The formation, development and evolution of neo-confucianism — with a focus on the doctrine of “stilling the nature” in the song period

Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (3):322-342 (2009)
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Abstract

The formation of the discourse of Neo-Confucianism 1 in the Song period was a result of the interactions between many social and cultural trends. In the development of the Neo-Confucian discourse, the Cheng brothers (Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi) played key roles with their charismatic thoughts and impelling personalities, while Zhu Xi pushed Neo-Confucian thought and discourse to a pinnacle with his broad knowledge and precise reasoning. In the warm discussions and debates between different schools and thoughts, the Neo-Confucian discourse proceeded towards completion and perfection, and evolved as contemporary topics and thinking modes changed. The essay argues that “ ding xing 定性 (stilling the nature)” was an important Neo-Confucian topic during the Song period. The doctrine of “stilling the nature” involves much central Neo-Confucian discourse such as the definition of xing 性 (human nature), the interior and exterior aspects of human nature, nature and qing 情 (feelings, sentiments), nature and xin 心 (mind, heart), nature and ren 仁 (benevolence, humanity, humaneness) and yi 义 (righteousness), nature and shi 事 (affair) or wu 物 (thing, object), the practice of preservation and cultivation, etc. Therefore, an examination of the formation, development and evolution of Neo-Confucianism is of great importance to the study of its early history.

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Renqiu Zhu
Xiamen University

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References found in this work

A source book in Chinese philosophy.Wing-Tsit Chan - 1963 - Princeton, N.J.,: Princeton University Press. Edited by Wing-Tsit Chan.
Song Ming li xue.Lai Chen - 1991 - Shanghai Shi: Hua dong shi fan da xue chu ban she.
Liang zhi xue de zhuan zhe: Nie Shuangjiang yu Luo Nian'an si xiang zhi yan jiu.Yuehui Lin - 2005 - Taibei Shi: Guo li Taiwan dai xue chu ban zhong xin.

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