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The Idealistic Tendency in Ch’eng Hao 程顥:唯心論的趨勢. Wing-tsit Chan 陳榮捷. “idealistic?” 「唯心論 ( 型態 ) 的」?「觀念論 ( 型態 ) 的」?. 問題: 以類似的術語為中國哲學(某派、某家)定位、定性是否恰當? 抑或是一時權宜運用 、「 得意忘言 」 ?. 程頤較之程顥是(更)唯理些,而程顥較之程頤是(更)唯心些 … 程顥開啟儒家的唯心派,其弟則開啟了唯理派。

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the idealistic tendency in ch eng hao

The Idealistic Tendency in Ch’eng Hao程顥:唯心論的趨勢

Wing-tsit Chan


“idealistic?” 「唯心論(型態)的」?「觀念論(型態)的」?





Ch’eng I is so much more rationalistic than Ch’eng Hao and Ch’eng Hao is so much more idealistic than Ch’eng I that it is permissible to say that Ch’eng Hao inaugurated the idealistic wing of Neo-Confucianism while his brother inaugurated the rationalistic wing,…






[T]heir fundamental agreement, which forms the keynote to their philosophy in particular and to Neo-Confucianism in general, namely, the concept of principle (li), must be pointed out…


More especially for Ch’eng Hao, principle is the Principle of Nature (Tien-li, Principle of Heaven). As conceived and understood by the brothers, principle is self-evident and self-sufficient, extending everywhere and governing all things. It cannot be augmented or diminished. It is many but it is essentially one, for all specific principles are but principle. It is possessed by all people and all things. Even a very small thing has principle. It is laid before our very eyes.


Man and all things form one body because all of them share this principle. To be sincere is to be sincere to it, and to be serious is to be serious about it. In short, it is one and all. It is identical with the mind and it is identical with the nature. All things exist because of it and can be understood through it. It is universal truth, universal order, universal law. Most important of all, it is a universal process of creation and production. It is dynamic and vital.


It can easily be seen that to the Ch’eng brothers this principle means both natural principles and moral principles, and both general principles and specific principles. They were not much concerned with abstract reality, for they were primarily interested in the meaning of principle for man. Thus they turned Neo-Confucianism from speculation on cosmology to concentrate on the problems of principle and human nature, thereby making Neo-Confucianism truly a School of Nature and Principle.

將新儒家哲學 從玄思默想的宇宙論脫離出來

「玄思默想的宇宙論」(speculation on cosmology)所指為何?




t ien li according to hu shih stands for the natural law
T’ien-li, [according to] Hu Shih, stands for the Natural Law.

「何謂『天理』?依胡適,天理代表 Natural Law」(自然法,自然律,自然法則[Stoicism] ?)

「理」、「天理」(Principle, “the Principle of Nature”)vs. Natural Law

[S]o far as the concept of the Principle of Nature is concerned, he got no help from them. The term T’ien-li appears in the Book of Rites. However, there it means the principle endowed in man by Heaven and does not have the connotation of universal truth or natural law.

Ch’eng himself once said, “Although I have learned some of my doctrines from others, the concept of the Principle of Nature, however, has been realized by myself.” What is said of Ch’eng Hao could have been said of Ch’eng I.

就「 天理」概念而論 [中譯本作「性理」,有誤],《易傳》與〈中庸〉殊無多助益。「天理」一詞出於《禮記》[〈樂記〉],其意僅指理為天所賦予人者,並無普遍真理與普遍法則的意涵。謝良佐記程顥之言曰:「吾學雖有所受,『天理』二字,卻是自家體貼出來』。」

「體貼」,英譯為 “realize”。


[I]t was the Ch’eng brothers’ own idea to make principle the central focus of their philosophy. While the two brothers shared common ideas about it, they also had different emphases

Ch’eng I stressed the doctrine that principle is one but its manifestations are many.


Compared with his brother, Ch’eng Hao has emphasized more strongly the idea of production and reproduction as the chief characteristic of the universe. He saw the spirit of life in all things. To him, this creative quality is jen (humanity), which removes all distinctions between the self and the other and combines Heaven, Earth, and man as one.





As the great virtue of Heaven and Earth is to produce, whatever is produced in man, that is, whatever is inborn in him, is his nature. To him this is identical with material force (ch’i). In its original, tranquil state, human nature is neither good nor evil. The distinction arises when human nature is aroused and is manifested in feelings and actions, and when these feelings and action abide by or deviate from the mean.

The chief task of moral and spiritual cultivation is to calm one’s nature, through absolute impartiality and the identification of internal and external life. Any opposition between the internal and the external, he said, must be forgotten. In fact, he rejects dichotomy of any kind, whether between the human mind and the moral mind, between the Principle of Nature and human desires, or between human nature and feelings. To achieve unity, he advocated sincerity and seriousness (ching), that is, concentrating on thing and not getting away from it.
quietism but not tranquility
Quietism, but not tranquility?

There can be no denial that in advocating such a method of moral cultivation he tended to quietism. Whether he was influenced by Chou Tun-i or by Zen Buddhists of both is a moot point. We must not forget, however, that he looked upon Chou Tun-i’s doctrine of tranquility as unbalanced and substituted for it seriousness.

Moreover, to him the universe is a great current of production. Whatever quietism there is in him, then, is not Buddhist emptiness and silence but a vital, if gentle and quiet, process. Like the Buddhists, however, he almost exclusively emphasizes the mind. To him, “Principle and the mind are one,” and he stresses holding on to the mind with seriousness and preserving the mind as fundamental steps to moral perfection. In thus stressing the mind, he and his brother, who stressed more strongly the extension of knowledge, moved in different directions.
dynamic idealistic in wang yang ming
Dynamic Idealistic in Wang Yang-Ming力動的唯心論:王陽明

Wing-tsit Chan


朱子哲學那種對根本原理進行理性探索與純粹研究的精神,在陽明時代,已漸腐蝕瑣屑,而成為王陽明所謂 『支離破碎』。

[Chu Hsi’s philosophical] spirit of rational inquiry and genuine search for fundamental principles had, by Wang’s time, degenerated into trifling with what Wang called “fragmentary and isolated details and broken pieces.”


To Wang, the source of the trouble was the erroneous theory of the investigation of things propagated by Ch’eng I and Chu Hsi. In insisting that every blade of grass and every tree possesses principle and therefore should be investigated, the theory diverted people from the basic principles of things and the fundamentals of life.
Moreover, by saying that the mind should go to things to investigate the principles inherent in them, the theory considered things as external and separated the mind and principle. As a result, according to Wang, the mind lost its direction and its motivating power. If principles were outside the mind, he said, then the principle of filial piety and therefore the desire to be filial would cease to be as soon as the parents die. To him, principle and the mind are one and the principle of filial piety is nothing but the exercise of the mind.

By the mind Wang meant essentially the will. There would be no principle or things unless the mind were determined to realize it. This is the reason why Wang insisted that the sincerity of the will must precede the investigation of things.


In this he directly opposed Chu Hsi who shifted the chapters of the Great Learning so that that on the investigation of things comes before that on the sincerity of the will.

Wang rejected this rearrangement and returned to the old text as it is found in the Book of Rites where the chapter on the sincerity of the will comes first.

朱熹 vs. 王陽明

The fundamental difference between Chu and Wang lies in the fact that while Chu’s approach is intellectual, Wang’s is moral. Chu Hsi interpreted the term ko-wu as the rational and objective investigation of things, but Wang preferred to interpret it to mean to “eliminate what is incorrect in the mind so as to preserve the correctness of its original substance.” That is to say, to investigate things or affairs is to do good and to remove evil.




Actually Wang’s theory is entirely subjective and confuses reality with value. It is difficult to accept his version of ko-wu, for if the term means to rectify the mind, why should it be ko-wu (to ko things) instead of ko-hsin (to ko the mind)? His interpretation is of course based on the theory that the mind and things are one. But this theory of his is founded on very shaky grounds. …

The point, however, is that his whole emphasis is on moral values. He was convinced that if the mind is divided or devoted to external things, it will be concerned only with fragmentary details and will lack the essentials.






What was Wang’s remedy for this sad situation? The remedy is his greatest contribution to Chinese philosophy, namely, the doctrine of the extension of the innate knowledge of the good (chih liang-chih). The idea of the extension of knowledge comes from the Great Learning and the idea of innate knowledge of the good from Mencius. Wang’s theory is not merely a combination of the two but it gives them a new meaning which gives a new complexion to Chinese thought.

  • 「致良知」譯為 “the extension of the innate knowledge of the good”
  • 「致知」譯為 “the extension of knowledge”
  • 「致知」譯為 “the innate knowledge of the good”

It is the Principle of Nature (T’ien-li), which is not only the principle of right and wrong but also the principle that naturally extends. The mind in its original substance naturally knows the principle of filial piety, for example, when one sees one’s parents, and naturally extends it into action. 陳榮捷論「知行合一」

  • This leads to another major contribution he made to Chinese philosophy, namely, the doctrine of the unity of knowledge and action.
  • Wang was the first to identify them as one.

1 “The mind […] naturally knows that … and naturally extends it into action”

2 “The unity of knowledge and action”

3 “identify them as one”




fallacy of circular defining?


He was thinking only of a particular kind of knowledge, but his total emphasis on the will is clear.