Confucian Statecraft in Song China: Ye Shi and the Yongjia School

Dissertation, Arizona State University (1998)
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Abstract

The study discusses Ye Shi and the Yongjia school, the Confucian statecraft school in Southern Song China. ;Examining the philosophies of Ye Shi and Zhu Xi , along with the evolution of their intellectual relationship, the study indicates that the two scholars had essentially different positions on the priority of the Way and material embodiments , as well as their different views of Ultimate and the Ultimate of Non-being . Disagreeing with Zhu Xi's efforts to direct the development of Song Confucianism, Ye Shi criticized Zhu's version of the tradition of the dao; moreover, he claimed his own views truly represented the teachings of Confucius. ;Ye Shi and Lu Jiuyuan had similar experiences, even similar views on some statecraft issues, particularly financial management and the administration of clerks. However, Ye Shi and Lu Jiuyuan had different understandings of the investigation of things and related issues. Instead of seeking spiritual cultivation of the mind, Ye Shi argued that the investigation of things should achieve a harmony in the interactions between one's mind and the actual entities external to one's self. Criticizing Lu Jiuyuan's claim that sudden enlightenment was crucial to one's approach to investigating things, Ye Shi asserted that the interaction between the five senses of the human body and human "thinking" provided the only path toward apprehension of knowledge and wisdom. ;In current studies of Song Confucianism, Ye Shi is always coupled with Chen Liang because of their shared stance on some national political and economic issues, and their criticisms of the Daoxue movement. Both scholars advocated protecting the interests of wealthy people, i.e., merchants and gentry, in the local community, but the study also shows their different starting points. Chen Liang focused more on how to enhance the interests of merchants, while Ye Shi focused more on how the government could reap benefits from wealthy people. With their similar experiences in the Song intellectual community, both scholars criticized the exclusiveness of the Daoxue fellowship and plead for tolerance of diversity. The study further explores the reasons that the two scholars could not unite as one group to compete with Daoxue. For instance, from his own perspective of a balance between integrity and utility, Ye Shi saw Chen Liang as going to an extreme in pursuing sociopolitical consequences. Ye Shi and Chen Liang came to different conclusions about how to contend for Confucian legitimacy in the face of growing pressure from the Daoxue community. ;By discussing Ye Shi's life and his interactions with the Southern Song intellectual community, the study argues that the Yongjia school was a statecraft school in the Song dynasty. Catalysts for the development of the Yongjia school included the invasion by the Jurchen Jin, deterioration of government administration, pressures from the ascendancy of the Daoxue movement, and Ye Shi's methodology for synthesizing Yongjia traditions. However, changes in social mobility, failures of Song governmental practices, and inconsistencies within Ye Shi's teaching contributed to the rapid decline of the Yongjia school. Thus, the study provides a corrective to current views about the Yongjia school and Ye Shi

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Song-Ming Confucianism.Justin Tiwald - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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