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When Shen Gua Encountered The 'Natural World': A Preliminary Discussion On The Mengxi Bitan And The Concept Of Nature

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Chapter Summary

Although having studied the Mengxi bitan for some years, the author is yet to consider how this great Song biji (note-form literature), the major extant work of a remarkably learned literatus Shen Gua, might relate to the great western concept of nature'. In this chapter, the author's intention is to show how polymaths like Shen Gua, already well known for the scope and depth of his encyclopedic-like knowledge within Northern Song contexts, organized his knowledge in patterns that not only well suited the mainstream biji genre of his time, but also directly reflect Shen Guas fundamental categories of knowledge. The author gives a brief introduction on the internal structure of the Mengxi, namely, its pattern of organizing the entire 609 jottings. He argues that Shens attitude in xiangshu is actually in accordance with his general epistemological position in the Mengxi.

Keywords: Mengxi bitan; natural world; Shen Gua; Song biji



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