Zhu Xi’s Critical Naturalism: Methodology of His Natural Knowledge and Philosophy

  • Vincent Shen
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 13)


This chapter concerns itself with the methodological issues related to Zhu Xi’s natural knowledge and philosophy that we may call a critical naturalism. He takes a critical attitude in establishing his philosophy on both natural and supernatural phenomena (thus called by others) in looking for their reason d’être or principle (li 理). In the following, we will discuss first of all some cautious distinctions in dealing with his methodology. Then we will proceed to explain what I mean by “critical naturalism,” in discussing the natural philosophy and the methodological issues involved in this naturalist enterprise. The basic idea Zhu Xi appeals to in his methodology may be summarized in what he calls “seeing things from things themselves” (yi wu guan wu 以物觀物), as distinguished from “seeing things from oneself (yi ji guan wu 以己觀物)” with a critical eye. Then we will proceed to discuss how this natural attitude affects his consideration of some “supernatural” issues seen as such by many people.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincent Shen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Department of East Asian StudiesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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