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Society of Zhu Xi Studies founded in XMU

ICE    Public:Think    Datetime:2012-5-25
The Society of Zhu Xi Studies, the first one of its kind in China, was established at XMU on the morning of Oct. 9th. Prof. Chen Zhiping, director of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities presided over the unveiling ceremony. Prof. Zhu Chongshi, President of XMU, was elected as the 1st President of the society. The establishment of the society was followed by a symposium entitled, ´Zhu Xi´s thought and its modern cross-cultural significance.´ The symposium attracted more than one hundred experts and scholars who discussed and exchanged their ideas regarding the interaction between Zhu Xi´s thought and Chinese culture.

Zhu Xi and his thoughts
Zhu Xi Studies refers to the major philosophical schools of Neo-Confucianism, which are based on the ideas of the Neo-Confucian philosopher Zhu Xi (Chu-Hsi). Zhu Xi was a preeminent scholar, classicist and a first-rate analytic and synthetic thinker, creating the supreme synthesis of Song-Ming dynasty (960-1628 CE) Neo-Confucianism. Moreover, Zhu Xi selected the essential classical Confucian texts-the Analects of Confucius (Lun Yu), the Book of Mencius (Meng Zi), the Great Learning (Da Xue) and the Doctrine of the Mean (Zhong Yong)-edited them, added commentary, and recompiled them as the Four Books (Si Shu). In doing so, Zhu redefined the Confucian tradition and outlook. The Four Books became required reading for the imperial examination system from the Yuan dynasty (1280-1341) until the system was abolished near the end of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) in 1908. In his philosophical work, Zhu fused the concepts of the principal Northern Song (960-1126 CE) thinkers, Shao Yong (1011-77), Zhou Dunyi (1017-73), Zhang Zai (Chang Tsai, 1020-77) and the brothers Cheng Yi (1033-1107) and Cheng Hao (1032-85) into a rich, grand synthesis.
Zhu Xi erected a metaphysical synthesis that has been compared broadly to the systems of Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and Whitehead. He maintained that all things are brought into being by the union of two universal aspects of reality: qi, sometimes translated as vital (or physical, material) force; and li, sometimes translated as rational principle (or law). According to Zhu Xi´s theory, qi and li operate together in mutual dependence and these two aspects are manifested in the creation of substantial entities. Zhu Xi´s thought has been the starting point for intellectual discourse and the focus of disputation for the last 800 years. His influence spread to Korea and Japan, which adopted Confucianism and the imperial examination system.
In summary, the depth and range of Zhu Xi´s thought were unparalleled in the tradition. Zhu Xi studies continue to be vital, wide-ranging and contentious, drawing growing global, cross-cultural interest.

Zhu Xi Studies in Xiamen University
Zhu Xi studies is a popular trend at present among China´s institutes of higher education. Why, you might wonder was the society established at Xiamen University rather than elsewhere?
In fact, Xiamen University has a long tradition in the study of Zhu Xi´s philosophy. In the early days at Xiamen University, in the 1920s, several professors began conducting research in Zhu Xi studies. Prof. Zhu Qianzhi, for example, published his monograph Zhu Xi Studies in Japan. The Institute of Zhu Xi Studies attracted scores of experts and scholars, such as the famous scholar Gao Lingyin, who explored Zhu Xi´s theory from a historical perspective and published two books, Anecdotes of Zhu Xi and Zhu Xi Studies in Fujian Province.
In 2006, the Sinology Institute re-opened in Xiamen University and attached great importance to the study of South China traditional culture based on Zhu Xi´s philosophy. Two major research programmes on Zhu Xi studies were initiated, Zhu Xi studies in the western countries led by Prof. Chen Jiaming and Studies of Zhu Xi´s philosophy led by Prof. Yue Aiguo. Several monographs, translated works and research achievements have since been published.
According to Prof. Chen Zhiping, the society will launch a series of research and exchange events in the future, including sorting and translating classical literature, editing and publishing academic journals, setting up funds to encourage Zhu Xi studies and developing communication and exchange with Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and overseas institutes. With this society, Xiamen University will continue to be the pioneer in Zhu Xi studies.

Closer to Zhu Xi
The establishment of the society aroused the interest of both XMU students and teachers. Dong Ligong, a doctoral student from the College of Humanities, said that the society would act as a platform for researchers to exchange their ideas from different perspectives like history, philosophy, literature and pedagogy and finally contribute to developing a comprehensive interpretation of Zhu Xi´s theory.
Experts have said that Zhu Xi´s views remain the most systematic and influential accounts of Confucian values from the time of their composition to the present, and have made a lasting and immeasurable impact upon Chinese life and society. Some of familiar famous quotes that originated from Zhu Xi´s works are, ´Prepare things before you need them; do not wait to dig a well until you are thirsty.´, ´Think not of the good turns done to others; forget not the kindnesses received.´, ´Whatever you do, always allow some leeway for unforeseen circumstances. When you are successful in one endeavour, do not aspire to have the success repeated.´, ´To do good for others to see is not true goodness; to do evil in fear of others knowing is indeed grievous evil.´. The Society of Zhu Xi studies not only opens its doors to experts, but also welcomes the explorations of average students. Students could look more closely into Zhu Xi and contemplate his thoughts in diverse ways.
Associate Professor Xie Xiaodong suggested students carry out extensive reading and take courses to further their understanding of Zhu Xi´s philosophy. He recommended elective courses like ´Zhu Xi: an appreciation´ and ´Zhu Xi studies: the Neo-Confucianism´ and books such as ´Zhu Xi studies in Fujian Province´ and ´The study of Zhu Xi´s philosophy´, which will help students gradually get closer to the essence of Zhu Xi. In addition, the newly established society will also launch some interesting activities to attract more and more students to learn, study and spread Zhu Xi´s philosophy.

As President Zhu articulated at the ceremony, Zhu Xi´s thought is extensive and profound. It constitutes the percious cultural treasure of Chinese tradition. XMU attaches great importance to the ongoing transmission of our cultural heritage. At present, XMU has attracted a group of active and honourable experts and scholars in Zhu Xi studies and witnessed fruitful results, paving a smooth way for the future development of the society. On one hand, it will promote XMU´s humanities education and research and on the other, it will provide a platform for global communication and cooperation in Zhu Xi studies.
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