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Persons in Chinese History - Lü Zuqian 呂祖謙

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Lü Zuqian 呂祖謙 (1137-1181), courtesy name Lü Bogong 呂伯恭, style Donglai xiansheng 東萊先生, was a mid-Song period 宋 (960-1279) writer and philosopher. His ancestors came originally from the region of modern Shanxi and moved several times. When the Song court fled to Hangzhou 杭州 (modern Hangzhou, Zhejiang) and founded the Southern Song dynasty 南宋 (1127-1279), Lü Zuqian's grandfather Lü Haowen 呂好問 settled down in Wuzhou 婺州 (modern Jinhua 金華, Zhejiang). The philosophical school of Lü Zuqian is therefore called the "School of Lü" 呂學, "School of Wuzhou" 婺學, or "School of Jinhua" 金華學派. A lot of members of the Lü family had become high ministers under the Song emperors, like Lü Mengzhong 呂蒙正, Lü Yijian 呂夷簡, Lü Gongbi 呂公弼, Lü Gongzhu 呂公著, or Lü Xizhe 呂希哲, and a lot of them are mentioned among the the bibliographies of the Song-Yuan xue an 宋元學案.
Lü Zuqian earned his jinshi degree in 1163 and was nominated candidate for the examination of erudite literatus (boxue hongci ke 博學鴻詞科), he was appinted junior compiler in the Historiography Academy (guoshiyuan bianxiuguan 國史院編修官). He profited a lot not only from the eminent political strength of his family, but also from their educational background. He had therefore access to eminent Neo-Confucian scholars like Zhu Xi 朱熹 or Zhang Shi 張栻, together with whom he belonged to the "Three Worthies of the Southeast" (Dongnan san xian 東南三賢). He was also befriended with Chen Fuliang 陳傅良, Chen Liang 陳亮, Ye Shi 葉適, Lu Jiushao 陸九韶, Lu Jiuling 陸九齡 and Lu Jiuyuan 陸九淵. Lü Zuqian was the initator of the conference of Ehu 鵝湖之會, during which Zhu Xi and his philosophical opponent Lu Jiuyuan met for discussion.
Lü Zuqian himself was an adherent of the theory of the "Heavenly principle" (tianli 天理) developed by the two brothers Cheng Yi 程頤 and Cheng Hao 程顥, and was inclined to Cheng Hao's concept of the "teaching of the mind" (xinxue 心學), which brought him into the vicinity of Lu Jiuyuan. Yet he also cooperated with Zhu Xi and together with this great master compiled a history of Northern Song Neo-Confucianism, the book Jinsilu 近思錄. Lü Zuqian stressed that the excellent philosopher had to combine the teachings in the Confucian Classics with a practical application (zhiyong 致用). He has therefore written a lot of books that tried finding a practicability of Confucianism. These were Donglai Zuoshi boyi 東萊左氏博議 (shortly called Donglai boyi 東萊博議), Lüshi jiashu du Shi ji 呂氏家塾讀詩記, Shushuo 書說, Yishuo 易說 (also knwon as Xici jingyi 繫辭精義), Gu Zhouyi 古周易, Gu Yi yinxun 古易音訓, Zhouyi chuanyi yinxun 周易傳義音訓, Chunqiu Zuoshizhuan shuo 春秋左氏傳說, or Chunqiu Zuoshizhuan xushuo 春秋左氏傳續說. In Lü's eyes it was important to study the books of history, in order to learn from good and bad examples of the past. Compared with very practical ancient writings like the book Guanzi 管子, it was not so easy to extract practical information from the Confucian Classics. This was, nevertheless, possible, so the the Confucian Classics could likewise serve as books on practical government (yi jing wei shi 以經為史 "the Classics as histories"). For this approach, he earned harsh critique by Zhu Xi, who totally disagreed with the historiographical interpretation of the Classics.
Lü Zuqian also wrote the books Guwen guanjian 古文關鍵 and the collection Songwenjian 宋文鑒.


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

May 28, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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