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For hundreds of years, every literate person in China was familiar with Chu Hsi's teachings. They informed the curricula of private academies and public schools and became the basis of the state's prestigious civil service examinations. Nor was Chu's influence limited to China. In Korea and Japan as well, his teachings defined the terms of scholarly debate and served as the foundation for state ideology.
Chu Hsi was convinced that through education anyone could learn to be fully moral and thus travel the road to sagehood. Throughout his life, he struggled with the philosophical questions underlying education: What should people learn? How should they go about learning? What enables them to learn? What are the aims and the effects of learning?
Part One of Learning to Be a Sage examines Chu Hsi's views on learning and how he arrived at them. Part Two presents a translation of the chapters devoted to learning in the Conversations of Master Chu.