AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

To acquire wisdom : the "way" of Wang Yang-Ming (1472-1529)

by Julia Ching

Institution: Australian National University
Year: 2013
Record ID: 1034090
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/10183


This is a study of Wang Yang-ming's philosophy, considered as a "Way" of acquiring wisdom and sage­ hood, based on his central insight into the nature of (mind-and-heart), the fundamental principle of all human activity which is capable of determining and of perfecting itself through its intuitive knowledge of the good, at once inborn and acquired. The "Introduction" indicates the broad problem of the quest for wisdom, and of the question of "correctness" of approach and "orthodoxy" of thought which arises, in the context of traditional Chinese philosophy. The first chapter defines the so-called "Confucian Way" as a quest for wisdom, with the latter consisting of the attainment of consciousness of the unity of man with all. things, and of the realisation of a high moral character. It speaks of Han Yu’s effort to "restore" Confucian learning, and especially of the Neo-Confucian synthesis accomplished by Chu His. A brief description of Wang Yang-ming as man and philosopher follows, with special emphasis on his interior evolution. His philosophy is then presented in its gradual development, through an analysis of his teachings of hsin, leading up, after exchanges with certain of his contemporary thinkers, to the discovery of his method of acquiring wisdom through the "extension of liang-chih (knowledge of the good)". The deeper implications of his thought and method are then discussed, expecialy his teaching of the "unity of all things". His expressed attitudes concerning Taoism and Buddhism are also studied, revealing his readiness to accept truth and goodness or "orthodoxy". The concluding chapter offers a critique of his philosophy, evaluating his attempt to solve the basic problem of the acquisition of wisdom, and indicating certain unresolved ambiguities which he has left behind.