An Introduction to Confucianism (Introduction to Religion)

An Introduction to Confucianism (Introduction to Religion)

Xinzhong Yao

Language: English

Pages: 361

ISBN: 0521644305

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Taking into account the long history and wide range of Confucian Studies, this book introduces Confucianism - initiated in China by Confucius (551 BC-479 BC) - primarily as a philosophical and religious tradition. It pays attention to Confucianism in both the West and the East, focussing on the tradition's doctrines, schools, rituals, sacred places and terminology, but also stressing the adaptations, transformations and new thinking taking place in modern times. Xinzhong Yao presents Confucianism as a tradition with many dimensions and as an ancient tradition with contemporary appeal. This gives the reader a richer and clearer view of how Confucianism functioned in the past and of what it means in the present. A Chinese scholar based in the West, he draws together the many strands of Confucianism in a style accessible to students, teachers, and general readers interested in one of the world's major religious traditions.











that ‘Confucian teachings stood for a specific content, involving ideas and actions morally and socially useful to a Confucian society’ (Birdwhistell, 1996: 81). Li rejected Zhu Xi’s interpretation of gewu ( ) of the Great Learning as theoretically ‘investigating things’ and maintained that gewu meant ‘to practice a thing with one’s own hand’ in relation to such tasks as the exemplification of the illustrious virtue, loving the people, (making) one’s thoughts (sincere), (rectifying) the

State University of New York Press. (1991) ‘A Confucian Perspective on the Rise of Industrial East Asia’, in Silke Krieger and Rolf Trauzettel (eds.). Confucianism and the Modernization of China, Mainz: v. Hase & Koehler Verlang, pp. 29–41. (1993a) Way, Learning and Practices: Essays on the Confucian Intellectuals, Albany: State University of New York Press. (1993b) Confucianism, in Arvind Sharma (ed.), Our Religions, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, pp. 139–227. (1996a) Xiandai

human beings ( ziran). In general, Confucianism is believed to emphasise the former and Daoism the latter. Central to the debates was whether these two sides should be separated or be related, and how to interpret their similarities and dif- ferences. Three theses were put forward and each implied a diCerent attitude towards Confucian Learning and Confucian virtues. Paul Demieville sees Mysterious Learning as the ‘halfway between Confu- cianism and Taoism’ (Twitchett & Loewe, 1986: 829),

believed that the state, the people and Confucian Learning would benefit greatly from this unification. It was Chong Yak-yong (better known as Dasan, 1762–1836), the greatest Confucian scholar after T’oegye and Yulgok, who combined the practical spirit and Confucian Learning, and reoriented Confucian scholarship towards social and political realities. Dasan identified the deficiencies in Zhu Xi’s inter- pretations and called for a return to original Confucian classics. He espe- cially

Middle Way. Some Neo-Confucians made use of the clearness and opacity of water to illustrate how good and evil are related and why evil would come into being. Water is originally clear. As streams flow to the sea, some become dirty. Some become extremely muddied while others only slightly so (Zhang Zai, in Chan, 1963a: 528). Cheng Yi interpreted this to mean that evil is not the essence but a 164 The Way of Confucianism manifestation of the heart/mind: ‘The mind is originally good. As it

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