Chu Hsib (1130–1200), one of the greatest Chinese thinkers since Confucius and Mencius, and the most important in the last eight hundred years, synthesized Neo- Confucianism and built his own philosophy on a new basis. This philosophy—which dominated Chinese thought from the fourteenth century on, Korean thought since the fifteenth century, and Japanese thought since the sixteenth century—began to attract European attention in the seventeenth century. At that time, Catholic missionaries in China quarreled over the translation of “God” as Shang-tic (Lord-on-High), and over the interpretations of the Chinese term t'iend (Heaven). Consequently, they began to study Neo-Confucian thought. The publication, in 1715, of the Hsing-li ching-ie (Essentials of Neo-Confucianism) had a strong impact on them; Chu Hsi and other Neo-Confucian thinkers gradually occupied the minds of Catholic missionaries.

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