In studying the ideas of Sung Neo-Confucians, scholars have made much use of the so-called yü-lu texts, or “records of conversations.” Disciples, sitting in the presence of their master, would record his exchanges with them; less frequently they would jot them down later from memory. The ideas of many of the foremost thinkers of the Sung dynasty (960–1279) are better known to us as a result of the stenographic efforts of their disciples: the teachings of Chang Tsai (1020–1077), Cheng I (1032–1107), Cheng Hao (1032–1085), Hsieh Liang-tso (1050–1103), Yang Shih (1053–1135), Lu Hsiang-shan (1139–1193), and Chu Hsi (1130–1200), to name but a few, were transmitted to later generations in yü-lu, recorded and edited by devoted followers.

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