Wei‐Jin Period Xuanxue ‘Neo‐Daoism’: Re‐working the Relationship Between Confucian and Daoist Themes

Philosophy Compass 11 (11):621-631 (2016)
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In recent years, philosophical ideas developed during the Wei-Jin period, broadly referred to as xuanxue in Chinese and ‘Neo-Daoism’ or ‘Dark Learning’ in English, have been accorded increasing attention in academia. This article provides an introduction to some major thinkers of the Wei-Jin period, addressing both their original writings and recent scholarly interpretations. The article aims to demonstrate that many Wei-Jin period intellectuals formed their theories through reinterpreting the relationship between texts associated with Daoism and Confucianism. Thinkers of this period often attempted to show how these defining ‘schools’ of pre-Qin Chinese thought did not propose theories that were fundamentally inconsistent, and that their ideas could be woven together as elements of a coherent view. This intellectual movement can thus be, and often has been, viewed as an attempt to integrate Daoism and Confucianism. However, a more nuanced reading demonstrates that these thinkers were reworking the relationship between what were seen as predominately Daoist or Confucian themes from their very foundation. Accordingly, the common description of Wei-Jin thinkers as ‘Daoist’ is decidedly incongruous.



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A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy.A. C. Graham & Wing-Tsit Chan - 1964 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 84 (1):60.
Daoism and Wu.David Chai - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (10):663-671.
Meontology in early xuanxue thought.David Chai - 2010 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 37 (1):90-101.
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Musical naturalism in the thought of Ji Kang.David Chai - 2009 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 8 (2):151-171.

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