The Philosophy of Qi: The Record of Great Doubts

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Columbia University Press, Jun 19, 2012 - Philosophy - 208 pages
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Kaibara Ekken (1630-1714) was a prominent Japanese scholar who spread Neo-Confucian ideas and moral teachings throughout Japan. He was also known as the "Aristotle of Japan" for his studies of the natural world. Of his many writings, The Record of Great Doubts is the culmination of a lifetime of seeking a unified view of humans and nature. The text represents one of the central reflections in East Asian thought on the significance of qi ch'i, the material force coursing through all life, and is available here for the first time in English with a comprehensive introduction situating Ekken within the currents of his time and within the larger debates of Neo-Confucianism in East Asia.

The Record of Great Doubts emphasizes the role of qi in achieving a life of engagement with other humans, with the larger society, and with nature as a whole. Rather than encourage transcendental escapism or quietism, Ekken articulates a philosophy of material force as a basis of living a life of commitment to the world. In this spirit, moral cultivation is not an isolated or a self-centered preoccupation, but an activity that occurs within the dynamic forces of nature and amid the rigorous demands of society. In this context, a vitalism of qi is an emergent force, not only providing the philosophical grounding for this vibrant interaction but also giving a basis for an investigation of the natural world that plumbs the principle within things. Ekken thus aimed to articulate a creative and dynamic milieu for moral education, political harmony, social coherence, and agricultural sustainability.

The Record of Great Doubts embodies Ekken's profound commitment to Confucian ideas and practices as a method for establishing an integrative ethical vision, one he hoped would guide Japan through a new period of peace and stability. A major philosophical treatise in the Japanese Neo-Confucian tradition, The Record of Great Doubts illuminates a crucial chapter in East Asian intellectual history.

 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
The Text in the Context of East Asian Confucianism
9
Material Force Qi
13
Zhang Zais Development of the Concept of Material Force
14
The Influence of the Monism of Qi of Luo Qinshun
20
The Significance of the Record of Great Doubts
25
The Text in the Context of Tokugawa Japan
26
The Spread of Confucian Ideas and Values
29
On Bias Discernment and Selection
92
On Learning from What Is Close at Hand
99
The Indivisibility of the Nature of Heaven and Earth and Ones Physical Nature
102
Acknowledging Differences with the Song Confucians
106
PART II
114
Reverence Within and Rightness Without
117
Influences from Buddhism and Daoism
119
The Supreme Ultimate
127

The Importance of Dissent and the Centrality of Learning
33
Philosophical Debates Regarding Principle and Material Force
40
Practical Learning and the Philosophy of Qi
48
Interpretations of Ekkens Philosophy of Qi
55
Organic Holism and Dynamic Vitalism
58
Harmonizing with Change and Assisting Transformation
60
The Significance of Qi as an Ecological Cosmology
64
Notes
67
PREFACE
79
PART I
81
On Human Nature
89
The Way and Concrete Things
131
Returning the World to Humaneness
132
Reverence and Sincerity
135
Reverence as the Master of the Mind
137
The Inseparability of Principle and Material Force
144
Notes
149
GLOSSARY
167
BIBLIOGRAPHY
173
INDEX
191
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Mary Evelyn Tucker is visiting professor at Yale in the Institution for Social and Public Policy and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is also a research associate at the Harvard-Yenching Institute and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard. She is the author of Moral and Spiritual Cultivation in Japanese Neo-Confucianism and is the coeditor of Confucianism and Ecology and of the two volume Confucian Spirituality. With John A. Grim, she is the director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology, an international project involving conferences, books, and a web site. Together the editors of the ten volume series World Religions and Ecology published by the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard.

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