Philosophy and Religion in Early Medieval China
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: State University of New York Press
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Early medieval China was a time of profound change.1 The fall of the Han dynasty altered drastically the Chinese political and intellectual landscape. Leaving aside changes on the political front, which fall outside the scope of the present work, questions about “heaven” and the affairs of the world that seemed to have been fully resolved under ...
1. Sage Nature and the Logic of Namelessness: Reconstructing He Yan’s Explication of Dao
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There is little question that the concept of wu 無, variously translated as “nothing,” “nonbeing,” and “negativity,” is central to the early medieval Chinese intellectual enterprise. Famously, the Jin shu 晉書 (History of the Jin dynasty [265–420]) relates that during the Zhengshi 正始 reign period (240–249) of the Wei dynasty (220–265), He Yan 何晏 (d. 249), Wang Bi 王弼 (226–249...
2. Tracing the Dao: Wang Bi’s Theory of Names
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The third-century Chinese commentator of the Laozi 老子, Wang Bi 王弼 (226–249) is credited with being one of the founders of xuanxue 玄學 (Studies of the Profound). One of the most intriguing claims his acclaimed commentary makes is that the sage infers the Dao as the source of all things, starting from the names of objects. In this chapter, I argue that it is Wang Bi’s correlative...
3. Hexagrams and Politics: Wang Bi’s Political Philosophy in the Zhouyi zhu
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Since the publication of Tang Yongtong’s 湯用彤 article in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies in 1947,1 Wang Bi 王弼 (226–249) has been a main focus in Western studies of Chinese philosophy. This interest in Wang Bi is due in part to his brilliant commentaries on the Laozi 老子, the ...
4. Li in Wang Bi and Guo Xiang: Coherence in the Dark
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The standard textbook doxa on the understanding of li 理 (“principle,” “pattern,” “coherence”) in the two greatest xuanxue 玄學 thinkers, Wang Bi and Guo Xiang, is still perhaps that suggested long ago by Wing-tsit Chan:...
5. The Sage without Emotion: Music, Mind, and Politics in Xi Kang
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One of the main issues in xuanxue 玄學 debates during the Zhengshi 正始 era (240–249) of the Wei dynasty (220–265) concerns whether or not the sage experiences emotion. Increasing interest in the emotions as the interface between the inner world of desires, goals, and plans, and the outer world of objects ...
6. The Ideas of Illness, Healing, and Morality in Early Heavenly Master Daoism
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Although many scholars of Daoism have noticed the close interaction between early Heavenly or Celestial Master Daoism (Tianshi dao 天師道) and popular religion in the Han period (206 bce–220 ce), it is important to identify the distinctive features of the former and examine how they impacted ...
7. Imagining Community: Family Values and Morality in the Lingbao Scriptures
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In his recent article, “A History of Surrender” 屈服史, the intellectual historian Ge Zhaoguang has identified three ways that Six Dynasties Daoism seemingly “surrendered” to the forces of social and imperial orthodoxy.1 He argues that: (1) The early Celestial Masters organized their followers into twenty-four parishes—administrative centers in fact—but abandoned the system...
8. What is Geyi, After All?
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A constant theme of nearly all introductory and general expositions of the history of Buddhism, be they composed in the East or in the West, be they presented in the classroom or in written works, is that the presumed translation technique of geyi 格義 played a central role in the transmission and assimilation of Indian Buddhism in China during its earliest phases. According to this scenario...
9. The Buddharaja Image of Emperor Wu of Liang
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In 1999, the Taiwanese scholar Yan Shangwen published a book entitled Liang Wudi 梁武帝. Yan’s book is the most detailed study on the “Emperor-Bodhisattva” policy of Emperor Wu (Xiao Yan 蕭 衍, r. 502–549) of the Liang dynasty (502–557). In the conclusion, he says:...
10. Social and Cultural Dimensions of Reclusion in Early Medieval China
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The idea of reclusion ostensibly concerns hiding, but in early medieval China recluses seem to be everywhere visible. Some are courted by the court. Some are offered material support by local patrons. Some teach and write at home, some in institutions. Some are visited in the hills, some in town. Some even are perched in the gardens of the rich and famous. Some practice occult arts in public, sometimes in the company of the highest officials. Some ...
11. Destiny and Retribution in Early Medieval China
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As the Later Han dynasty was unraveling in the late second century, many people began to sense not only its imminent downfall, but the final demise of human history itself. These uncanny observers came from a wide social spectrum that included government officials, Confucian thinkers, and religious Daoist...
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Page Count: 381
Publication Year: 2010