From Zhuangzi to Ji Kang: New Perspectives on Sheng and Qi

Vol. 44 No. 1   3/2014    


From Zhuangzi to Ji Kang: New Perspectives on Sheng and Qi


Wu, Kuan-hung









Key words

Ji Kang, xuanxue (metaphysics), Zhuangzi, Qi theory, Sheng wu aile lun


        The influence of Tang Yongtong’s seminal study of xuanxue has been farreaching, and most later scholars working on xuanxue have endorsed his general approach. Two important exceptions to this trend are the studies of Cen Yicheng and Xie Daning. Cen Yicheng suggested that Ji Kang’s dialectical thinking embodied Zhuangzi’s notion of wu, whereas Xie Daning reevaulated the value of Ji Kang’s metaphysics in terms of Lao-Zhuang thought. Both scholars adopted an approach that differed from Tang Yongtong’s, and despite certain shortcomings, their research has pioneered a direction of study different from that found in previous work on Ji Kang.

        Discourse on qi during the Wei-Jin period has been seen as being embedded in traditional Confucian thinking, and, for this reason, it has received little scholarly attention. This study asserts that a new line of inquiry into how qi was viewed during this era is needed, and it seeks to accomplish this by focusing on the concepts of sheng and qi. On the one hand, it traces how Zhuangzi conceived of the relationship between these two notions. On the other hand, it considers how Ji Kang’s Sheng wu aile lun developed the theoretical and practical aspects of the connection between qing and qi. It moreover explains how his discourse on qi differed from the notions of you and wu espoused by Wang Bi and Guo Xiang.

       This investigation of Ji Kang’s metaphysics first examines his view of qing before turning to an analysis of his conception of qi. In contrast to my previous research, which elucidated the relationship between sheng and qing, this article explores how sheng and qi relate to one another. It also seeks to reevalaute Ji Kang’s status in the history of xuanxue with a view of leading Wei-Jin Neo-Daoist studies to scale heights.



Author: Wu, Kuan-hung
Genre: Article