About this topic
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 2010 challenges such an understanding. 

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 2010 criticizes the prevalent denomination of Zhang Zai’s metaphysics as a form of substance dualism. It provides an alternative perspective with persuasive argumentation.

Related categories

13 found
  1. added 2016-03-23
    Moral Reason, Moral Sentiments and the Realization of Altruism: A Motivational Theory of Altruism.JeeLoo Liu - 2012 - Asian Philosophy 22 (2):93-119.
    This paper begins with Thomas Nagel's (1970) investigation of the possibility of altruism to further examine how to motivate altruism. When the pursuit of the gratification of one's own desires generally has an immediate causal efficacy, how can one also be motivated to care for others and to act towards the well-being of others? A successful motivational theory of altruism must explain how altruism is possible under all these motivational interferences. The paper will begin with an exposition of Nagel's proposal, (...)
  2. added 2014-03-31
    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.Elizabeth Woo Li - 2010 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 9 (4):487-489.
  3. added 2014-03-20
    The Status of Cosmic Principle in Neo-Confucian Metaphysics.JeeLoo Liu - 2005 - 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 (...)
  4. added 2014-03-06
    A Revisionist Understanding of Zhang Zai's Development of Qi in the Context of His Critique of the Buddhist.Jung-Yeup Kim - 2010 - 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 (...)
  5. added 2014-03-05
    Readings From the Lu-Wang School of Neo-Confucianism (Review).JeeLoo Liu - 2011 - Philosophy East and West 61 (2):388-391.
  6. added 2014-03-04
    Between Mind and Trace — A Research Into the Theories on Xin 心 (Mind) of Early Song Confucianism and Buddhism.Shiling Xiang - 2011 - 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 (...)
  7. added 2012-06-11
    Filial Piety, Vital Power, and a Moral Sense of Immortality in Zhang Zai's Philosophy.Galia Patt-Shamir - 2012 - 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 (...)
  8. added 2012-03-08
    The Is-Ought Correlation in Neo-Confucian Qi-Realism.JeeLoo Liu - 2011 - Contemporary Chinese Thought 43 (1):60-77.
  9. added 2012-01-26
    Chang Tsai's Theory of Mind and its Metaphysical Basis.Tang Chün-I. - 1956 - Philosophy East and West 6 (2):113-136.
  10. added 2011-08-28
    Mou Zongsan and Tang Junyi on Zhang Zai's and Wang Fuzhi's Philosophies of Qi : A Critical Reflection.Wing-Cheuk Chan - 2011 - 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 (...)
  11. added 2011-08-26
    Zhang Zai.David Elstein - 2004 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  12. added 2011-08-26
    Ritual, Cosmology, and Ontology: Chang Tsai's Moral Philosophy and Neo-Confucian Ethics.Kai-Wing Chow - 1993 - Philosophy East and West 43 (2):201-228.
  13. added 2011-08-26
    The Thought of Chang Tsai (1020-1077).Ira E. Kasoff - 1984 - 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 (...)