An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Chen Fuliang 陳傅良

May 28, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Chen Fuliang 陳傅良 (1137-1203), courtesy name Junju 君舉, style Zhizhai Xiansheng 止齋先生, was a historian and philosopher and a representative of the Zhedong School of the Yongjia reign-period (Zhedong Yongjia xuepai 浙東永嘉學派 of the early Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279).

He hailed from Wenzhou 溫州 (modern Rui'an 瑞安, Zhejiang) and earned his jinshi degree in 1172. Chen first served in the National University (taixue 太學) and as gentleman for attendance (chengfenglang 承奉郎), then as controller-general (tongpan 通判) of the prefecture of Fuzhou 福州, as military prefect (zhijun 知軍) of Guiyang 桂陽, judicial commissioner (tidian xingyu gongshi 提点刑獄公事) of the circuit of Zhexi 浙西, examining editor (jiantaoguan 檢討官) of the True Records Institute (shiluyuan 實錄院), Vice Director of the Palace Library (mishusheng shaojian 秘書省少監), houseman (sheren 舍人) and expositor-in-waiting (shijiang 侍講) in the Palace Secretariat (zhongshusheng 中書省), auxiliary Hanlin academician (zhixueyuan shi 直學院士), and edict attendant (daizhi 待制) in the Hall for Treasuring the Heritage 寶謨閣. He was known as a honest and incorrupt official.

Chen Fuliang was a disciple of Xue Jixuan 薛季宣 (1134-1173) and became a follower of Ye Shi 葉適 (1150-1223), the founder of the Zhedong School of Neo-Confucianism. He investigated the Confucian Classics and the historiographical writings to find support for a practical philosophy, as he was an administrator in the Song empire. Chen was very inspired by the concept of the "human way" (ren dao 人道) and the "human affairs" (ren shi 人事) that were to serve as guidelines for all honest state officials. It was in his eyes also a duty of the Song government to restore rule over the Yellow River plain, the cradle of ancient China, which had been lost to the Jin empire 金 (1115-1234) of the Jurchens 女真. The reconquest of the north would only be possible if the government was able to assemble all people's hearts (jie min xin 結民心) and to relax their physical powers and taxation (kuan min li 寬民力). Shortcomings and defects in the administration had to be altered in a very practical way, so that success in work (shigong 事功) would end in positive results. In this respect, Chen supported the practically oriented arguments of Chen Liang 陳亮 (1143-1194) in his debate with the great philosopher Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200) about the moral function of kings and hegemons (wang ba yi li 王霸義利 "moral and profit under kings and hegemons").

Chen Fuliang's most important books are Chunqiu houzhuan 春秋後傳, Lunzu 論祖 and Aolun 奥論. His collected writings are assembled in the book Zhizhai wenji 止齋文集.

Pang Pu 龐樸, ed. (1997). Zhongguo ruxue 中國儒學 (Shanghai: Dongfang chuban zhongxin), Vol. 2, 148.