been ignored and/or exploited in the pursuit of short-term geopolitical and economic interests in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, which comes at great cost to American and international values as well as long-term (...)
  2. Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism.Justin Tiwald - 2018 - In Nancy E. Snow (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Virtue. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 171-89.
    In this chapter the author defends the view that the major variants of Confucian ethics qualify as virtue ethics in the respects that matter most, which concern the focus, investigative priority, and explanatory priority of virtue over right action. The chapter also provides short summaries of the central Confucian virtues and then explains how different Confucians have understood the relationship between these and what some regard as the chief or most comprehensive virtue, ren (humaneness or benevolence). Finally, it explicates what (...)
  3. Neo-Confucianism: A Philosophical Introduction.Stephen C. Angle & Justin Tiwald - 2017 - Cambridge, UK: Polity.
    Neo-Confucianism is a philosophically sophisticated tradition weaving classical Confucianism together with themes from Buddhism and Daoism. It began in China around the eleventh century CE, played a leading role in East Asian cultures over the last millennium, and has had a profound influence on modern Chinese society. -/- Based on the latest scholarship but presented in accessible language, Neo-Confucianism: A Philosophical Introduction is organized around themes that are central in Neo-Confucian philosophy, including the structure of the cosmos, human nature, ways (...)
  4. Democracy Without Autonomy: Moral and Personal Autonomy in Democratic Confucianism.Yvonne Chiu - 2017 - Philosophy East and West 67 (1):47-60.
    The presence and absence of autonomy in Joseph Chan’s democratic Confucianism loom large, but not always in the ways that he maintains. Although Chan claims that his reconstruction of Confucianism for modern democracy can accept some forms of moral autonomy, what he presents does not constitute genuine moral autonomy, and the absence of that autonomy sits in tension with some other aspects of his model. When it comes to personal autonomy, it is the opposite: Chan says that the exercise of (...)
  5. Re-Exploring Wang Yangming's Theory of Liangzhi : Translation, Transliteration, and Interpretation.Tzu-li Chang - 2016 - Philosophy East and West 66 (4):1196-1217.
    Admittedly there exists a considerable amount of contemporary literature on liangzhi that, to a certain extent, provides us with fruitful and insightful perspectives into Wang Yangming’s doctrine. And the majority of this literature, as if by tacit agreement, focuses on the interconnection between liangzhi and knowledge, whether it be innate, original, perfect, or moral knowledge. While this academic endeavor is credited with pushing forward studies of Chinese thought, it is the task of philosophy always to engage in the examination of (...)
  6. Autocracy at Work: A Study of the Yung-Cheng Period, 1723-1735.Kent C. Smith & Pei Huang - 1981 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 101 (3):390.
  7. Evaluations of Sung Dynasty Painters of Renown: Liu Taoch'un's Sung-Ch'ao Ming-Hua P'ing.Susan Bush, Liu Taoch'un & Charles Lachman - 1995 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 115 (1):111.
  8. Wang Fu and the Comments of a Recluse.Anne Behnke Kinney & Margaret J. Pearson - 1991 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 111 (3):618.
  9. Ambition and Confucianism: A Biography of Wang Mang.Hans Bielenstein & Rudi Thomsen - 1990 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 110 (2):381.
  10. The Columbia Book of Later Chinese Poetry: Yüan, Ming, and Ch'ing Dynasties The Columbia Book of Later Chinese Poetry: Yuan, Ming, and Ch'ing Dynasties.J. D. Schmidt & Jonathan Chaves - 1989 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 109 (3):497.
  11. Commentary on the Lao Tzu by Wang Pi.I. Robinet & Ariane Rump - 1982 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 102 (3):573.
  12. The Art of Wen Cheng-Ming.Richard Barnhart & Richard Edwards - 1978 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 98 (2):178.
  13. Peasant Rebellions of the Late Ming Dynasty.Romeyn Taylor & James B. Parsons - 1972 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 92 (4):541.
  14. Two Chinese Philosophers: Ch'eng Ming-Tao and Ch'eng Yi-Ch'uan.Wing-Tsit Chan & A. C. Graham - 1959 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 79 (2):150.
  15. The Study of Human Abilities, The Jen Wu Chih of Liu Shao.J. J. L. Duyvendak & J. K. Shryock - 1939 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 59 (2):280.
  16. Confucianism and African Conceptions of Value, Reality and Knowledge (儒家思想与非洲的价值观、现实 观与知识观).Thaddeus Metz - 2016 - International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition 国际社会科学杂志) 33 (4):159-170.
    This article, translated into Chinese by Tian Kaifang, summarizes and critically reflects on the current state of the literature that has recently begun to put Chinese Confucianism into dialogue with characteristically African conceptions of what is good, what fundamentally exists, and how to obtain knowledge. As most of this literature has addressed value theory, this article focuses largely on it, too. It first illustrates how similar the foundational values are between the two cultural traditions; central to both traditional China and (...)
  17. Why Be Moral? Learning From the Neo-Confucian Cheng Brothers by Yong Huang.Xingming Hu - 2016 - Philosophy East and West 66 (3):1032-1035.
    Why Be Moral? Learning from the Neo-Confucian Cheng Brothers, by Yong Huang, is a book written for Western philosophers. Professor Huang claims that there are two ways of introducing a Chinese philosopher to Western audiences: first, by showing them that the Chinese philosopher’s ideas are ridiculous or inferior compared to the corresponding Western ideas, and second, by showing them that the Chinese philosopher has better answers to some Western philosophical questions than great Western philosophers. Huang thinks the first way is (...)
  18. The Rupenides, Hethumides and Lusignans: The Structure of the Armeno-Cilician Dynasties. W. H. Rüdt-Collenberg.Peter Charanis - 1964 - Speculum 39 (3):565-566.
  19. Science and Civilisation in China. Joseph Needham, Wang Ling.George Sarton - 1955 - Speculum 30 (1):112-115.
  20. Encyclopedia of Chinese BiographyChung Kuo Jen Ming Ta Tz'u Tien.Yuen Ren Chao - 1923 - Isis 5 (2):446-447.
  21. Why Three Heads Are a Better Bet Than Four: A Reply to Sun, Tweney, and Wang.Ulrike Hahn & Paul A. Warren - 2010 - Psychological Review 117 (2):706-711.
  22. A Study on Chinese Confucian Classics and Neo‐Confucianism in the Song‐Ming Dynasties, Volumes 1 and 2. By Cai Fanglu.Pan Song & Chung‐Ying Cheng - 2014 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 41 (S1):757-761.
  23. Mou Zongsan's New Confucian Democracy.David Elstein - 2012 - Contemporary Political Theory 11 (2):192-210.
  24. Nerve/Nurses of the Cosmic Doctor: Wang Yang-Ming on Self-Awareness as World-Awareness.Joshua M. Hall - 2016 - Asian Philosophy 26 (2):149-165.
    ABSTRACTIn Philip J. Ivanhoe’s introduction to his Readings from the Lu-Wang School of Neo-Confucianism, he argues convincingly that the Ming-era Neo-Confucian philosopher Wang Yang-ming was much more influenced by Buddhism than has generally been recognized. In light of this influence, and the centrality of questions of selfhood in Buddhism, in this article I will explore the theme of selfhood in Wang’s Neo-Confucianism. Put as a mantra, for Wang “self-awareness is world-awareness.” My central image for this mantra is the entire cosmos (...)
  25. He, Jun 何俊, Construction of Southern Song Confucianism 南宋儒學建構.Lizhu Li - 2016 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 15 (1):131-134.
  26. A Brief Discussion on the Themes of Women’s Embroidery in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.Bingqing Gao - 2010 - Asian Culture and History 2 (2):71-81.
    Embroidery is a part of the needlework that is one of the four virtues of women in ancient times, including “appearance, speech, needlework and behavior”. The education of women in old times mainly focused on the "feminine virtues" and "needlework". Due to cultivation at an early age, the upper-class women were mostly clever and intelligent, and did not have to earn their own living. Because of the restraints of the traditional society, they could not devote too much of their time (...)
  27. The Goose Lake Monastery Debate.Julia Ching - 2013 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 40 (3-4):189-204.
  28. Two Kinds of Oneness: Cheng Hao’s Letter on Calming Nature in Contrast with Zhang Zai’s Monism.Zemian Zheng - 2015 - Philosophy East and West 65 (4):1253-1272.
  29. Is Liberalism the Only Way Toward Democracy?Brooke A. Ackerly - 2005 - Political Theory 33 (4):547-576.
    This article identifies a foundation for Confucian democratic political thought in Confucian thought. Each of the three aspects emphasized is controversial, but supported by views held within the historical debates and development of Confucian political thought and practice. This democratic interpretation of Confucian political thought leads to an expectation that all people are capable of ren and therefore potentially virtuous contributors to political life; an expectation that the institutions of political, social, and economic life function so as to develop the (...)
  30. Reply to Joseph Chan.C. I. Jiwei - 2015 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 14 (4):593-595.
  31. Reply to Stephen C. Angle.Joseph Chan - 2014 - Philosophy East and West 64 (3):798-799.
  32. Rectify the Heart-Mind for the Art of Living: A Gongfu Perspective on the Confucian Approach to Desire.Peimin Ni - 2014 - Philosophy East and West 64 (2):340-359.
    Different from the commonly used moralistic perspective, this article articulates and evaluates major ideas about human desire within the Confucian tradition through a gongfu perspective, and shows that, although there are historical reasons for blaming Confucianism for suppressing human desires and suffocating humanity, what classic Confucianism advocates is ultimately about how to cultivate humanity, transform human desires, and live artistically, and not imposing a rigid normative moral system externally to constrain human life, making it unsatisfying.
  33. Dai Zhen’s Criticism and Misunderstanding of Zhu Xi’s Moral Theory.Zemian Zheng - 2015 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 14 (3):433-449.
    Dai Zhen 戴震 criticizes Song-Ming 宋明 Neo-Confucianism, especially Zhu Xi’s 朱熹 dichotomy between principle and desires and his claim that principle is received from Heaven and completely embodied in the heart/mind, as if Zhu advocates asceticism and ultra-intuitionism. This criticism culminates in the accusation of “using principle as a means of killing or persecuting people.” In this paper, I argue that Dai Zhen misunderstands Zhu Xi’s moral theory and does not do him justice. At some point Dai’s criticism is similar (...)
  34. Dunyi, Zhou.John Thompson - 2015
    Zhou Dunyi Zhou Dunyi has long been highly esteemed by Chinese thinkers. He is considered one of the first “Neo-Confucians,” a group of thinkers who draw heavily on Buddhist and Daoist metaphysics to articulate a comprehensive, Confucian religious … Continue reading Dunyi, Zhou →.
  35. Commentary on Cheng.Ruth Amossy - unknown
  36. Commentary on Cheng.Fred Kauffeld - unknown
  37. Zhang Zai's Philosophy of Qi: A Practical Understanding.Jung-Yeup Kim - 2015 - Lexington Books.
    Qi is one of the most important concepts in Chinese philosophy and culture, and neo-Confucian Zhang Zai plays a pivotal role in developing the notion. This book provides a thorough and proper understanding of his thoughts.
  38. From Zheng He to Koxinga - The Development of the Armed Sea-Merchant Group of Late Ming Dynasty and Their Effort to Defend the Sea-Power.Zilai Zeng - 2015 - Asian Culture and History 7 (2).
  39. Personal Identity, Moral Agency and Liang-Zhi: A Comparative Study of Korsgaard and Wang Yangming.Tzu-li Chang - unknown
  40. Song Yuan Ming Qing Ru Xue Nian Biao.Tenpåo Imazeki - 2002
  41. Ming Hsüeh Yü Pien Hsüeh.Ch ing-T. Ien Ts ui - 1997
  42. Wang T Ing-Hsiang Ho Ming Tai Ch I Hsüeh.Jung-Chin Ko - 1990
  43. Wang Bi Si Xiang Yu Quan Shi Wen Ben.Yongsheng Tian - 2003
  44. Chüeh Ting Lun Ti Li Shih Ming Yün Hsien Tai K o Hsüeh Yü Pien Cheng Chüeh Ting Lun Ti Chien Kou.Yüan-Cheng P. Ang - 1996
  45. Cheng Ren Yu Cheng Sheng Ru Jia Lun Li Dao de Jing Cui.Kailin Tang & Huaicheng Zhang - 1999
  46. Du Weiming Wen Ming de Chong Tu Yu Dui Hua.Wei-Ming Tu, Hanmin Zhu & Yongming Xiao - 2001
  47. Essentials of Neo-Confucianism Eight Major Philosophers of the Song and Ming Periods.Siu-chi Huang - 1999
  48. Wan Ming Zi Wo Guan Yan Jiu.Xiaofan Fu - 2001
  49. Sung Ming Li Hsüeh Lo Chi Chieh Kou Ti Yen Hua.Li-wen Chang - 1993
  50. Ming Dai Zhi Shi Jie Jiang Xue Huo Dong Xi Nian, 1522-1602.Zhen Wu - 2003
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