|Summary||Wang Yangming (王陽明; Wang Shouren王守仁, 1472-1529) closely followed Lu Xiangshan’s direction in paying closer attention to the internal investigation of the mind. They both advocate the view that “mind is principle.” In the history of Chinese philosophy, the two philosophers are often called “the Lu-Wang School,” and the debate between the Lu-Wang School and the “Cheng-Zhu School” was the dominant theme in Neo-Confucianism. Of primary sources, Chan 1963, Henke 2012 and Ching 1976 are three older translations of Wang’s writings, and Ivanhoe 2009 (cited under Lu Xiangshan) is a more contemporary translation with valuable notations. In addition to providing translation of Wang’s essays and poems, Ching 1976 remains an indispensable introduction to Wang’s overall philosophy. There are five main theses in Wang’s philosophy: (1) Mind is principle; (2) We all have an innate knowledge/perception of the good, which he calls Liangzhi (良知); (3) We need to “rectify things” (gewu 格物), which according to Wang’s interpretation means to get rid of evil and to return to our innate good sense; (4) the unity of knowledge and action; and (5) Humanity (ren) begins with family love. Of these themes, contemporary scholars focus more on (2) and (4).|
|Key works||Cua 1982 is a classic analysis on thesis (4) while Frisina 2002 gives this thesis a more contemporary approach to reinterpret this thesis of the unity of knowledge and action. [BROKEN REFERENCE: IVAMW] gives an innovative analysis of Wang’s theory of Liangzhi, rendered as “pure knowledge” or “moral perception.” Tien 2004 is a sophisticated comparative study on Wang Yangming and Tien 2012 provides a reconstruction of Wang Yangming’s moral psychology. All three articles situate Wang’s thought in the contemporary philosophical context.|
Chan, Wing-tsit (Trans.) Instructions for Practical Living and Other Neo-Confucian Writing. New York: Columbia University Press. 1963.
This book provides a reliable and accessible translation of Wang’s major work, Instructions for Practical Living (chuanxilu傳習錄), and his philosophical correspondences.
Henke, Frederick Goodrich. The Philosophy of Wang Yang-Ming Translated from the Chinese (Classic Reprint). Forgotten Books, 2012.
This is a reprint of an old translation from 1916, published by Open Court. The collection contains Wang’s essential works (Instructions for Practical Life, Record of Discourses and Inquiry regarding the Great Learning) and many of his scholarly letters.
Ivanhoe, Philip J. Readings from the Lu-Wang School of Neo-Confucianism. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2009.
This book includes translations of Wang Yangming’s Questions on the Great Learning (daxue wen 大學問) and A Record for Practice (chuanxilu 傳習錄), as well as additional selections from Wang’s philosophical correspondence and his poetry. The helpful notations, along with the elegant translation and representative selections of the text, make this book an authoritative edition of Lu-Wang’s works in English.
Ching 1976 is the first systematic work on Wang Yangming in English, written by the late Dr. Ching, a well respected expert on neo-Confucianism. Part I of this book contains Ching’s detailed analysis of Wang’s philosophy; Part II includes her selected translations of Wang’s essays and poems. Anyone working on Wang Yangming should begin with this book.
Cua, Antonio S. Unity of Knowledge and Action: A Study in Wang Yang-Ming’s Moral Psychology. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 1982.
This book gives a comprehensive analysis of Wang’s key thesis of the unity of knowledge and action in the context of his philosophy of mind and theory of action. In many ways, Cua’s analysis of Wang paved the ground for new directions in the study of Chinese moral philosophy.
Frisina 2002 takes an innovative approach to the understanding of Wang Yangming’s major thesis of the unity of knowledge and action. Though the interpretation might not strike traditional scholars as true to Wang Yangming, the philosophical potential of Wang’s view is greatly enhanced by this approach.
Ivanhoe 2011 takes a contemporary perspective and comparative analysis to reconstruct Wang Yangming’s view of moral perception. It opens new topics for the study of Confucian moral psychology.
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