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Daoist Equalization Against The Universal Principle: Zhang Taiyan’s Critique Of Late Qing Political Theory

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Chapter Summary

This chapter shows how Zhang formulated a critique of political institutions and ideologies from his unique Buddhist/Daoist perspective. He continues this negative gesture as he attacked the concept of &t;universal principle,&t; which in the late Qing could include the ideas of &t;evolution,&t; &t;natural and scientific law,&t; and &t;ethical norm.&t; These various, often interrelated, manifestations of the universal principle bring difference and particularity under a homogenizing principle. He deals with a topic that recurs in his writings, namely primordial confusion and its relation to the production of the world. He addressed four &t;confusions&t;: &t;the universal principle,&t; &t;evolution,&t; the idea that things are &t;only matter,&t; and the idea of &t;nature.&t; These four are related in that they all arise from insufficient reflection on the role of consciousness in their production. The issues that Zhang's philosophy of equalization summons but never resolves are how to think politics outside of these dominant paradigms.

Keywords: Buddhist; Daoist equalization; evolution; Qing; universal principle; Zhang Taiyan



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