On the Claim "All the people on the street are Sages"

Philosophy East and West 67 (2):419-440 (2017)

Puqun Li
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
The famous statement from the Neo-Confucian tradition, "All the people on the street are sages", is commonly believed to have first been made in a short poem by Zhu Xi about the famous Buddhist city of Quanzhou. In the poem, Zhu Xi writes: "This place has been called a Buddhist kingdom; all the people on the street are sages".1 However, the statement is more frequently attributed to another Neo-Confucian philosopher, Wang Yangming, and it is often alleged to be a typical claim in his teachings. The attribution of the claim to Wang Yangming and the philosophical significance of the claim for Wang's teachings may be partly due to passage 313 in the Chuanxilu 传习录...
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DOI 10.1353/pew.2017.0033
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