Missions and Expansion
Written by: Jeffrey Richey
During the same period, Confucians in Vietnam, Korea, and Japan continued to absorb the legacies of earlier Chinese thinkers such as Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming. A major concern of Confucianism outside of China at this time was the application of Confucian morality and the practice of Confucian self-cultivation in everyday life, especially the domestic sphere of women and children. In Vietnam, the ruling Le dynasty (1428-1788 C.E.) sponsored the publication of a text known as the Forty-Seven Rules for Teaching and Changing, which promoted social harmony through the rectification of family relationships along Confucian lines.
The two most influential Confucian thinkers in Korea at this time were Yi Hwang (1501-1570 C.E.), also known as Yi Toegye, and Yi I (1536-1584 C.E.), also known as Yi Yulgok, both of whom drew upon Zhu's lixue to promote Confucianism as a resource for everyday life as well as for national defense, especially against Japanese aggression. In Japan, Wang's xinxue was introduced mostly by Buddhist monks of the Zen (Chinese Chan, "Meditation") sect, and thus Wang's Buddhist-inflected Confucianism rivaled Zhu's lixue for popularity once Confucianism became the dominant ideology of Japanese elites after its endorsement by the Tokugawa shogun (military ruler) during the 1600s C.E. Leading Japanese Confucian thinkers such as Fujiwara Seika (1561-1619 C.E.) and Toju Nakae (1608-1648 C.E.) applied Wang's style of Confucianism to the challenges of educating youth, cultivating women's morality, and other domestic concerns. Some Confucians outside of China embraced the lessons of the hanxue movement, including the pioneering Japanese biologist and Confucian scholar, Kaibara Ekken (1630-1714 C.E.) and the Confucian scholars of Vietnam's Le dynasty who conducted empirical research into China's past invasions of Vietnam with an eye to preventing further Chinese domination of their people.
1. What differentiates the Confucianism of the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties from earlier forms of Confucianism?
2. What did Zhu Xi contribute to Confucian thought?
3. What did Wang Yangming contribute to Confucian thought?
4. What differentiates the Confucianism of the Qing dynasty from the Confucianism of the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties?
5. How did Confucian traditions in China influence the development of thought elsewhere in East Asia?