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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Matteo Ricci and Xie Zhaozhe

Vol. 41 No. 2   06/2011    


Matteo Ricci and Xie Zhaozhe


Hsu, Kuang-tai  









Key words

Matteo Ricci, Tienzhu Shiyi, Xie Zhaozhe, Wu Za Zu, Xiong Mingyu, evidential study on natural knowledge


         In the Wanli 萬曆 era, Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) came to China to preach Catholicism. He introduced western natural knowledge into China, thereby challenging China’s traditional natural knowledge. Between 1609 and 1610, Ricci and Xie Zhaozhe謝肇淛 (1567-1624) were both in Beijing. Nevertheless, they seemed not meet each other. By analyzing the development of three Xie’s works on collected notes from Chen Yu 塵餘 and Wen Hai Phi Sha 文海披沙 to Wu Za Zu ‏五雜組, the author finds that Ricci had some influence on Xie. Xie not only mentioned that he had seen the mechanical chime clock Ricci had given Emperor Wanli, but had also read his Tianzhu Shiyi 天主實義 (True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven). This suggests that Ricci’s work has had some impact on Xie’s Wu Za Zu. In particular, Xie have shared Ricci’s criticism of Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucianism. Perhaps under the influence of Ricci’s challenge of China’s traditional natural knowledge, Xie deemed much Chinese traditional natural knowledge without evidence. In this respect, he becomes a pioneer of evidential study on natural knowledge in early 17th century and may in turn have influenced Xiong Mingyu 熊明遇 (1579-1649) who criticizes much Chinese traditional natural knowledge without evidence in his works Ze Cao 則草 (A Draft on Regularity) and Gezhi Cao 格致草A Draft on the Investigation of Things).



Author: Hsu, Kuang-tai
Genre: Article
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