AdvisorGimello, Robert M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe Neo-Confucian philosopher Yang Shih (1053-1135) flourished during one of the most fertile periods in the history of Chinese philosophy. His curiosity about differences among the Confucian classics, his interest in the Book of Change, his exploration of Buddhist philosophy and his reaction against the philosophical foundation of Wang An-shih's political policies mark Yang Shih as highly representative of his generation. That these factors led to his formulation of a Confucian metaphysics makes him philosophically significant. Further, as the Ch'eng brothers' emissary to southern China, the founder of the Tung-lin Academy, and a progenitor of Chu Hsi, Yang's historical significance is considerable. Yang Shih forms the link between northern and southern China, the Ch'eng brothers and Chu Hsi. This study offers two types of framework within which the diverse elements of Yang Shih's thought may be analyzed: (1) a systemic approach based on the centrality of metaphysics to his teachings, and (2) a comparative approach examining Yang's reaction to the philosophical underpinnings of Wang An-shih's political theories. The major portion of the dissertation deals with Yang's concept of the Tao as a palpable entity, its operator (the principle of change), and its dynamic (response). It examines the ramifications of this groundwork for Yang's theories of human nature and the value of wen (the written and cultural heritage) as well as his attitude toward so-called "heterodox" schools, most notably Buddhism and Taoism. The secondary portion of the dissertation focusses on Yang Shih's criticism of Wang An-shih's Tzu-shuo. Despite the marked divergence of their approaches to political and social issues, an examination of their respective philosophical theories shows the difference between Yang Shih and Wang An-shih to be predominantly one of discourse and emphasis rather than fundamental metaphysical theory. Three appendices follow the body of the dissertation. The first describes the various available editions of the primary source text; the second consists of a biography of Yang Shih; and a glossary of Chinese terms forms the third.
Degree ProgramOriental Studies