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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29975

Title: Crisis and Hermeneutics: Wang Fuzhi’s Interpretation of Confucian Classics in a Time of Radical Change from Ming to Qing Dynasty
Authors: Tan, Mingran
Advisor: Shen, Vincent
Department: East Asian Studies
Keywords: 0318
Issue Date: 15-Sep-2011
Abstract: In an effort to explore how hermeneutic reason functions in cultural crises, and more specifically, how a Ming loyalist Wang Fuzhi dealt with the political and cultural crises at the Ming-Qing dynastic transition, this dissertation critically examines his commentaries on Confucian classics and historical writings as well as his criticism toward other Confucian scholars and heretical schools. My conclusion is that, unlike his peers’ iconoclastic criticism of Neo-Confucianism, Wang’s uniqueness consists in that he attempted to reconstruct it through such criticism. Through this reconstruction, he tried to provide a solution to the political and cultural crises of his time by promoting universal harmony/he and humanity/ren. In his opinion, humanity originated from the harmonious qi in the universe, was identical with human nature, and demonstrated in the humane governance. Thus, he established a comprehensive system that incorporated cosmology, human nature, and political governance. Wang insisted that human beings’ destruction of the universal harmony caused the rise of perverse qi that gave rise to natural disasters and social conflicts. In order to decrease the amount of perverse qi and in turn the number of bad people and conflicts generated, Wang thought that man could cultivate his own harmonious qi or humanity and thus increase the universal harmonious qi through self-cultivation. Individually, the measures were dependent upon complying with ritual propriety and awakening one’s innate knowledge. Politically, it depended upon the ruler’s humane governance—the cultivation and extension of humanity to the people. Wang’s motivation of reconstruction was also powered by his arrogance. From his slogan, “the Six Classics require me to start a new phase”, he tacitly assumed himself to be on par with Confucius, justifying his criticism of others. Regrettably, his criticism of other non-Confucian schools was often impertinent and biased although his criticism of Neo-Confucianism was to the point.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29975
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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