Brief Introductions to the Confucian Philosophers


The original title inscription of this work, Zhu ru shu gai (Brief introductions to the Confucian philosophers), indicates that it was compiled by Wu Ruideng, an official at Guozixue (School for the Sons of the Nobles), assisted by Liu Yuanqin, a secretary at the Ministry of Rites, and edited by Xu Liangfu, an instructor at the school. The book was written as a style manual, for which 57 famous philosophers were selected. Most of the philosophers were from the Song dynasty, except in juan 1, in which several earlier famous philosophers are listed, such as Dong Zhongshu (circa 179‒circa 104 BC) of the Han, Wang Tong (584‒617) of the Sui, and Han Yu (768‒824) of the Tang dynasty. Several sections contain essays on Cheng Yi (1033‒1107) and Cheng Hao (1032‒85), two of the six 11th-century philosophers whom the Neo-Confucian Zhu Xi (1130‒1200) called the “Six Great Masters.” Also included are these philosophers’ teachings and discourses on the Four Books and the Five Classics. The last Song philosopher listed in the book is Li Dong (1093‒1163), the most influential teacher of Zhu Xi. There is a brief biography for each person, discussion of his main thoughts and theories, and an appreciation. The preface was written by Tang Yipeng; it is dated 1596. The seal impressions belonged to the collector of the book: Ning shi zhen cang shu hua zhi zhang (Seal of Ning’s Collection of Calligraphy and Paintings).

Last updated: January 10, 2018