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An Examination of the “New Learning” Usage of daoxue in Northern Song China
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1 The Way Turning Inward: An Examination of the “New Learning” Usage of daoxue in Northern Song China Hiu Yu, CHEUNG Department of History, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Email: hycheung@arts.cuhk.edu.hk In 1980s, James T. C. Liu has used the phrase “China turning inward” to characterize the shift from Northern Song to Southern Song intellectual traditions, especially the intellectual lineage from Cheng Yi 程頤 (1033-1107) to Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200).1 Building upon Professor Liu’s characterization, I will explore more specifically how the Way turned toward greater emphasis on inner self-cultivation as daoxue 道學 (hereafter, the italicized “daoxue” refers to a rubric that began as a moral practice, then became a learning of the Way, and would evolve into a socio-political group and ultimately into a school of thought from the eleventh through the twelfth centuries, which came to be labeled Daoxue). Many modern studies have utilized the term “Neo-Confucianism” (xinruxue 新儒學) to label this turn in Song thought. In their criticism of Zhu Xi’s reformulations of ancient Confucian, the Jesuits had in the eighteenth century coined the dismissive term “Neo-Confucianism” to highlight Zhu’s radical changes of Classical Confucianism; however, twentieth century scholars, especially Wing-tsit Chan 陳榮捷 seized upon the term to promote Zhu Xi’s creative completion of Confucianism.2 Essentially, Professor Chan’s portrait of Neo-Confucianism echoed the traditional Chinese perception of Confucian orthodoxy after the thirteenth century. The “Daoxue zhuan” 道學傳 in the Songshi 宋史, which was reflected in the Song Yuan xuean 宋元學案, provided a structured, monolithic portrait of the intellectual landscape that endorsed Zhu Xi as the center of orthodoxy in late imperial China. In 2 challenging this constructed orthodox narrative, Hoyt Tillman has proposed returning to the Song-era usage of Daoxue and its evolution from a sociopolitical fellowship into a school of thought. Tillman argued that this “rectification of names is much more than a mere quibble over words. What is at stake is the very content of Confucian traditions, how they were formulated, and how they evolved.”3 How did the new conceptualization of daoxue as personal selfcultivation and Daoxue as a particular intellectual tradition arise and develop in the Song? Through an examination of the usage of daoxue as moral practice among New Learning (xinxue 新學) scholars, whom historians have conventionally labeled as close followers of Wang Anshi’s 王安石 (1021-1086), I will uncover their role in the development toward Daoxue, which is conventionally projected as opposed to Wang’s ideas and legacy. Early Usage of daoxue before the Song and Song Perceptions of the Origins of daoxue Before turning to Confucian usage of daoxue, we will briefly survey the term’s usages in Daoist and Buddhist texts. According to a seventh-century collection of Buddhist materials, the Fayuan zhulin 法苑珠林, the Han Emperor Jing 漢景帝 (188-141 BC) upgraded Daoist texts from the Category of Philosophy to the Category of Classics because of the profound meaning of Daoist texts.4 In an eleventh-century collection of Han and other early Daoist materials, the Yunji qiqian 雲笈七籤, Daoist learning and some specific Daoist Classics were referred to as daoxue.5 When Buddhism arrived in China in the first century, it confronted the problem of cultural assimilation. Chinese Buddhists attempted to pair Sanskrit Indian terms with domestic Daoist terms, a translation technique known as geyi 格義 (matching concepts).6 Chinese Buddhists adopted the encompassing concept, dao 道, to refer to the Buddhist teaching of the ultimate truth, because the term was ambiguous enough to be utilized by diverse religious 3 groups.7 Late to the sixth century, most Chinese Buddhist monks were designated as “Daoists” (daoren 道人 or daoshi 道士) in texts which discussed Buddhist practices and customs.8 The early-Tang environment of religious pluralism further contributed to such interchangeable use of terms in Daoist and Buddhist contexts. The Kaiyuan shijiao lu 開元釋教錄, for instance, called Buddhist teaching daoxue.9 Thus, the Buddhist and Daoist usage of the term daoxue was rather inclusive before the eleventh century. Since nobody could monopolize the dao, the dao was a repository of abstract concepts and conceptions, which accordingly added a metaphysical dimension to the term daoxue. Between the third and tenth centuries, scholars with professional...


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