From the Chu Tzu Yü-Lei (1270) to the Chu-Tzu Ch 'üan-Shu (1714): Change and Stability of Orthodox Ch'eng-Chu Learning*

Vol. 38 No. 3   9/2008    


From the Chu Tzu Yü-Lei (1270) to the Chu-Tzu Ch 'üan-Shu (1714): Change and Stability of Orthodox Ch'eng-Chu Learning*


Yung Sik Kim


Research Notes 







Key words

Chu Hsi, Chu-tzu yü-lei, Chu-tzu ch'üan-shu, Chéng-Chu School


  In an influential paper published in 1975, Wing-tsit Chan found several new trends in seventeenth-century Ch'eng-Chu orthodoxy: increased emphasis on the concrete topics at the cost of such metaphysical concepts as human nature (hsing '), decree (ming ), li , and ch'i ; more rationalistic trends; and stronger adherence to the idea of tao-t'ung 道統Chan's claims have gone largely unchallenged since they were made nearly three decades ago, although there have been significant works on various aspects of the early Ch'ing period.

  In this paper, I will re-examine the shifts in priorities and emphases of orthodox Ch'eng-Chu learning by comparing two important compilations of the thirteenth and the eighteenth centuries: the Chu-tzu yü-lei 朱子語類and the Chu-tzu ch'üan-shu 朱子全書The result of my study yields a picture more nuanced than what Wing-tsit Chan found in his study of the shift from the Hsing-li ta-ch'uan 性理大全to the Hsing-li ching-i 性理精義. To be sure, many of Chan's findings are reconfirmed: the Ch'üan -shu did show an increased rationalistic spirit, did contain more concrete scientific knowledge, and did emphasize the importance of the method of learning. At the same time, however, the traditional Confucian concerns of human nature and li (hsing-li)li-ch'i, and kuei-shen (and the supreme ultimate and yin-yang within the category of li-ch 'i) were still important. The basic orientation─priorities and em phases─of the orthodox thought of the Ch'eng-Chu School turns out to have not changed very much after all, at least in the government-initiated compilations of the orthodox Ch'eng-Chu Confucians.



Author: Yung Sik Kim
Genre: Research Notes