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Full Access On the Academic Differences between Xihe School and Zhusi School

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On the Academic Differences between Xihe School and Zhusi School

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image of Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Ever since Han Fei proposed that “Confucianism has divided into eight schools,” the divisions among Confucius' followers have been a complicated puzzle in Chinese academic history. After the demise of Confucius, two schools, Xihe School and Zhusi School, founded by Zixia and Zengzi respectively, had the biggest influence. Inheriting and developing Confucianism, these two schools each had their own unique insights. If we compare their thoughts, the development of early Confucianism can be found has two different approaches: (1) Zixia attached great importance to study. He practiced Confucianism by means of learning comprehensively and belonged to the school of knowledge seeking. On the other hand, Zengzi valued one's perfect inner personality. He paid much more attention to searching inwardly, and honored “morality” at all times. (2) Zixia paid special attention to the ritual system, emphasizing the external ritual specifications of human behavior, and advocating cultivating one's morality from outside to inside. Zengzi maintained cultivating one's morality from inside to outside, especially through self- reflection. (3) Zixia emphasized self-cultivating and being harmonious to others, therefore he focused on external achievements, while Zengzi paid more attention to moral integrity. (4) While Zixia rarely discussed filial piety, Zengzi regarded filial piety as the most important virtue. Since filial piety is applicable universally, Zengzi's philosophy is a filial piety-rooted philosophy. Broadly speaking, Zengzi and Zixia's main difference lies in their different approaches to learning. Despite these differences, as firm Confucians they are “the same in Dao and different in methods.”


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