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Title:On the Margins of the Grand Unity: Empire, Violence, and Ethnicity in the Virtue Ethics and Political Practice of Wang Yangming (1472--1529)
Author(s):Israel, George Lawrence
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Chow, Kai-Wing
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, Asia, Australia and Oceania
Abstract:Previous interpretations of the relationship between Wang Yangming's Neo-Confucian philosophy---his learning of the mind-heart---and his political career (practice) have generally been framed in the larger context of a reading of Neo-Confucianism as a whole. Condemnatory interpretations of Neo-Confucian philosophy yield an agent of feudal ethics and autocratic despotism engaging in acts of repression; celebratory interpretations yield a man of passionate humanity responding to his conscience. This study eschews a simplistic reading of Wang Yangming's actions and policies as an official by showing the promises and limitations of his political philosophy and ethics as he went about the process of defining the situations of conflict he confronted, determining the identities and motivations of those caught up in them, and deciding on what he believed to be a just course of action. Indeed, the assumptions he brought to the table about human nature and the ends of political life at times opened up the possibility for dialogue and a peaceful resolution of conflict, while at others leading to employment of the military instrument. By placing Wang Yangming's ethical philosophy in the context of his official career, it becomes evident that his most fundamental notions were inseparable from the paternalistic civilizing practices of Ming empire, with all the consequences this entailed.
Issue Date:2008
Description:406 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3337804
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2008

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