October 18, 1130|
Youxi, Fujian Province, China
April 23, 1200
Courtesy title: 元晦 Yuánhuì
Alias (号): 晦庵 Huì Àn
|Alternative Chinese name|
|Literal meaning||"Master Zhu"|
Zhu Xi or Chu Hsi (Chinese: 朱熹, October 18, 1130 – April 23, 1200) was a Song dynasty Confucian scholar who was the leading figure of the School of Principle and the most influential rationalist Neo-Confucian in China. His contributions to Chinese philosophy including his assigning special significance to the Analects, the Mencius, the Great Learning, and the Doctrine of the Mean (the Four Books), his emphasis on the investigation of things (gewu), and the synthesis of all fundamental Confucian concepts, formed the basis of Chinese bureaucracy and government for over 700 years. He has been called the second most influential thinker in Chinese history, after Confucius himself.
- Life 1
- The Four Books 2.1
- Vital force (qi 氣), principle (li 理), and the Supreme Ultimate (taiji 太極) 2.2
- Human nature 2.3
- Heart/mind 2.4
- Knowledge and action 2.5
- The investigation of things and the extension of knowledge 2.6
- Religion 2.7
Zhu Xi, whose family originated in Wuyuan County, Huizhou (in modern Jiangxi province), was born in Fujian, where his father worked as the subprefectural sheriff. After his father was forced from office due to his opposition to the government appeasement policy towards the Jurchen in 1140, Zhu Xi received instruction from his father at home. Upon his father's death in 1143, he studied with his father's friends Hu Xian, Liu Zihui, and Liu Mianzhi. In 1148, at the age of 19, Zhu Xi passed the Imperial Examination and became a presented scholar. Zhu Xi's first official dispatch position was as Subprefectural Registrar of Tong'an (同安縣主簿), which he served from 1153 - 1156. From 1153 he began to study under Li Tong, who followed the Neo-Confucian tradition of Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi, and formally became his student in 1160. In 1179, after not serving in an official capacity since 1156, Zhu Xi was appointed Prefect of Nankang Military District (南康軍), where he revived White Deer Grotto Academy (白鹿洞書院). and got demoted 3 years later for attacking the incompetency and corruption of some influential officials. There were several instances of receiving an appointment and subsequently being demoted. Upon dismissal from his last appointment, he was accused of numerous crimes and a petition was made for his execution. Even though his teachings had been severely attacked by establishment figures, almost a thousand brave people attended his funeral. In 1208, eight years after his death, Emperor Ningzong of Song rehabilitated Zhu Xi and honored him with the posthumous name of Wen Gong (文公), meaning “Venerable gentleman of culture”. Around 1228, Emperor Lizong of Song honored him with the posthumous noble title Duke of (State) Hui (徽國公). In 1241, a memorial tablet to Zhu Xi was placed in the Confucian Temple at Qufu, thereby elevating him to Confucian sainthood. Today, Zhu Xi is venerated as one of the "Twelve Philosophers" (十二哲) of Confucianism. Modern Sinologists and Chinese often refer to him as Zhu Wen Kung (朱文公) in lieu of his name.
The Four Books
During the Song Dynasty, Zhu Xi's teachings were considered to be unorthodox. Rather than focusing on the I Ching like other Neo-Confucians, he chose to emphasize the Four Books: the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Analects of Confucius, and the Mencius as the core curriculum for aspiring scholar officials. For all these classics he wrote extensive commentaries that were not widely recognized in his time; however, they later became accepted as the standard commentaries. The Four Books served as the basis of civil service examinations up until 1905, and education in the classics often began with Zhu Xi's commentaries as the cornerstone for understanding them.
Vital force (qi 氣), principle (li 理), and the Supreme Ultimate (taiji 太極)
Zhu Xi maintained that all things are brought into being by the union of two universal aspects of reality: qi, sometimes translated as vital (or physical, material) force; and li, sometimes translated as rational principle (or law). The source and sum of li is the Taiji (Wade-Giles: T‘ai Chi), meaning the Supreme Ultimate. The source of qi (Wade-Giles: ch‘i) is not so clearly stated by Zhu Xi, leading some authorities to maintain that he was a metaphysical monist and others to maintain that he was a metaphysical dualist.
According to Zhu Xi's theory, every physical object and every person has its li and therefore has contact in its metaphysical core with the Taiji. What is referred to as the human soul, mind, or spirit is understood as the Taiji, or the supreme creative principle, as it works its way out in a person.
Qi and li operate together in mutual dependence. They are mutually aspective in all creatures in the universe. These two aspects are manifested in the creation of substantial entities. When their activity is waxing (rapid or expansive), that is the yang energy mode. When their activity is waning (slow or contractive), that is the yin energy mode. The yang and yin phases constantly interact, each gaining and losing dominance over the other. In the process of the waxing and waning, the alternation of these fundamental vibrations, the so-called five elements (fire, water, wood, metal, and earth) evolve. Zhu Xi argues that li existed even before Heaven and Earth 
In terms of li and qi, Zhu Xi's system strongly resembles Buddhist ideas of li (again, principle) and shi (affairs, matters), though Zhu Xi and his followers strongly argued that they were not copying Buddhist ideas. Instead, they held, they were using concepts already present long before in the I Ching.
Zhu Xi discussed how he saw the Supreme Ultimate concept to be compatible with principle of Taoism, but his concept of Taiji was different from the understanding of Tao in Daoism. Where Taiji is a differentiating principle that results in the emergence of something new, Dao is still and silent, operating to reduce all things to equality and indistinguishability. He argued that there is a central harmony that is not static or empty but was dynamic, and that the Supreme Ultimate is itself in constant creative activity.
Zhu Xi considered the earlier Confucian Xun Zi to be a heretic for departing from Mencius' idea of innate human goodness. Even if people displayed immoral behaviour, the supreme regulative principle was good. The cause of immoral actions is qi. Zhu Xi's metaphysics is that everything contains li and qi. Li is the principle that is in everything and governs the universe. Each person has a perfect li. As such, individuals should act in perfect accordance with morality. However, while li is the underlying structure, qi is also part of everything. Qi obscures our perfect moral nature. The task of moral cultivation is to clear our qi. If our qi is clear and balanced, then we will act in a perfectly moral way.
Clarity of mind and purity of heart are ideal in Confucian philosophy. In the following poem, "Reflections While Reading - 1" Zhu Xi illustrates this concept by comparing the mind to a mirror, left covered until needed that simply reflects the world around it, staying clear by the flowing waters symbolizing the Tao. In Chinese, the mind was sometimes called "the square inch," which is the literal translation of the term alluded to in the beginning of the poem.
A small square pond an uncovered mirror
where sunlight and clouds linger and leave
I asked how it stays so clear
it said spring water keeps flowing in
(translation by Red Pine)
Knowledge and action
According to Zhu Xi's epistemology, knowledge and action were indivisible components of truly intelligent activity. Although he did distinguish between the priority of knowing, since intelligent action requires forethought, and the importance of action, as it produces a discernible effect, Zhu Xi said "Knowledge and action always require each other. It is like a person who cannot walk without legs although he has eyes, and who cannot see without eyes although he has legs. With respect to order, knowledge comes first, and with respect to importance, action is more important." 
The investigation of things and the extension of knowledge
Zhu Xi advocated gewu, the investigation of things. How to investigate and what these things are is the source of much debate. To Zhu Xi, the things are moral principles and the investigation involves paying attention to everything in both books and affairs because "moral principles are quite inexhaustible".
Zhu Xi did not hold to traditional ideas of God or Heaven (Tian), though he discussed how his own ideas mirrored the traditional concepts. He encouraged an agnostic tendency within Confucianism, because he believed that the Supreme Ultimate was a rational principle, and he discussed it as an intelligent and ordering will behind the universe (while stating that "Heaven and Earth have no mind of their own" and promoting their only function was to produce things. Whether this can be considered a conscious or intelligent will is clearly up to debate).
Whilst Master Zhu inherited the orthodox teaching and propagated it to the realm of sages and yet he was also proficient in running and cursive scripts, especially in large characters. His execution of brush was well-poised and elegant. However piecemeal or isolated his manuscripts, they were eagerly sought after and treasured. Wang Sai Ching (1526–1590) of :
The brush strokes in his calligraphy were swift without attempting at formality, yet none of his strokes and dots were not in conformity with the rules of calligraphy. of in his postscript for the ''Thatched Hut Hand Scroll'' by Zhu Xi:
People in the olden days said that there was embedded the bones of loyal subject in the calligraphy of Yan Zhenqing. Observing the execution of brush strokes by Zhu Xi, I am indeed convinced of the truth of this opinion. of the in his postscript for the ''Thatched Hut Hand Scroll'' by Zhu Xi:
Master Zhu was loyal, learned and a great scholar throughout ages . He was superb in calligraphy although he did not write much in his lifetime and hence they were rarely seen in later ages. This roll had been collected by Wong Sze Ma for a long time and of late, it appeared in the world. I chanced to see it once and whilst I regretted that I did not try to study it extensively until now, in the study room of my friend, I was so lucky to see it again. This showed that I am destined to see the manuscripts of master Zhu. I therefore wrote this preface for my intention. of the in his postscript for the ''Thatched Hut Hand Scroll'' by Zhu Xi:
The writings are enticing, delicate, elegant and outstanding. Truly such calligraphy piece is the wonder of nature. ==See also== * * * * * * * * * * or Toegye, A Korean Confucian scholar of the * or Yulgok, A Korean Confucian scholar of the *, Japanese follower of the philosophy of Zhu Xi *, Seika's student & political theorist *, academician/scholar/bureaucrat *, writer/botanist/philosopher }} ==Footnotes and references== ==Further reading== *J. Percy Bruce. ''Chu Hsi and His Masters'', Probsthain & Co., London, 1922. *Daniel K. Gardner. ''Learning To Be a Sage'', University of California Press, Berkeley, 1990. ISBN 0-520-06525-5. *Bruce E. Carpenter. 'Chu Hsi and the Art of Reading' in ''Tezukayama University Review'' (Tezukayama daigaku ronshū), Nara, Japan, no. 15, 1977, pp. 13–18. ISSN 0385-7743 *Wing-tsit Chan, ''Chu Hsi: Life and Thought'' (1987). ISBN 0-312-13470-3. *Wing-tsit Chan, ''Chu Hsi: New Studies''. University of Hawaii Press: 1989. ISBN 978-0-8248-1201-0 *Gedalecia, D (1974). "Excursion Into Substance and Function." ''Philosophy East and West''. vol. 4, 443-451. *Hoyt Cleveland Tillman, ''Utilitarian Confucianism: Ch‘en Liang's Challenge to Chu Hsi'' (1982) *Wm. Theodore de Bary, ''Neo-Confucian Orthodoxy and the Learning of the Mind-and-Heart'' (1981), on the development of Zhu Xi's thought after his death *Wing-tsit Chan (ed.), ''Chu Hsi and Neo-Confucianism'' (1986), a set of conference papers *Donald J. Munro, ''Images of Human Nature: A Sung Portrait'' (1988), an analysis of the concept of human nature in Zhu Xi's thought *Joseph A. Adler, ''Reconstructing the Confucian Dao: Zhu Xi's Appropriation of Zhou Dunyi'' (2014), a study of how and why Zhu Xi chose Zhou Dunyi to be the first true Confucian Sage since Mencius ===Translations=== All translations are of excerpts except where otherwise noted. * * *Wing-tsit Chan (1963), ''A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy''. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. * Gardner, Daniel (1986). ''Chu Hsi and Ta-hsueh: Neo-Confucian Reflection on the Confucian Canon''. Cambridge: Harvard UP. * ** A full translation of 近思錄. * * ** A full translation of 續近思錄. * ** A full translation of 家禮. * ** A full translation of 易學啟蒙. * ** Full translation of Zhu Xi's commentaries on Zhou Dunyi's Taijitu shuo 太極圖說 and Tongshu 通書. ==External links== * *[http://www.chinaonlinemuseum.com/calligraphy-zhu-xi.php Zhu Xi and his Calligraphy Gallery] at China Online Museum *[http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Reln270/Zhu-callig.htm Zhu Xi's large-character calligraphy from the Yijing] *[http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Writings/Divination.htm Chu Hsi and Divination] - Joseph A. Adler * *[http://www.wfu.edu/~moran/zzyl_TOC.html First part of the ''Classified Conversations of Master Zhu''] . --> | NAME = Zhu, Xi | ALTERNATIVE NAMES = | SHORT DESCRIPTION = Chinese philosopher | DATE OF BIRTH = October 18, 1130 | PLACE OF BIRTH = , , China | DATE OF DEATH = April 23, 1200 | PLACE OF DEATH = China }}