|Summary||Zhou Dunyi (Chou Tun-I 周敦頤, 1017-1073) is standardly regarded as the originator of Neo-Confucianism, but his thought stirred up much controversy in the history of Chinese philosophy. Many philosophers and scholars accused him as being a closet Daoist, in that his short treatise on the Taiji Diagram seems to be a clone of a Daoist Taiji diagram and his allusion to the Boundless (wuji 無極) has often taken to be in reference to nonbeing (wu無) in Daoist philosophy. There are hundreds of debates and articles written in Chinese on this diagram, both from the perspective of intellectual history and from the angle of philosophical analysis.|
|Key works||In English, Wang 2005 gives a good summary of the controversy and offers a credible explanation of this particular diagram, while Gu 2003 takes the issue to a broader context to reconstruct the diagram as a “mega-sign” in Chinese philosophy.|
Gu 2003 takes a Peircean approach (separating the signifier and the signified) to reconstruct the Taiji Diagram as a sign of representation, and further reconstruct the Chinese sign system of Taiji and Dao. It is a rich paper that can help Western readers understand why Zhou’s brief analysis of the Diagram matters so much in the history of Chinese philosophy.
Wang 2005 deals with the various interpretations of Zhou Dunyi’s Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate Explained (taijitu shuo). It is a good introduction to the historical controversy surrounding Zhou’s usage of the term “wuji,” as it carries a Daoist connotation.
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
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