Chinese Thought and Culture Review
VOLUME 9 ·Number 2 ·July 2022
·Special Issue on THE 550TH ANNIVERSARY OF WANG YANGMING’S BIRTH·
Sponsored by the 2022 Guizhou Provincial Fund for Publishing and Media Development and the Guizhou Foundation for Confucianism Promotion
Introduction to the Special Issue 4
·Creative Evolution and Development of Chinese Culture·
Wang Yangming’s Learning of the Heart-Mind in the Development of Chinese Philosophy 6
What Is Cultural Research on Yangming Studies? 21
The Junzi in the Philosophy of Mind: On Wang Yangming’s Development of the Idea of the Junzi and Its Contemporary Significance 33
Transformation and Education: Wang Yangming’s Teaching in Guizhou and the Rise of the Qian School 47
One Family with Heaven, Earth, and the Myriad Things: Probing Wang Yangming’s Doctrine of Loving the People 60
Text and Enlightenment: A Hermeneutical Interpretation of ‘Intuitive Knowing as Change’ from the Perspective of Foundational Intentionality 74
Intuitive Knowing and Intuitive Awareness, Awareness of Inherent Nature and Awareness of the Mind: On the Distinction between Confucianism and Buddhism in Wang Yangming’s Thought 88
Wang Yangming’s Learning of the Heart-Mind in the Development of Chinese Philosophy
Abstract: Wang Yangming’s learning of the heart-mind involves several important issues, including the heart-mind and things, the heart-mind and principle, the heart-mind and events, extending innate knowledge, and the original substance and effort (gongfu). On the first issue, Wang asserts “wherever the will is directed is a thing,” meaning that humans invest external objects with meaning through the directing of the heart-mind as the substance (the intentionality of the heart-mind), thus constructing a meaningful world, rather than that humans create the world in space and time by their consciousness or heart-mind. On the relationship between the heart-mind and principle, Wang combines the two with the proposition: “The heart-mind is principle.” In this way, principle, which functions as universal laws and norms, is no longer external to the individual, and thus the individual consciousness sublates its original state and obtains self-conscious features that are universal. In Wang’s philosophy, the heart-mind is connected with the unfolding of events, where events constitute the precondition for understanding things and grasping the Way, and serve as the origin in the cultivation of human beings. The cultivation of humans through events relies on innate knowledge as the content of the virtues. Innate knowledge, as the constant guide, contains rational norms and manifests itself in the feelings of “loving good and hating evil.” In the comprehensive structure of consciousness, innate knowledge is connected with the original substance, while extending innate knowledge pertains to effort. An exposition of innate knowledge and the extension of innate knowledge will clarify the relationship between the original substance and effort in the learning of the heart-mind. Generally speaking, through a combination of “elaborating the original substance through effort” and “elaborating effort through the original substance,” Wang affirms the unity of the original substance and effort.
Keywords: learning of the heart-mind, heart-mind, things, events, innate knowledge, original substance, effort
What Is Cultural Research on Yangming Studies?
Abstract: Although Yangming Studies may undoubtedly be considered a line of philosophical inquiry, it is at the same time an “intellectual–cultural” system. The phenomenon of “Yangming culture” emerging during the late Ming dynasty demonstrates how the society of the time was progressing in terms of diversity in its intellectual culture. Although it remains difficult to define “culture” clearly to this day, through etymological research, we can find that the three ancient Chinese concepts of wenhua (culture), wenming (civilization), and renwen (forms of humanity) are interrelated. Confucianism, with its sustained humanistic tradition, was an intellectual indicator, one that formed an important foundation for traditional Chinese culture. From a cultural viewpoint, Wang Yangming’s Confucian theory of the mind and human nature has a constructive effect on re-establishing the humanistic order. In addition to this, Yangming Studies became a cultural import for East Asian areas such as the Joseon kingdom of Korea and Japan in the Edo period, despite being subject to profound alterations and acclimation there. Such intercultural exchanges can be more deeply explored to the benefit of finding new perspectives on the cross-regional, cross-cultural aspects of both Yangming culture and Confucianism.
Keywords: Yangming culture, intellectual–cultural, forms of humanity, civilization
The Junzi in the Philosophy of Mind: On Wang Yangming’s Development of the Idea of the Junzi and Its
Abstract: To foster ideal character is one of the objectives for Wang Yangming’s philosophy of mind. Inheriting pre-Qin Confucian discourses on the qualities of the junzi, Wang Yangming expanded its content and enriched its essential traits. The major components of a junzi’s character in Wang’s philosophy include such traits as sincerity and earnest application, independence and pursuing the Way of centrality, self-discipline for moral integrity, taking responsibility for the world, self-motivation and good conscience, and associating with others virtuously. These traits, interwoven and colored by the philosophy of mind, became the compositional pigments in and major themes of Wang Yangming’s analysis of moral character. He not only explored in theory the constitutive elements of healthy character but also gave the practical approach for fostering such character. His theory is instructive today for helping to build healthy character in modern society.
Keywords: Wang Yangming, philosophy of mind, junzi’s character, healthy character, development, contemporary significance
Transformation and Education:
Wang Yangming’s Teaching in Guizhou and the Rise of the Qian School
Abstract: After his sudden enlightenment at Longchang in Guizhou, Wang Yangming delivered a series of lectures to two different targeted audiences, not only attracting a considerable number of local residents and thus transforming local habits and customs, but also cultivating a number of qualified candidates for the imperial civil service examination, who in turn constituted the local backbone of Yangming Studies. Because of Wang Yangming’s efforts at transformation and education in Guizhou (Qian), his philosophy of the mind had a more direct influence on Guizhou scholars, who took the initiative in practicing the “unity of knowledge and action” and formed the Qian School with a galaxy of talents and outstanding representatives. They inherited the qualities of modesty and righteousness from Wang Yangming, successfully carried forward Wang’s teaching of intuitive knowledge, and pioneered the establishment of a regional branch of Yangming Studies. It is indispensable to include an objective analysis of the Qian School as an influential sub-school of mind, rooted in the border areas, when we research the regional distribution and intellectual-ecological structure of Yangming Studies, as well as the evolution of thought and scholarship in the Ming dynasty.
Keywords: Wang Yangming, Qian School, spread of Confucianism in the border areas, succession of Wang Yangming’s philosophy of the mind
One Family with Heaven, Earth, and the Myriad Things: Probing Wang Yangming’s Doctrine of Loving the People
Abstract: Wang Yangming’s doctrines of mingde (manifesting the clear character) and qinmin (loving the people), which constitute the core component of his philosophy, can be viewed in an earlier and a later period of advancement. And the essential tenet and distinctive feature of his doctrines can be appreciated only from a dual perspective—a theory of the “effort to manifest one’s clear character” and a contemplation of the “kingly Way” of rule. His doctrine of loving the people, by extending the love of one’s parents to humanity in general, invests the Confucian concept with the significance of constructing a universal order for human society as well as the cosmos of all beings. Together with his assertions of “the world as one family” and “the whole country as one person,” Wang’s doctrine has become a spiritual motivation for social reconstruction in early modern China, having a profound practical effect on society and a far-reaching influence on intellectual history.
Keywords: Wang Yangming, manifesting the clear character, loving the people, kingly Way
Text and Enlightenment: A Hermeneutical Interpretation of ‘Intuitive Knowing as Change’ from the Perspective of Foundational Intentionality
Abstract: Few of Wang Yangming’s writings express his thought on the Book of Changes, and those that exist have been repeatedly discussed in academic research on the subject. This paper takes up the tension between “text” (writing) and “enlightenment” (spiritual plane), from the perspective of the philosophy of foundational intentionality, to develop and expand existing research explicating “intuitive knowing” and “change” from the standpoint of substance and function. It utilizes the philosophical plane of foundational intentionality from Illuminating Intentionality through the Zhouyi to grasp the inherent relationship between Wang Yangming’s material on the Book of Changes and his Learning of Mind, providing an in-depth analysis of his “intuitive knowing” and his philosophical thought on the Book of Changes. Taking this as an example, this paper attempts to advance research on problems connected to the history of Chinese philosophy from the perspective of Chinese philosophy.
Keywords: Wang Yangming, Changes studies, intuitive knowing, philosophy of foundational intentionality, text (writing), enlightenment (spiritual plane)
Intuitive Knowing and Intuitive Awareness, Awareness of Inherent Nature and Awareness of the Mind: On the Distinction between Confucianism and Buddhism in Wang Yangming’s Thought
Abstract: Wang Yangming’s doctrine of intuitive knowing is essentially a “learning of awareness.” Intuitive knowing is in fact a kind of intuitive awareness, but not in the ordinary sense, for only the intuitive awareness in which moral reasoning is potentially contained counts as intuitive knowing. The present paper holds that Wang Yangming’s thought is deeply immersed in the Chinese-style “original awareness of Buddha-nature,” and thus ultimately forms an intellectual structure of “principle–knowledge–mind–awareness–inherent nature.” Under the influence of Buddhism, such intuitive awareness is derived from the awareness of inherent nature; as an inheritance of Confucianism, such intuitive knowing is developed from the awareness of the mind. Intuitive knowing, as the human “emotional–rational structure,” naturally embodies the whole structure of “knowledge–emotion–intention,” that is, it includes rational ideas and the will as well as perceptual emotion. Intuitive knowing is a result of an inner accumulation of rationality, but it manifests itself in the external form of moral intuition. The “conception of the fetal sage” in Wang Yangming’s sense is nothing but the procedure and result of such rational condensation.
Keywords: emotional–rational structure, intuitive knowing, intuitive awareness, awareness of inherent nature, awareness of the mind, original awareness of Buddha-nature, original awareness of inherent nature