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Neo-Confucianism in the Song Dynasty: Metaphysics Focus Essay


Religion plays a significant role in the development of any society as it includes the major values that govern people’s minds. Confucianism occupies a very special place in the history and culture of China as some aspects and principles are still present in the Chinese society. Confucianism is often seen as a set of rules and regulations associated with morality and ethics, but this religion also explains various enigmas of nature (Liu 85). It can be beneficial to consider metaphysicsin Neo-Confucianism during the Song dynasty.

This period was the time of great prosperity and technological advances when people managed to develop new methods in agriculture, industries, construction,and other fields. These advances changed the way people saw themselves in the world which could not leave religious beliefs intact. This paper focuses on metaphysics in Confucianism during the Song dynasty.

First, it is necessary to note that Neo-Confucianism appeared as a reaction to the popularity of Buddhism in the Chinese society. Chinese scholars and elites wanted to turn back to the classical writings that were seen as pure sources of knowledge (Seok126). Importantly, it was also seen as something national and truly Chinese. This opposition to Buddhism had a certain influence on the principles developed. For instance, Neo-Confucians stressed that the world was material as opposed to Buddhist beliefs that the world was rather an illusion. The dichotomy of being and non-being was not accepted as Neo-Confucians rejected non-being. This view can be regarded as a cause and effect of the major changes that took place in the country. People learned how to handle the material world in many ways, so it is but natural that they focused on being rather than illusions.

Another important aspect of the new religious agenda was the belief that the human was a part of the universe. People were seen as an indispensable part of the system. Harmony was one of the major values as people were to find their place in the universe (Seok 126). Importantly, these principles were manifested in different spheres of human life. For instance, in agriculture, people tried to adjust to the existing conditions and become a part of the environment. People understood that everything in the world followed certain rules and laws. Understanding these laws helped people live better, which translated into better harvests and better living. This focus on the natural world could be the major reason for the development of the Chinese society.

The ideas of wholeness were specifically beneficial for the sphere of education and science as well as the social and political terrains. The principles of harmony implied the need to seek enlightenment (Liu 89). Individuals tried to find their place in the universe and place in the society. Neo-Confucianism was based on the beliefs that every person had to contribute to the good of the overall society. This commitment was regarded as a premise for complete harmony. Moreover, this was one of the primary ways to achieve humanness. To be a human meant to occupy a proper place in the society and to be a member of the system.

This principle has been a part of Chinese people’s worldview for centuries. This idea is also regarded as one of the pillars of the modern Chinese society and its remarkable progress in the late 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. Self-interests were nothing compared to the needs of the community and families. The focus on harmony and each individuals’ contribution is quite the opposite to the western individualism.

It is also necessary to note that the search of enlightenment was associated with the concept of authority. Neo-Confucians of the Song dynasty referred to classical texts and tried to interpret them rather than develop new ideas and principles. Authority can be regarded as a continuation of the search for harmony and the most appropriate place in the universe. The family could be seen a reflection of larger systems where authority played an important role.

Younger generations were to follow the established traditions and rules. At that, these norms were always adjusted to make them appropriate for the challenges the society had to face. Patriarchal values have been central to the Chinese culture, which could also contribute to the societal success. The outstanding progress in the spheres of economy and technology during the Song dynasty, as well as modern times, is partially a result of the power of authority and the focus on interests of the community.

In conclusion, it is possible to note that Neo-Confucianism in the Song dynasty was revived as Chinese people wanted to have their own national set of principles. They referred to old books and searched for enlightenment. This enlightenment, as well as the search for harmony, was the major cause and effect of the rapid development of the Chinese society during the Song dynasty and during the second part of the 20th century. Neo-Confucians taught people to understand the material world around them and be an integral part of this world. Chinese people’s commitment to be a part of a larger system is an important factor that contributed to their achievements.

Works Cited

Liu, JeeLoo. Neo-Confucianism: Metaphysics, Mind, and Morality. John Wiley & Sons, 2017.

Seok, Bongrae. Embodied Moral Psychology and Confucian Philosophy. Rowman & Littlefield, 2013.

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IvyPanda. "Neo-Confucianism in the Song Dynasty: Metaphysics Focus." November 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/neo-confucianism-in-the-song-dynasty-metaphysics-focus/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Neo-Confucianism in the Song Dynasty: Metaphysics Focus." November 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/neo-confucianism-in-the-song-dynasty-metaphysics-focus/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Neo-Confucianism in the Song Dynasty: Metaphysics Focus'. 1 November.

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