The Metaphysical Basis of "Union of Heaven and Man" in Neo-Confucian Idealism

December 1984
Hanxue Yanjiu (Chinese Studies);1984, Vol. 2 Issue 2, p543
Academic Journal
This paper is an attempt to reconstruct the philosophy of "Union of Heaven and Man" with a special emphasis on the School of Mind during the Sung-Ming period. It begins with the tracing of the traditional concept of "Heaven" in the ancient Confucian classics, and analyses this concept in various texts including the Book of History, Book of Odes, the Four Books and especially the Book of Changes. In the Sung period, many thinkers, such as Shao Yung, Hu Hung and Ch'eng Hao had already expounded the metaphysical significance of mind and treated it as the entity which bridged the gap between ultimate reality and man. But the height of development of this concept was reached by Lu Hsiang-shan and Wang Yang-ming, the objective of their philosophical endeavour was clearly in pointing out the creative nature of human mind and potential for a full enrichment so as to achieve absolute freedom and perfectibility inherent in human nature. The structure of this paper is presented in the following sections: 1)"Union of Heaven and Man" as the common belief in traditional Confucian thought. 2)The Neo-Confucian concept of "Mind" is derived from ineffable experience of self-realization. 3) The outline of the metaphysical implication of "Mind" in Confucian thought. 4) The textual evidence of "Union of Heaven and Man" in the pre-Ch'in period. 5) The development of "Union of Heaven and Man" in Lu Hsiang-shan. 6) The development of "all things form one body" in the School of Mind during the Ming period. 7) The realization of "Union of Heaven and Man" through introspection as the creativity of mind.


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