Xuanxue (simplified Chinese: 玄学; traditional Chinese: 玄學; pinyin: Xuánxué; Wade–Giles: Hsüan-hsüeh; literally: "mysterious learning"), Neo-Taoism, or Neo-Daoism is the focal school of thought in Chinese philosophy from the third to sixth century CE. Xuanxue philosophers combined elements of Confucianism and Taoism to reinterpret the Yijing, Daodejing, and Zhuangzi.

The name compounds xuan "black, dark; mysterious, profound, abstruse, arcane," occurs in the first chapter of the Lao-tzu. Xue "study, learn, learning," literally the "learning" or "study" of the "arcane," "mysterious," or "profound." In Modern Standard Chinese usage, xuanxue can mean "neo-Daoism," "Buddhism," "metaphysics," "spiritualism," or "mysticism".

French sinologist Terrien de Lacouperie (1845-1894) believed Neo-Daoism originally developed out of an amalgamation of "wonderism" (or Jixia Academy thought) and the philosophical Daoism of Laozi.[1]

Two influential Xuanxue scholars were Wang Bi and Guo Xiang, editors and leading commentators on the Daodejing and Zhuangzi, respectively. For instance, the Daodejing exists in two received versions named after the commentaries. While the "Heshang Gong version" explains textual references to Daoist meditation, the "Wang Bi version" does not. Richard Wilhelm said the Wang Bi commentary changed the Daodejing "from a compendiary of magical meditation to a collection of free philosophical aperçus."[2]


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  2. ^ Eduard Erkes (1945), Ho-Shang-Kung's Commentary on Lao-tse Part I, Artibus Asiae, Vol. 8, No. 2/4, p. 122.

External links

  • Neo-Taoism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Hsuan-Hsueh (Neo-Taoism), Overview of World Religions
  • Contemporary Chinese Studies of XIONG Shili (熊十力) LIU Junping 劉軍平; QIN Ping 秦平