May 11, 2022 Uncategorized

Chinese Neo Confucian Theory Discussion Questions

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Question 1.This is the so-called Eight Articles of the Great Learning, one of the Four Books. Read the following passage as closely as you can and think about their implications.

“Those in antiquity who wished to illuminate luminous virtue throughout the world would first govern their states; wishing to govern their states, they would first bring order to their families; wishing to bring order to their families, they would first cultivate their own persons; wishing to cultivate their own persons, they would first rectify their minds; wishing to rectify their minds, they would first make their thoughts sincere; wishing to make their thoughts sincere, they would first extend their knowledge. The extension of knowledge lies in the investigation of things.

It is only when things are investigated that knowledge is extended; when knowledge is extended that thoughts become sincere; when thoughts become sincere that the mind is rectified; when the mind is rectified that the person is cultivated; when the person is cultivated that order is brought to the family; when order is brought to the family that the state is well governed; when the state is well governed that peace is brought to the world.”

Why do you think Neo-Confucian philosophers took so seriously this particular passage, of all the statements and phrases, in the large corpus of the Confucian Classics? What do you think were the original messages of the sages who wrote up this grand statement? Why do you think this statement appeal to Neo-Confucians who sought to rekindle the spirits of Confucianism in the 11th to 12th centuries China? (300-400 words)

Question 2. Read “Chapter 21: Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucian Program” from Sources of Chinese Tradition (attached in the previous announcement).

In this chapter, we can observe various social, economic, and educational programs of local governance initiated by Zhu Xi. Based on your reading of this chapter, what do you think Zhu Xi was up to? What type of social order do you think Zhu Xi sought to achieve? How did Zhu Xi conceive of the roles and responsibilities of the individuals in terms of making a good society and good government? In other words, what did Zhu Xi think each individual ought to do in one’s own surrounding to make the world a better place? Explain Zhu Xi’s theory of good government. Do you think Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucian Program could work in reality beyond 12th century China? (300-400 words)

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