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Title: Connecting man and nature : philosophical meanings of Zhu Xi's poetry
Author: Liu, Siyu
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 2707
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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My thesis closely analyzes the shi poetry of the Song dynasty philosopher Zhu Xi (1130-1200). I look at its deep structure, especially the tensions embedded therein between literature and philosophy, and between his inner mind and the external world, manifested in ways different from what he taught in his philosophical works. Although his poetry itself is not considered to be aesthetically outstanding, I suggest that it is crucial to a better understanding of the evolution of Zhu’s philosophical project on the relationship between humans and the natural world. Zhu Xi wanted to establish and defend a coherent and practical self-cultivation theory, which would enable people to recognize the dao through daily experiences. Nevertheless, in his poetry production, he was facing a long-entrenched influential poetic tradition with its emphasis on the outer world described by embellished words and spontaneous overflow of emotions, while leaving an open end for the meanings or less discriminatively appealing to the Daoist or Buddhist idea of transcendence, the logic of which fundamentally contradicts that of daoxue construction. This made it impossible to achieve the dao in a this-worldly fashion. The contradiction had to be reconciled by Zhu Xi in his poems, an issue that he actually wrestled with throughout his life. Consequently, the style of Zhu Xi’s poetry was differentiated from both that of other Neo-Confucians and indeed that of any other poets in Chinese history. In his poetic texts, the tension between the outer world, inner emotions and philosophical inclination is more intensified, and the exploration of the relationship between man and nature more focused and conscious. In this thesis, I present an aesthetic world of Zhu Xi beyond all his ambiguous philosophical discussions, unfavorable comments on poetry, and his profoundly contradictory attitudes towards versifying.
Supervisor: Ditmanson, Peter; Meyer, Dirk Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literatures of other languages ; Oriental philosophy ; Neo-Confucianism ; Zhu Xi ; chinese poetry