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


The Transmission and Translation of Important Terms of Western Categories in Late Ming: From Ricci's The True Meaning of the Lord to Ming Li Tan

Vol. 35 No. 2   12/2005    


The Transmission and Translation of Important Terms of Western Categories in Late Ming: From Ricci’s The True Meaning of the Lord to Ming Li TIan


Kuang-tai Hsu









Key words

Late Ming, Aristotle, Porphyry, Categories, Matteo Ricci, The True Meaning of the Lord, gewu qiongli, classics and logic, Giulio Aleni, Xixue Fan, François Furtado, Li Zhi -zhao, Ming Li Taη


       In late Ming, while Jesuits came to propagate Christianity in China, they also transmitted western learning, including Ming Li Tan (名理探), a work concerning Aristotelian Categories published in 1631. This paper aims at investigating the transmission and translation of important terms of western categories related to the Ming Li Tan from a cross-cultural viewpoint. The author finds that in late Ming, when Jesuit Christianized Aristotelian worldview encountered Zhu Xi's Neo-Confucianism, Matteo Ricci opened two aspects of the transmission of western categories in The True Meaning of the Lord (天主實義). In the broad aspect, he redefined “gewu qiongli" (the investigation of things and fathoming of principles) in terms of scholastic philosophy, and transmitted western learning in the name of “gewu qiongli." In the Xixue Fan (西學凡 A General Account of the Western Learning), Giulio Aleni included most of western learning in the domain of “gewu qiongli," including logic. Ming Li Tan is also translated in this context for the purpose of reasoning the existence of the first cause, i.e., the Creator. In the narrow aspect, in order to criticize 'li', or ‘the Supreme Ultimate' which cannot be regarded as the origin of Heaven, Earth and myriad things, Ricci introduced the Aristotelian ten categories and translated them by means of Chinese classic terms. He is the pioneer of connecting Chinese classics with western logic. Later, on the basis founded by Ricci, Aleni, Furtado and Li Zhi-zhao made their own modifications of important terms of western categories.



Author: Kuang-tai Hsu
Genre: Article
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