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Hsuan Hsueh

Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xii ] ‘Dark learning.’ Sometimes referred to as neo-Taoism by modern scholars, an intellectual movement which developed in the 3rd and 4th centuries ce. The main exponents were Wang Pi (226–249 ce ), Ho Yen (d. 249), and Kuo Hsiang (d. 312). Wang Pi was a former minister who wrote commentaries on the T ao te ching and the I Ching (Classic of Changes), emphasizing the ontological aspects of Taoist philosophy (T ao chia ). According to Wang Pi, wu (Non-Being) is the source of all things and is equivalent to the tao of the Tao Te Ching and the t'ai chi (Supreme Ultimate) of the I Ching. Wu is the source and substance ( t'i ) of reality, but its function ( yung ) can only be manifested through yu (Being). Wang Pi's distinction between substance and function and his relating of it to the distinction between Being and Non-Being had an important influence on later Taoist thought, on N eo-confucianism , and even on C hinese buddhism. Ironically, exponents of Hsuan Hsueh honoured C onfucius as a greater sage than Lao Tzu because Confucius was at ease in the world of Being, and did not attempt the impossible by trying to speak of Non-Being. [7: xix , 314–35; 35: v , 170–2] Closely associated with Hsuan Hsueh was the movement known as Ch'ing T'an (Pure Conversation), which probably started in the Later Han dynasty (23–220 ce ) but was adopted by the neo-Taoists for ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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