1619–1692) courtesy name Ernong
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...
(船山), was a Chinese
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...
philosopher of the late Ming
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...
, early Qing
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....
Born to a scholarly family in Hengyang
Hengyang is the second largest city of China's Hunan Province. It straddles the Xiang River about 160 km south of Changsha.-History:Its former name was Hengzhou . This was the capital of a prefecture in the Tang Dynasty's Jiangnan and West Jiangnan circuits...
' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...
province in 1619, Wang Fuzhi began his education in the Chinese classic texts
Chinese classic texts, or Chinese canonical texts, today often refer to the pre-Qin Chinese texts, especially the Neo-Confucian titles of Four Books and Five Classics , a selection of short books and chapters from the voluminous collection called the Thirteen Classics. All of these pre-Qin texts...
when very young. He passed his civil-service examination at the age of twenty-four, but his projected career was diverted by the invasion of China by the Manchus, the founders of the Qing (or Ch'ing) dynasty.
Staying loyal to the Ming emperors, Wang first fought against the invaders, and then spent the rest of his life in hiding from them. His refuge was at the foot of the mountain Chuanshan, from which he gained his alternative name). He died in 1693, though it's not known for certain where or how.
Wang Fuzhi is said to have written over a hundred books, but many of them have been lost the rest of his works have been collected and named Ch’uan-shan i-shu ch’uan-chi.
Wang was a follower of Confucius, but he believed that the neo-Confucian philosophy which dominated China at the time had distorted Confucius's teachings. He wrote his own commentaries on the Confucian classics (including five on the Yi Jing or Book of Changes), and gradually developed his own philosophical system. He wrote on many topics, including metaphysics, epistemology, moral philosophy, poetry, and politics. Apart from Confucius, he was also influenced by Zhang Zai and the major early neo-Confucian Zhu Xi.
Wang’s metaphysical is a version of materialism. What he thought was that only qi (or ch'i; energy or material force) exists; li (principle, form, or idea), which was a central concept in traditional Confucian thought, doesn't exist independently, being simply the principle of the qi. Qi =The fact that the whole universe has always existed
Wang's metaphysical ideas led him to a naturalist moral philosophy (which brought him a lot of popularity in modern China). It was that there are no values in nature; virtues and values are assigned to objects and actions by human beings. In particular, human desires are not inherently evil; they're not only unavoidable, being an essential part of our nature, but can be beneficial — the moral nature of human beings being grounded in our feelings for others. It's only lack of moderation that leads to problems. Human desires comprise the main example of our relationship – as material beings – with the material world in which we live, and human nature develops out of our initial material nature together with the changes that we undergo as a result of our interactions with the world.
Wang laid great stress on the need for both experience and reason: we must study the world using our senses, and reason carefully about it. Knowledge and action are intertwined, and acting is the ground of knowing. The gaining of knowledge is a slow and laborious process, there are no instances of sudden enlightenment.
Politics & history
Aside from his materialist stance, Wang popularity in modern China came largely as a result of his political and historical thought: government, he argued, should benefit the people, not those in power. History is a continuous cycle of renewal, involving the gradual progress of human society. There are periods of chaos and want as well as of stability and prosperity, depending on the degree of virtue of the emperor and of the people as a whole, but the underlying direction is upwards. It's the result of the natural laws that govern human beings and society. Wang believed that the power of the feudal landlords was evil, and should be weakened by higher taxation, which would also lead to an increase in numbers of land-owning peasants.
|What is meant by the Way [Dao] is the management of concrete things. [...] Lao-zi was blind to this and said that the Way existed in emptiness [...] Buddha was blind to this and said that the Way existed in silence [...] One may keep on uttering such extravagant words endlessly, but no-one can ever escape from concrete things.
Wang adopted a strong anti-Manchu stance in his writings and was remarkable for his systematic attempt to express his anti-Manchuism in a broad historical and philosophical context. He also insisted that the Chinese be distinguished from "barbarians".