According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “Neo-Confucianism” is a general term used to refer to the renaissance of Confucianism during the Song dynasty (A.D. 960-1127) following a long period in which Buddhism and Daoism had dominated the philosophical world of the Chinese and also to the various philosophical schools of thought that developed as a result of that renaissance. Neo-Confucianism had its roots in the late Tang, came to maturity in the Northern and Southern Song periods, and continued to develop in the Yuan, Ming, and Qing periods. As a whole, Neo-Confucianism can best be understood as an intellectual reaction to the challenges of Buddhist and Daoist philosophy in which avowedly Confucian scholars incorporated Buddhist and Daoist concepts in order to produce a more sophisticated new Confucian metaphysics. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]
“With roots in the late Tang dynasty, the Confucian revival flourished in the Northern and Southern Song periods and continued in the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties that followed. The revived Confucianism of the Song period (often called Neo-Confucianism) emphasized self-cultivation as a path not only to self-fulfillment but to the formation of a virtuous and harmonious society and state. The revival of Confucianism in Song times was accomplished by teachers and scholar-officials who gave Confucian teachings new relevance. Scholar-officials of the Song such as Fan Zhongyan (989-1052) and Sima Guang (1019-1086) provided compelling examples of the man who put service to the state above his personal interest...The revival of Confucianism during the Chinese Renaissance of the Song dynasty is partly attributed to the printing of Confucian texts which helped spread the word of the philosophy to a greater number of people.
“As Neo-Confucianism developed, two trends of thought emerged out of the Southern Song philosopher and official Zhu Xi’s synthesis of the “learning of Principle” and the “Learning of the Mind and Heart.” Both trends agreed that all the myriad things of the universe are manifestations of a single “Principle” (li) and that this Principle is the essence of morality. By understanding the Principle that underlies the universe (just as Buddhists understood all things in the universe as manifestations of the single Buddha spirit), then, men may understand the moral principles that they must put into practice in order to achieve an ordered family, good government, and peace under heaven. The two trends of thought differed, however, on the way in which human beings are to understand Principle.
Good Websites and Sources on Confucianism: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu; Confucianism religioustolerance.org ; Religion Facts Confucianism Religion Facts ; Confucius .friesian.com ; Confucian Texts Chinese Text Project ; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy plato.stanford.edu; Cult of Confucius /academics.hamilton.edu ; ; Virtual Temple tour drben.net/ChinaReport; Wikipedia article on Chinese religion Wikipedia Academic Info on Chinese religion academicinfo.net ; Internet Guide to Chinese Studies sino.uni-heidelberg.de; Qufu Wikipedia Wikipedia Travel China Guide Travel China Guide ; UNESCO World Heritage Site: UNESCO
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History of Neo-Confucianism
According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “ There was a vigorous revival of Confucianism in the Song period. Confucian teachings were central to the civil service examination system, the identity of the scholar-official class, the family system, and political discourse. Confucianism had naturally changed over the centuries since the time of Confucius (ca. 500 B.C.). Confucius’s own teachings, recorded by his followers in the Analects, were still a central element, as were the texts that came to be called the Confucian classics, which included early poetry, historical records, moral and ritual injunctions, and a divination manual. But the issues stressed by Confucian teachers changed as Confucianism became closely associated with the state from about 100 B.C. on, and as it had to face competition from Buddhism, from the second century CE onward. Confucian teachers responded to the challenge of Buddhist metaphysics by developing their own account of the natural and human world. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University, Consultants Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer afe.easia.columbia.edu/song ]
Dr. Robert Eno of Indiana University wrote: “ The movement we now call Neo-Confucianism began during the 11th century. At that time, bitter factional disputes among “literati”at the center of government pitted reformers, championed by Wang Anshi (1021-1086), against traditionalists, led by Sima Guang (1019-1086). Although originally a contest between high-minded philosophies and ideals of governance, the followers of these two Prime Ministers competed with increasing viciousness as the favors of the Song Emperors swung from one approach to the other. Disillusioned by the fierceness of personal vindictiveness, a small group of men withdrew from the arena of political partisanship, to live as semi-hermits, remote from urban society. Five of these men (who were close relatives or friends, including two brothers and their uncle) became recognized as intellectual leaders of an alternative path for the Confucian tradition, one less concerned with issues of statecraft and more absorbed in metaphysical questions of the relationship between the forces of the cosmos and the ethical realm of human beings. These men came to be known as the “Five Masters.” Although they drew on ideas of earlier medieval Confucian intellectuals, such as the great Tang writer Han Yu, their teachings form the earliest core of Neo-Confucianism. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University, Chinatxt chinatxt /+/]
“The ideas of these five men were by no means alike in all respects, nor did they become influential in their own time. However, the intellectual and political confusion brought on by the loss of North China to Jurchen invaders in 1127 created an opportunity for the teachings of these men to come to the fore. An exceptional scholar named Zhu Xi (1130-1200) devoted himself to mastering these ideas, reconciling contradictions among them, and editing them into a new and coherent synthesis which became the basic structure of Neo-Confucian philosophy. /+/
“Zhu Xi’s system was initially resisted by power holders at the Southern Song court, and he himself was subject to political persecution. But a century after his death, his ideas had become so widespread that in 1313 the government of the succeeding Yuan Dynasty (1279.1368) proclaimed them to be the officially orthodox interpretations on the basis of which Imperial civil service examinations should be evaluated. From that time until the nineteenth century, Neo-Confucianism displaced all earlier forms of Confucianism. /+/
“Zhu Xi’s synthesis spurred many others to draw out more fully the implications of Neo-Confucian ideas, and a variety of approaches emerged over time. All orthodox Neo-Confucianism, however, adopted the basic dualism that Zhu Xi had found in the works of some of the Five Masters, viewing the cosmos as the interplay of Tian-guided “principle” (“l.”), and energy or “material force” (“qi”). /+/
“This Neo-Confucian orthodoxy came to be known as the “school of principle” (“l-xue”). During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), a brilliant scholar and charismatic civil and military leader named Wang Yangming rejected major aspects of the orthodox approach, focusing far more on Confucian traditions of ethical self-discovery which held that moral imperatives were to be found through reflection on one’s own spontaneously ethical responses, endowed in all people alike by Tian. Wang’s ideas not only sought moral answers in the heart/mind (“xin”), in a radically “idealist” philosophical move, Wang claimed that “all”experience was ultimately a product of the mind, rather than an interaction between human consciousness and objective existence. /+/
“Wang’s eminence as a politician and general, as well as the excitement of his philosophical ideas and their resonance with many of the most engaging ideas of Chan (Zen) Buddhism, attracted many followers, and his “school of the mind” (“xinxue”) quickly became a major challenge to the “school of principle” tradition. While it never displaced Zhu Xi Neo-Confucianism, its intellectual influence was very broad, spreading beyond China to Korea and, particularly, to Japan, where the teachings of Wang (known as Ō Yōmei in Japanese) became a dominant stream in Confucian thinking. /+/
Main Neo-Confucianist Figures (Song Dynasty, 960-1279): The “Five Masters” of the Northern Song (960-1127): A) Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073), B) Shao Yong (1011-1077), C) Zhang Zai (1020-1077), D) Cheng Hao (1032-1085) and E) Cheng Yi (1033-1107); The “Great Synthesizer” of the Southern Song (1127-1279): Zhu Xi (1130-1200). Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Figure: The founder of the “School of the Mind”: Wang Yangming (1472-1529).
Wolfram Eberhard wrote in “A History of China”: “Culturally the eleventh century was the most active period China had so far experienced, apart from the fourth century B.C. As a consequence of the immensely increased number of educated people resulting from the invention of printing, circles of scholars and private schools set up by scholars were scattered all over the country. The various philosophical schools differed in their political attitude and in the choice of literary models with which they were politically in sympathy. Thus Wang Anshi and his followers preferred the rigid classic style of Han Yu (768-825) who lived in the Tang period and had also been an opponent of the monopolistic tendencies of pre-capitalism. For the Wang Anshi group formed itself into a school with a philosophy of its own and with its own commentaries on the classics. As the representative of the small merchants and the small landholders, this school advocated policies of state control and specialized in the study and annotation of classical books which seemed to favour their ideas. [Source: “A History of China” by Wolfram Eberhard, 1951, University of California, Berkeley]
“But the Wang Anshi school was unable to hold its own against the school that stood for monopolist trade capitalism, the new philosophy described as Neo-Confucianism or the Song school. Here Confucianism and Buddhism were for the first time united. In the last centuries, Buddhistic ideas had penetrated all of Chinese culture: the slaughtering of animals and the executions of criminals were allowed only on certain days, in accordance with Buddhist rules. Formerly, monks and nuns had to greet the emperor as all citizens had to do; now they were exempt from this rule. On the other hand, the first Song emperor was willing to throw himself to the earth in front of the Buddha statues, but he was told he did not have to do it because he was the "Buddha of the present time" and thus equal to the God. Buddhist priests participated in the celebrations on the emperor's birthday, and emperors from time to time gave free meals to large crowds of monks. Buddhist thought entered the field of justice: in Song time we hear complaints that judges did not apply the laws and showed laxity, because they hoped to gain religious merit by sparing the lives of criminals. We had seen how the main current of Buddhism had changed from a revolutionary to a reactionary doctrine. The new greater gentry of the eleventh century adopted a number of elements of this reactionary Buddhism and incorporated them in the Confucianist system. This brought into Confucianism a metaphysic which it had lacked in the past, greatly extending its influence on the people and at the same time taking the wind out of the sails of Buddhism. The greater gentry never again placed themselves on the side of the Buddhist Church as they had done in the Tang period. When they got tired of Confucianism, they interested themselves in Taoism of the politically innocent, escapist, meditative Buddhism.
“Men like Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073) and Zhang Zai (1020-1077) developed a cosmological theory which could measure up with Buddhistic cosmology and metaphysics. But perhaps more important was the attempt of the Neo-Confucianists to explain the problem of evil. Confucius and his followers had believed that every person could perfect himself by overcoming the evil in him. As the good persons should be the élite and rule the others, theoretically everybody who was a member of human society, could move up and become a leader. It was commonly assumed that human nature is good or indifferent, and that human feelings are evil and have to be tamed and educated. When in Han time with the establishment of the gentry society and its social classes, the idea that any person could move up to become a leader if he only perfected himself, appeared to be too unrealistic, the theory of different grades of men was formed which found its clearest formulation by Han Yu: some people have a good, others a neutral, and still others a bad nature; therefore, not everybody can become a leader. The Neo-Confucianists, especially Cheng Hao (1032-1085) and Cheng Yi (1033-1107), tried to find the reasons for this inequality. According to them, nature is neutral; but physical form originates with the combination of nature with Material Force (ch'i). This combination produces individuals in which there is a lack of balance or harmony. Man should try to transform physical form and recover original nature. The creative force by which such a transformation is possible is jen, love, the creative, life-giving quality of nature itself.
“It should be remarked that Neo-Confucianism accepts an inequality of men, as early Confucianism did; and that jen, love, in its practical application has to be channelled by li, the system of rules of behaviour. The li, however, always started from the idea of a stratified class society. Zhu Xi (1130-1200), the famous scholar and systematizer of Neo-Confucian thoughts, brought out rules of behaviour for those burghers who did not belong to the gentry and could not, therefore, be expected to perform all li; his "simplified li" exercised a great influence not only upon contemporary China, but also upon Korea and Annam and there strengthened a hitherto looser patriarchal, patrilinear family system.
“The Neo-Confucianists also compiled great analytical works of history and encyclopaedias whose authority continued for many centuries. They interpreted in these works all history in accordance with their outlook; they issued new commentaries on all the classics in order to spread interpretations that served their purposes. In the field of commentary this school of thought was given perfect expression by Zhu Xi, who also wrote one of the chief historical works. Zhu Xi's commentaries became standard works for centuries, until the beginning of the twentieth century. Yet, although Zhu became the symbol of conservatism, he was quite interested in science, and in this field he had an open eye for changes.
Zhu Xi: the Voice of Neo-Confucianism
Zhu Xi (Chu Hsi, 1130-1200) was the most influential Neo-Confucian philosopher. He was a scholar during China’s Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279). His honorific title is Zhu Zi (Master Zhu).
According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: Zhu Xi “ is known for his synthesis of Neo-Confucian philosophy. However, his concerns went far beyond the abstractions of philosophy; his purpose was to change (and improve, from his point of view) family life, society, and government. To this end, Zhu Xi was active in the theory and practice of education and in the compiling of a practical manual of family ritual. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]
Zhu Xi’s philosophical doctrine explained the world systematically using the concepts of “qi” (vital force) and “li” (principle), and is thus commonly referred to as “the study of li” in China. Dr. Eno wrote: “Zhu Xi was a brilliant metaphysician..his theories of the cosmos and its relation to man’s ethical tendencies represent a wonderful example of philosophical imagination – but when successful candidates sought to apply Zhu’s cosmic theories of Heavenly Principle, material force, and the moral intuitions of the sage heart to the problems of tax collection, flood control, and militia organization, they sometimes found that he was a little sketchy on the details.” [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu /+/ ]
See Separate Article ZHU XI: THE INFLUENTIAL VOICE OF NEO-CONFUCIANISM factsanddetails.com
“Mind Is Principle” by Lu Jiuyuan
Song Neo-Confucian Lu Jiuyuan (1139-1193, also known as Lu Xiangshan) wrote: “Mencius said, “That wherein human beings differ from the birds and animals is but slight. The multitude of people relinquish it, while the noble person retains it.” It is what Heaven has endowed in us. All human beings have this mind, and all minds are endowed with this principle. The mind is principle. The affairs of the universe are my own affairs; my own affairs are the affairs of the universe. [Source: “Sources of Chinese Tradition,” compiled by Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 715-717; Asia for Educators, Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]
“The human mind is most intelligent, and principle is most clear. All people have this in mind and all minds contain this principle in full. The four directions and upward and downward constitute the spatial continuum. What has gone by in the past and what is to come in the future constitute the temporal continuum. These continua, or the universe, are my mind, and my mind is the universe. Sages appeared tens of thousands of generations ago. They shared this mind; they shared this principle. Sages will appear tens of thousands of generations to come. They will share this mind; they will share this principle. Over the four seas sages appear. They share this mind; they share this principle. [Xiangshan quanji 35:10a] What is relinquished is the mind. That is why Mencius said that some people “lose their original mind.” [Mencius 4B:19] What is to be preserved is the mind. That is why Mencius said, “the great man is he who does not lose the mind of a newborn babe.” [Mencius 4B:12] [What Mencius referred to as] the four sprouts [of pity and compassion, shame and aversion, modesty and compliance, and the sense of right and wrong] are this mind.
“The mind is one and principle is one. Perfect truth is always a unity; the essential principle is never a duality. The mind and principle can never be separated into two. That is why Confucius said, “In my Way there is one thing that runs throughout,”[Analects 4:15] and Mencius said, “The Way is one and only one.” [Mencius 3A:1, Quoting Confucius,] Mencius also said, “There are just two ways: being humane and being inhumane.” [Mencius 4A:2] To act in a certain way is humaneness. Not to act in a certain way is the opposite of humaneness. Humaneness is the mind, the principle. “Seek and you will get it” [Mencius 6A:6] means to get this principle. “Those who are first to know” know this principle, and “those who are first awakened” [Mencius 5A:7] are awakened to this principle. It is this principle that constitutes love for parents, reverence for elders, and the sense of alarm and commiseration when one sees a child about to fall into a well. It is this principle that makes people ashamed of shameful things and hate what should be hated.
“It is this principle that enables people to know what is right to be right and what is wrong to be wrong. It is this principle that makes people deferential when deference is due and humble when humility is called for. Reverent seriousness (“jing”) is this principle; rightness is this principle. And what is internal and what is external are all this principle. … Mencius said, “What people are able to do without having learned it is innate ability.
See Lu Jiuyuan (Lu Xiangshan), 1139-1193 Mind Is Principle [PDF] afe.easia.columbia.edu
Wang Yangming and His Philosophy
According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “The thinking surrounding the “Learning of the Mind and Heart” is most often identified with the Ming general and statesman Wang Yangming (1472-1529). Wang argued that inasmuch as every living thing is a manifestation of Principle, then one need not look outside oneself in order to understand Principle (and therefore morality): one should consult one’s own heart (or mind), wherein Principle surely lay. Since Principle is the basis of human nature, then it follows that anyone who understands his or her true nature understands the Principle of the universe. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]
In “Identification of Mind and Principle” Wang discusses the Mind/Principle relationship: “What Zhu Xi meant by the investigation of things is “to investigate the principle in things to the utmost as we come into contact with them.” To investigate the principle in things to the utmost as we come into contact with them means to search in each individual thing for its so-called definite principle. It means further that the principle in each individual thing is to be sought with the mind, thus separating the mind and principle into two. To seek for principle in each individual thing is like looking for the principle of filiality in parents. [Source: “The Identification of Mind and Principle” by Wang Yangming, from “Sources of Chinese Tradition,” compiled by Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999); Asia for Educators, Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ]
“If the principle of filiality is to be sought in parents, then is it actually in my own mind or is it in my parents? If it is actually in the person of my parents, is it true that as soon as parents pass away the mind will then lack the principle of filiality? When I see a child about to fall into a well [and have a feeling of commiseration], there must be the principle of commiseration. Is this principle of commiseration actually in the person of the child or is it in the innate knowledge of my mind? Perhaps one cannot follow the child into the well [to rescue it]. Perhaps one can rescue it by seizing it with the hand. All this involves principle. Is it really in the person of the child or does it emanate from the innate knowledge in my mind? What is true here is true of all things and events. From this we know the mistake of separating the mind and principle into two.”
See Wang Yangming, 1472-1529 Wang Yangming on the Unity of Knowing and Acting [PDF] afe.easia.columbia.edu
Wang Yangming on the Mind
Wang Yangming wrote: “The key to understanding does not lie in the world outside the mind: People fail to realize that the highest good is in their minds and seek it outside. As they believe that every thing or every event has some specific aspect of principle, they search for the highest good in individual things. Consequently, the mind becomes fragmentary, isolated, broken into pieces; mixed and confused, it has no definite direction. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University /+/ ]
“The outside world has no existence at all, independent of man’s mind: The innate knowledge of man is the same as that of plants and trees, tiles and stones.... Even Heaven and earth cannot exist without the innate knowledge that is inherent in man, for at bottom, Heaven, earth, the world of things, and man form one body. A friend pointed to flowering trees on a cliff and said, “You say there is nothing under heaven external to the mind. These flowering trees on the mountain blossom and drop their blossoms of 5 themselves; what have they to do with my mind?” The Teacher said, “Before you look at these flowers, they and your mind are in a state of silent vacuity. As you come to look at them, their colors at once appear clearly. From this you can know that the flowers are not external to your mind.”
“People need to eliminate any belief that separates the idea of knowledge from engaged action. Knowing in itself disposes us to action, as we can observe from examining our spontaneous responses: There have never been people who know but do not act. Those who are supposed to know but do not act simply do not know. Therefore, the "Great Learning" makes visible for us this link between true knowledge and action when it says, “It is like loving a beautiful color or hating a bad odor.” Seeing beautiful colors pertains to knowledge; loving beautiful colors pertains to action – but as soon as one sees a beautiful color one simultaneously loves it. You don’t see it first and then make up your mind to love it!... People today distinguish between knowledge and action and pursue them separately, believing that one must “know” before one can act.... Consequently, to the last day of life such people will never act and also never know. /+/
“What we need to know (understand deeply) the world and act in it lies in our natural minds: What emanates from the mind is the will. The original substance of the will is knowledge, and wherever the will is directed is a “thing” or “affair.” When the will is directed towards serving one’s parents, then serving one’s parents is the affair. When directed towards serving a ruler, then serving one’s ruler is the affair.... Therefore I say that there are neither principles nor things outside the mind.... The effort to make one’s bright virtue shine, described in the Great Learning, means nothing more than to make the will sincere and the work of making the will sincere is nothing other than “straightening out affairs.”
See Wang Yangming, 1472-1529 The Identification of Mind and Principle [PDF] See afe.easia.columbia.edu
“Cultural Confucianism” and Political Struggles in the 11th Century
Dr. Eno wrote: “The early Song leaders placed great emphasis on civil government, as opposed to military, and part of this involved active sponsorship of education and scholarship. The term for the civil aspects of society, "wen", denoted far more than the non-military features of the state. "wen" denoted the patterns of art and social refinement of the past, and the goal of perfecting “wen society” was not pictured in economic terms, it expressed the ambition to create a cultural flourishing that would reflect the essence of sage wisdom, as that was portrayed in the Confucian canonical texts. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University /+/ ]
“In pursuit of this goal, the imperial court commissioned massive compilations of literary compendia, encyclopedias, and histories, that could bring together the now thousand year-old traditions of the “Confucian” state. Scholarship – pure scholarship – enjoyed a prestige beyond anything seen in past eras. The government’s interest in recruiting scholar-officials through the exam system became increasingly focused on the credentials of scholarship, an ideal that naturally now incorporated the artistic elements of poetry and, increasingly, calligraphy and painting, that had become central to the profile of the "literatus". /+/
“In response to this direction of government ambition, each generation of examination candidates seemed to produce leading graduates whose scholarly virtuosity reached new heights. The intellectual history of the early Song is peopled by men whose encyclopedic knowledge and literary skill remain unsurpassed in later Chinese history. Since one’s standing in the examination results determined the level at which one’s official career would begin, many of these outstanding scholars became leaders of government, and naturally, they perpetuated this trend to demand increasingly deep scholarly credentials for the next generation of exam candidates.” /+/
“As the Cultural Confucians continued to raise the standards of classical scholarship demanded by the exams that qualified men for government service, the consequence was that the men who succeeded in earning government appointment were increasingly well screened for intelligence and ambition, but increasingly less familiar with the practical and technical aspects of society that they would be called upon to address once their quest for appointment was successful.” /+/
Sima Guang and “Cultural Confucianism”
Dr. Eno wrote: “One of the outstanding examples of this type of Confucian virtuoso was Sima Guang (1019-86), who became one of the main figures in the most devastating factional battle in the history of Chinese politics – a battle that so weakened the dynasty that it set the stage for its inability to resist the invasions of 1127 and the loss of North China. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University /+/ ]
“Sima Guang was an outstanding scholar as a young man, and attained the highest examination degree at the age of only nineteen. His official career was a success from the start, and he ultimately rose to the position of Prime Minister, the highest civil service office in Song China. As a high minister, he steered the government towards highly conservative policies, designed to reinforce the Confucian stress on personal virtue, reflected in mastery of canonical and historical texts, as the central criterion for public leadership. /+/
“But this is not what Sima Guang is best known for in Chinese history. When not attending to the heavy duties of his high offices, Sima Guang devoted himself to the compilation of a history of imperial China that could become the standard for educating all future emperors, and all young men aspiring to official careers. Sima Guang’s text, “ The Comprehensive Mirror for Governance”, was not only authoritative, it was and remains among the largest historical texts ever compiled, stretching over twenty volumes in modern editions. In this respect, Sima Guang resembles a Western conservative politician, known both for his accomplishments as Prime Minister and as author of voluminous, highly regard histories: Winston Churchill.
“Sima Guang’s culturally conservative approach to government represented the mainstream view among the elite of the Northern Song. Their focus was entirely on raising the scholarly and moral level of the highest tier of government leaders, and qualifications for leadership were conceived entirely in cultural terms. They were far less focused on the technical knowledge that might be needed to encourage and sustain the development of Song society in terms of economic growth, infrastructure building, and the maintenance of a capable military defense. Conservative Northern Song leaders of this type articulated a vision of “literati“ excellence that may be called “Cultural Confucianism,” for its emphasis on the link between governance and mastery of China’s cultural tradition. /+/
In “Comprehensive Mirror in Aid of Governance”, Sima Guang wrote: “The year 642, summer, fourth month. The Emperor Taizong spoke to the Imperial Censor Chu Suiliang saying, “Since you, Sir, are in charge of the Diaries of Action and Repose, may I see what you have written?” Suiliang replied, “The historiographers record the words and deeds of the ruler of men, noting all that is good and bad, in hopes that the ruler will not dare to do evil. But it is unheard of that the ruler himself should see what is written.” The emperor said, “If I do something that is not good, do you then record it also?” Suiliang replied, “My office is to wield the brush. How could I dare not to record it?” The Gentleman of the Yellow Gate Liu Ji added “Even if Suiliang failed to record it, everyone else in the empire would” — to which the emperor replied, “True.”
See Sima Guang, 1019-1086 Comprehensive Mirror in Aid of Governance [PDF] afe.easia.columbia.edu
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University, Chinatxt chinatxt /+/; Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu ; University of Washington’s Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, depts.washington.edu/chinaciv /=\; National Palace Museum, Taipei \=/; Library of Congress; New York Times; Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; China National Tourist Office (CNTO); Xinhua; China.org; China Daily; Japan News; Times of London; National Geographic; The New Yorker; Time; Newsweek; Reuters; Associated Press; Lonely Planet Guides; Compton’s Encyclopedia; Smithsonian magazine; The Guardian; Yomiuri Shimbun; AFP; Wikipedia; BBC. Many sources are cited at the end of the facts for which they are used.
Last updated September 2016