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Persons in Chinese History - Wei Liaoweng 魏了翁

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Wei Liaoweng 魏了翁 (1178-1237), courtesy name Wei Huafu 魏華父, style Heshan xiansheng 鶴山先生, was a Confucian scholar of the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279). He came from Pujiang 蒲江 in the Prefecture of Qiongzhou 邛州, Sichuan, and obtained his jinshi degree in 1199. He was appointed prefect (zhizhou 知州) of Hanzhou 漢州, then Meizhou 眉州, and Luzhou 瀘州. Until then he had never lest Sichuan, but finally he joined Zhen Dexiu 真德秀 who had a court audience. At this occastion Wei Liaoweng was promoted to the position of Minister of Rites (libu shangshu 禮部尚書) and concurrently vice director of the Institute of Academicians 學士院, and *vice compiler (tongxiu 同修) and expositor-in-waiting (shidu 侍讀) of the Historiography Institute 國史館. He finally was notary of the administrative assistant (qianshu 僉書) of the Military Affairs Commission (shumiyuan 樞密院) and then Grand Academician (daxueshi 大學士) in the Hall for Aid in Governance 資政殿. As a friend of Zhen Dexiu, his name was often mentioned together with Zhen's, as Xishan-Heshan 西山鶴山 "the masters from Mt. Xishan and Mt. Heshan".
Wei Liaowang was an ardent supporter of Neo-Confucianism and the school of the brothers Cheng Yi 程頤 and Cheng Hao 程顥 and Zhu Xi 朱熹. Yet he doubted whether Zhu Xi's comments to the Confucian Classics were really comprehensive, and felt compelled to undergo further research and considerations in this direction. He was also opposed to Buddhism and Daoism because both had a negative connotation of human desires (yu 欲). The saints of the past, he said, did not say that humans were to have no desires at all (wu yu 無欲), but moderate wishes (gua yu 寡欲). He stressed that one had to use one's own mind (xin 心) to take control over desires. This was possible in his eyes because the mind or heart was, according to the teachings of Shao Yong 邵雍, an early Neo-Confucian master, congruent with the "infinite expansion" (taiji 太極), i.e. the universe. This perception was similar to Lu Jiuyuan's 陸九淵 "teaching of the mind" (xinxue 心學), a school competing with Zhu Xi's "School of the Principle" (lixue 理學).
Wei Liaoweng's most important writings are Jiujing yaoyi 九經要義, Jingwai zachao 經外雜鈔 and Gujin kao 古今考. His collected writings are called Heshan quanji 鶴山全集.


Source: Pang Pu 龐樸 (ed. 1997), Zhongguo ruxue 中國儒學 (Shanghai: Dongfang chuban zhongxin), Vol. 2, p. 159.

May 28, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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