|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.