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Zhu Xi and the Idea of One Body

  • Kwong-loi ShunEmail author
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Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 13)

Abstract

Zhu Xi idealizes a state of existence in which one forms one body (yi ti 一體) with all things, describing the sage as being in such a state. This chapter will discuss the way he understands this idea and its philosophical implications. Zhu’s understanding of the idea has five dimensions: (1) sensitivity to harm to all things; (2) giving life to and nourishing all things; (3) viewing the human community in terms of family relationships; (4) a sense of mission and accountability; and (5) the idea of no self (無我). The first four dimensions draw on ideas before Zhu’s times, and Sect. 2 discusses the evolvement of these four themes from pre-Qin to early Song. Section 3 focuses on Zhu’s understanding of the idea of one body, how he draws on and integrates ideas of other early Song Confucians, inlcuidng Zhang Zai (1020–1077), Cheng Hao (1032–1085) and Cheng Yi (1033–1107). These early Song thinkers, including Zhu himself, highlight the idea of no self in relation to the idea of one body. Section 4 discusses the philosophical implications of the idea of one body, in particular its relation to contemporary discussions of related ideas such as sympathy, empathy, perspective taking, and self-other merging.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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