AU: 4.0
Programme: CHIN(HSS)

Neo-Confucianism (li-xue), otherwise known as dao-xue, is the broad term designated to describe the mode of Confucianism (ru-xue) during the Song-Ming eras, which, since its conception, has been viewed as the learning to achieve both sagehood (internally) and kinghood (externally). Through an analysis of the ideas and history entailed by the Neo-Confucianism movement, this course aims to reflect on the intellectual, social, political and religious concerns of Confucians in the Song-Mong eras. Focus will be placed on (1) the Confucians' balancing act of cultivating one's moral character (xiu-shen) and advocating social reforms (jing-shi), as well as (2) their stand on the relationship between the Way (dao-tong) and the legitimacy to rule (zhi-tong). Furthermore, we see that the Neo-Confucians had a difference of choices on the issue of joining the officialdom: to join is to advocate social reform top-down through politics, as opposed to advocating social reform bottom-up through moral education in the society. This testifies to the fact the Neo-Confucians, in their capacity as gentry-men (shi-ren), had different standards with regards to moral ideals and political aspirations, and as such, had different understandings and considerations when contemplating the raison d'etre for the gentry-class. To that extent, they also had different thoughts on the role that state power (as expressed through politics) and social education played in social reform. That being said, in order to arrive at a holistic understanding of the Neo-Confucians, this course will not only focus on their capacity as intellectual thinkers (as seen through the philosophical concepts and moral cultivation approaches they proposed), but also consider them in their political, social, and historical roles.