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


A Critique of Huang Tsung-his’s Interpretations of the “Four Maxims

Vol. 28 No. 4   6/1998  


A Critique of Huang Tsung-his’s Interpretations of the “Four Maxims”


Simon M. Wong









Key words

The “Four Maxims”, the “highest good”, the “absence of good and evil”


      Huang Tsung-hsi (1610-1695) was an intellectual his torian and Confucian thinker in the late Ming and early Ching period of China. His interpretations of the well-known doctrine of the “Four Maxims” of Wang Yang-ming (1472-1529), the great Confucian thinker, reflects an important aspect of difference between the two philosophers. Huang had two kinds of interpretations of the doctrine. One of them is his denial of the doctrine as a consistent teaching belonging to Wang Yang-ming. The other is that he tried to defend the doctrine as Wang Yang-ming’s teaching against other critics. The former is an idea that Huang inherited from his mentor, Liu Tsung-chou (1578-1645), whereas the latter represents his final judgement on the doctrine. The author of this article believes that, in either case, Huang fails to interpret the “Four Maxims” correctly. The main reason of this failure is that, in upholding the “highest good” as ultimate doctrine of Confucian teaching. Huang did not recognize that in Wang Yang-ming’s philosophy, the notion of the “absence of good and evil” has status equal to that of the “highest good”.



Author: Simon M. Wong
Genre: Article
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