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Zhu Xi’s Interpretation of the Five Canonical Scriptures

  • Hans van EssEmail author
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Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 13)

Abstract

This article is an attempt to summarize the most important aspects of Zhu Xi’s classical scholarship. Zhu Xi is most famous for his commentaries on the Four Books, a compendium that he compiled himself. Yet, his contribution as a commentator of the five canonical scriptures is also of paramount importance. With his Zhouyi benyi, he strengthened an approach to this text that had been taken by Shao Yong while in his important commentary on the Odes he offered a new interpretation that may be called revolutionary: he did not believe in the received moral interpretations by the Mao/Zheng tradition but said that morally depraved songs were in the collection of the Odes because Confucius had wanted to warn his readers of the behaviour displayed in them. As far as the Documents and the Annals were concerned, Zhu Xi did not provide commentaries of his own, in the first case because he thought that he was lacking technical knowledge to do so, thus leaving the task to write a commentary to his student Cai Shen, in the second case because he believed in the superiority of the commentary by Hu Anguo. Yet, many remarks to be found in Zhu Xi’s Sayings on the Old Text recension of the Documents of Kong Anguo and on the Zuo Commentary also show his critical attitude to matters of authenticity. With his commentary on the Rites Zhu Xi wanted to redress the wrong that Wang Anshi had removed the Ceremonial Rites from the curricula.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Asian StudiesLMU MunichMunichGermany

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