Reconstructing the Confucian Dao

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Transcript of Reconstructing the Confucian Dao

  • Reconstructing the Confucian Dao

  • SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture

    Roger T. Ames, editor

  • Reconstructing the


    Zhu Xis Appropriation

    of Zhou Dunyi


    State University of New York Press

  • Published by

    State University of New York Press, Albany

    2014 State University of New York

    All rights reserved

    Printed in the United States of America

    No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever

    without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval

    system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electro-

    static, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without

    the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

    For information, contact State University of New York Press, Albany,

    Production and book design, Laurie SearlMarketing, Michael Campochiaro

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Adler, Joseph Alan.

    Reconstructing the Confucian Dao : Zhu Xis appropriation of Zhou Dunyi /

    Joseph A. Adler.

    pages cm. (SUNY series in Chinese philosophy and culture)

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    ISBN 978-1-4384-5157-2 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Zhou, Dunyi, 10171073.

    2. Neo-Confucianism. 3. Zhu, Xi, 11301200. I. Title.

    B128.C44A63 2014

    181'.112dc23 2013025545

    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  • For Ruth and Anna

  • Contents

    ix Acknowledgments

    PART I

    3 Introduction

    15 Chapter 1: Zhu Xi, Zhou Dunyi, and the Confucian dao

    37 Chapter 2: Zhou Dunyis Role in the daotong

    77 Chapter 3: The Interpenetration of Activity and Stillness

    111 Chapter 4: Taiji as Supreme Polarity

    137 Conclusions

    PART II: Translations of Zhou Dunyis Major Works and Zhu Xis Commentaries, with Further Discussions by Zhu Xi and His Students

    147 Introduction

    151 Chapter 5: The Supreme Polarity Diagram (Taijitu )

  • v i i i Contents

    167 Chapter 6: Discussion of the Supreme Polarity Diagram (Taijitu shuo )

    203 Chapter 7: Penetrating the Scripture of Change (Tongshu )

    299 Chapter 8: Zhu Xis Postfaces and Notes

    309 Bibliography

    323 Index

  • Acknowledgments

    I remember the precise moment when I began to look into Zhu Xis appropriation of Zhou Dunyi. It was in Taipei, in February 1990, and I was sitting in a bare ofce at National Taiwan University with my hands poised over the keyboard of an old (even at the time) IBM-compatible PC. I had not yet decided which of two options to pursue under my Language and Research fellowship at the Inter-University Program in Chinese Language Studies: to revise my dissertation for publication, or to look further into Zhu Xis use of Zhou Dunyis texts, a topic that I had touched on in the dissertation. Finding the latter more intriguing, I began translating Zhus commentary on Zhous Tongshu. The work continued sporadically over the intervening two decades, as other writing projects pushed it to the back burner. I am extremely grateful to the Inter-University Program and the Academia Sinica Committee on Scientic and Scholarly Cooperation with the U.S.A. for providing that fellowship. In 1994 I received a grant from the Pacic Cultural Foundation to continue work on the translation (Part II of this book), and in 2008 I received a Scholar Grant from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation to support the writing of Part I. For both, and for my 200809 sabbatical leave from Kenyon College, I am extremely grateful.

    I also wish to express my heartfelt thanks to those who provided feedback at various stages of this project: the late Professor Yang Youwei of Taipei, who helped me with the earliest stages of the translation; Kidder Smith Jr. and the participants in the New England Symposium on Chinese Thought at Bowdoin College for their comments in 1992 on my rst attempt to make sense of Zhu Xis appropriation of Zhou Dunyi (ultimately a dead end); Philip J. Ivanhoe, for his detailed written comments in 1999 on the paper I read at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting in Washington, D.C. (the rst


  • x Acknowledgments

    statement of this books argument); Hoyt Tillman for organizing that panel at the AAS and Robert Gimello for his comments as discussant; Daniel Gardner for his supportive comments and his several examples of excellent studies and translations of Zhu Xi; Conrad Schirokauer for his penetrating comments on the whole manuscript, Steve Angle for inviting me to participate in the Neo-Confucianism and Global Philosophy Conference at Wesleyan University in 2006; my Kenyon colleague Yang Xiao for invaluable help on a number of translation problems; Kirill Thompson for reading the entire rst draft of Part I and providing excellent and detailed feedback; and Tu Weiming for rst challenging me to work on Zhu Xi way back in 1979. Finally, I would like to thank Laurie Searl at SUNY Press for her excellent work on this project.

  • Part I

  • Introduction

    The story of the early development of Neo-Confucianismthe revival of Confucianism in Song dynasty China (9601279), after eight hundred years during which Buddhism and Daoism had dominated the religious landscapehas taken pretty much a standard form ever since the late twelfth century.1 It begins with Zhou Dunyi (10171073), who contributed three major items to the tradition: the Taiji Diagram (Taijitu ); a Discussion of the Taiji Diagram (Taijitu shuo , usually translated as Explanation); and a longer text called (in very loose translation) Penetrating the Scripture of Change (Tongshu ).2 The Discussion is said to provide


    1. Some of the most familiar histories in English are Fung Yu-lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy; Carsun Chang, The Development of Neo-Confucian Thought; and Wing-tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy.

    2. The Scripture of Change is the Yijing , sometimes called the Classic or Book of Changes. I use Scripture because this text, like the rest of the so-called Five Classics (wujing ), were considered sacred texts by Confucians. Referring to them as Classics preserves the bias of nineteenth-century Protestant missionaries and translators who were unwilling to consider anything other than Christianity as a real religion. The Five Classics were therefore put in the same category as the classic literature of ancient Greece and Rome. Note also that jing was the word chosen to translate sutra from Sanskrit.

    Zhous texts are translated in Part II of this book. The diagram, the explanation, and the most important sections of the Tongshu can also be found in de Bary and Bloom, eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition, 2nd ed., vol. 1, 66978 (my translations).

  • 4 Reconstructing the Confucian Dao

    the cosmological basis of Neo-Confucian philosophycosmology in terms of qi (the psycho-physical stuff of which all things are composed), which has two modes of activity, yin (dark, moist, sinking, condensing) and yang (light, dry, rising, expanding).

    The story continues with Zhou acting as tutor to his two nephews, Cheng Hao (10321085) and Cheng Yi (10331107), for about a year when they were teenagers. The Cheng brothers then grow up to form the nucleus of a group of Confucian thinkers in the city of Luoyang, in north-central China (Henan province). The Chengs and their many disciples come to be known as the Luo schoolusually referred to in Western scholarship as the Cheng school. They become quite inuential in philosophical circles and are actively involved in government, especially as part of the conservative opposition to the reformist prime minister, Wang Anshi (10211086).

    About twenty years after Cheng Yi dies, comes a catastrophe. The capital, Kaifeng, is captured by the Jurchen, a nomadic ethnic group from the northeast. The emperor is abducted. The remaining court ees to the south and establishes a new Song capital in Linan (modern Hangzhou), but the northern half of their former domain is now ruled by the Jurchen. (The dynastic era is thenceforth divided into two parts, the Northern Song [9601127] and Southern Song, which was nally conquered by the Mongols in 1279.) Some of the Chengs disciples also move south and spread their teachings there. Zhu Xi (11301200), born three years after the loss of the north, studies with some third-generation Cheng disciples and eventually, after seriously irting with Buddhism, becomes committed to their school of thought and spreads their teachings prolically. He becomes even more inuential than the Cheng brothers, and his teachings eventually dominate those of his competitors. He combines the ideas of the Chengs and their associates with his own, creating a new synthesis called Daoxue (Learning of the Way)also called the school of principle (lixue ) or (preferably) the Cheng-Zhu school. While never without serious competition, this school dominates the later history of Chinese thought right up to the twentieth century, becoming in many peoples minds synonymous with Neo-Confucianism.

    This standard history is recognized by scholars today as at best a partial view of the development of Confucian thought and practice in the Song dynasty, which was much more varied than the simplied story allows. At worst it is a reductionistic identication of Neo-Confucianism with the Cheng-Zhu school aloneperhaps admitting the Lu-Wang school as a

  • 5Introduction

    counterpoint.3 It is no longer sufcient to limit the story to the Northern Song masters Zhou Dunyi, the Cheng brothers, Zhang Zai (10201077), Shao Yong (10121077),4 Zhu Xi, and Lu Jiuyuan (commonly