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The Buddhist Roots of Zhu Xi's Philosophical Thought$
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John Makeham

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190878559

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190878559.001.0001

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Buddhism and Zhu Xi’s Epistemology of Discernment

Buddhism and Zhu Xi’s Epistemology of Discernment

(p.156) Chapter 3 Buddhism and Zhu Xi’s Epistemology of Discernment
The Buddhist Roots of Zhu Xi's Philosophical Thought

Stephen C. Angle

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on Zhu Xi’s theory of knowing in order to show how Zhu consciously appropriated Buddhist ideas to develop his own thought. Zhu repurposed the Buddhist term zhijue (perceptual awareness) to become a general term for the mind’s various kinds of knowing activity. Zhu’s epistemology was a conscious rejection of radical approach associated with the Song dynasty Chan master Dahui Zonggao (1089–1163). Two parallel lines of argument are presented. First, the main reason that key aspects of Zhu’s thought resemble Buddhist ideas and modes of thought is due to the deep-rooted cultural embeddedness of those Buddhist ideas and modes of thought. Second, despite the fact that Zhu’s epistemic theorizing is replete with terms and phrases that are strongly associated with, and in some cases originate from, Buddhist writing, the similarities in terminology or structure actually mask deep differences.

Keywords:   Zhu Xi, theory of knowing, epistemology, Chan, Dahui Zonggao

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