Neo-Confucianism

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Neo-Confucianism. The revived form of Confucianism which became dominant in China especially after the 10th cent. CE, under the leadership of a succession of great philosophers of the 11th cent., including Chou Tun-yi, Chʾeng Hao, Chʾeng Yi (see CHʾENG HAO), and Chang Tsai, as well as the later synthesizer Chu Hsi (1130–1200), all of the Sung dynasty. Neo-Confucianism attempted to offer certain explanations of the problems of the universe and of human existence, developing a cosmology of the Great Ultimate (Tʾai-chi, Chou Tunyi), a doctrine explaining the rise of evil in human nature (Chang Tsai and Chʾeng Yi), grounded in the metaphysics of li (principle) and chʾi (matter-energy), and a practical teaching of cultivation which regards as important intellectual pursuit as well as moral progress (Chʾeng Yi and Chu Hsi). As a philosophical movement, it is usually described as having at least two principal branches, the ‘realist’ school of Chu Hsi with its emphasis on li or principle, and the ‘idealist’ school of Wang Yang-ming (1472–1529), with its preference for the subjective hsin (mind-and-heart). Neo-Confucianism spread from China to Yi Korea and Tokugawa Japan, which also witnessed local developments of the Chu Hsi schools (and, in the case of Japan, of the Yang-ming school also).