If Z hu Xi had been a western philosopher, we would say he synthesized the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus: that he took from Plato the theory of forms, from Aristotle the connection between form and empirical investigation, and from Plotinus self-differentiating holism. But because a synthesis abstracts from the incompatible elements of its members, it involves rejection as well as inclusion. Thus, Z hu Xi does not accept the dualism by which Plato opposed to the rational forms an irrational material principle, and does not share Aristotle’s irreducible dualism between form and prime matter, or his teleology. Neither does he share Plotinus’ indifference to the empirical world. Understanding how these similarities and differences play out against one another will help us discover what is at stake in their various commitments.