Neo-Confucianism in History

Neo-Confucianism in History

by Peter K. Bol


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Where does Neo-Confucianism—a movement that from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries profoundly influenced the way people understood the world and responded to it—fit into our story of China’s history?

This interpretive, at times polemical, inquiry into the Neo-Confucian engagement with the literati as the social and political elite, local society, and the imperial state during the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties is also a reflection on the role of the middle period in China’s history. The book argues that as Neo-Confucians put their philosophy of learning into practice in local society, they justified a new social ideal in which society at the local level was led by the literati with state recognition and support. The later imperial order, in which the state accepted local elite leadership as necessary to its own existence, survived even after Neo-Confucianism lost its hold on the center of intellectual culture in the seventeenth century but continued as the foundation of local education. It is the contention of this book that Neo-Confucianism made that order possible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674053243
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 05/01/2010
Series: Harvard East Asian Monographs , #307
Pages: 450
Sales rank: 1,250,235
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Peter K. Bol is Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Neo-Confucianism in History

  1. The World of the Eleventh Century: 750 and 1050 Compared
  2. Searching for a New Foundation in the Eleventh Century
  3. The Neo-Confucians
  4. Politics
  5. Learning
  6. Belief
  7. Society

  • Afterword: China's History and Neo-Confucianism

  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Character List
  • Index

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