今天是  星期



State of the Field Report VI

Contemporary Chinese Studies of XIONG Shili (熊十力)

LIU Junping 劉軍平; QIN Ping 秦平


The publication of XIONG Shili’s New Doctrine of Consciousness Only 新唯識論》 in classical Chinese in 1932 marked the formal establishment of his philosophical system. Since then, it has always held interest for the academic community in China. GUO Qiyong 郭齊勇summarized studies of XIONG at home and abroad before the 1980s in “A Review of Studies of XIONG Shili in China and Overseas in the Past Decades” (in Guo 1985: 118-144). The period from the 1980s to the present witnesses a climax of research on XIONG Shili. More and more scholars in China and overseas have interacted with one another, exchanged views, and pursued further their studies of Xiong’s philosophy. In particular, scholars from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao have communicated the latest developments of their independent and unique research works. A significant number of publications on Xiong have followed. This review intends to provide a general picture of the representative research works on Xiong done during the past twenty years. In this sense, it can be regarded as a follow-up of Guo’s above-mentioned review article on the same topic.


I.                   Introduction

In the past two decades, tremendous progress has been made in collecting, collating, and publishing Xiong’s works. The Collected Works of XIONG Shili 《熊十力論著集》 includes New Doctrine of Consciousness Only, On Substance and Function 《論體用》, and Key Sayings of XIONG Shili 《十力語要》 (see Tang and Xiao 1985, 1994, 1996). This is one of the earliest and most authoritative compilations of Xiong’s works. The Collected Works of the Eight Prominent Contemporary New Confucians《當代新儒家八大家集》includes the volume of XIONG Shili’s Collected Works《熊十力集》 (see Huang 1993). Scholarly Records of Contemporary New Confucians《現代新儒家學案》 includes the volume of XIONG Shili’s Scholarly Record 《熊十力學案》 compiled by GUO Qiyong (see Fang and Li). In addition to “Selected Materials of XIONG Shili’s New Confucian Thoughts,” the volume also anthologized some of Xiong’s work on Confucian ontology and methodology, as well as some of his works on comparative studies of Chinese, Indian, and Western cultures. GUO Qiyong also compiled a volume, The Foundation of Contemporary New Confucianism: A Synopsis of XIONG Shili’s New Confucian Works《現代新儒學的根基:熊十力新儒學論著輯要》(Guo 1996), in which some important book chapters and separate articles representing Xiong’s thought are selected according to certain hermeneutic and theoretical frameworks. Later, Guo compiled another volume, XIONG Shili’s Academic and Cultural Essays《熊十力學術文化隨筆》(Guo 1999), including some of Xiong’s brief comments and letters on philosophy and Chinese culture and his ideas on learning from and dealing with people. The most important and influential achievement in this aspect is The Complete Works of XIONG Shili《熊十力全集》, edited, collected, and collated by XIAO Jiefu 蕭萐父, GUO Qiyong, JING Haifeng 景海峰, WANG Shouchang 王守常, CAI Zhaohua 蔡兆華, and others. It has the following ten volumes:

1. Mind Book《心書》(1918), An Outline of Doctrine of Consciousness Only《唯識學概論》(1923), appendix: Chapter on Mirror Image《境相章》(1925), Deletion and Commentary on the Great Collation of the Buddhist Logic《因明大疏刪注》(1926), An Outline of Doctrine of Consciousness Only 《唯識學概論》(1926), Doctrine of Consciousness Only 《唯識論》(1930), and Respectful Records of the Predecessors《尊聞錄》(1930);

2. New Doctrine of Consciousness Only《新唯識論》(in classical Chinese, 1932), Deconstruction of the “Deconstruction of New Doctrine of Consciousness Only《破〈破新唯識論〉》(1933), A Short Compilation of XIONG Shili’s Saying On Learning 《十力論學語輯略》(1935), A General Interpretation of Buddhist Proper Nouns《佛教名相通釋》(1937), Talks on Chinese History《中國歷史講話》(1938), and An Outline of Chinese History《中國歷史綱要》(written during the anti-Japanese war);

3. New Doctrine of Consciousness Only《新唯識論》(in modern Chinese, 1944), and Essential Guide for Reading Confucian Classics《讀經示要》(1945);

4. Key Sayings of XIONG Shili《十力語要》(1947), Chinese Philosophy and Western Science《中國哲學與西洋科學》(1946), and Reading and Transcribing Mahaprajnaparamita-sastra《讀智論鈔》(1947-1948);

5. A Preliminary Supplement to Key Sayings of XIONG Shili《十力語要初續》 (1949), Commentary on Hanfeizi《韓非子評論》(1949), Record of Attacking the Wrong Ideas, Solving Puzzles, and Manifesting the Authenticity《摧惑顯宗記》(1950), A Talk with Friends on ZHANG Jianglin《與友人論張江陵》(1950), and On Six Classics《論六經》(1951);

6. New Doctrine of Consciousness Only《新唯識論》(Revised Version, 1953), and An Inquiry on Confucianism《原儒》(1966);

7. On Substance and Function《體用論》(1958), Treatise on Brightening the Mind《明心篇》(1959), The Evolution of the Cosmos《乾坤衍》(1961), and Cunzhai Essays《存齋隨筆》(1963);

8. XIONG Shili’s Other Articles and Letters《熊十力論文書劄》;

9-10. Appendix Volumes: Collection of Comments on XIONG Shili’s Philosophy《熊十力哲學評論集粹》.


The Complete Works of XIONG Shili, totaling 5,000,000 words, displays a comprehensive picture of Xiong’s scholarly ideas and charismatic personality. In the appendixes, readers will find representative comments and debates concerning his thought during different periods. The work was compiled under the tenet of “authenticity, comprehensiveness, and meticulousness,” representing the highest standard in collecting and collating Xiong’s works.

Scholarly exchanges of studies of Xiong in the academic community have become more and more frequent. The most important events are the two symposia on Xiong. The first was the four day “Academic Symposium Commemorating the One Hundredth Anniversary of XIONG Shili’s Birthday,” held in Xiong’s hometown Huangzhou 黃州 in Hubei Province, sponsored by Beijing University, Wuhan University, and others in December 1985. More than one hundred scholars, as well as Xiong’s friends, students, and family members from China, the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the former Soviet Union were invited to attend the conference. All the participants reaffirmed their reverence for Xiong’s personal charm, his devotion to learning, and his outstanding contribution to modern Chinese philosophy. They commented highly on the world-wide significance of his efforts to merge Chinese, Western, and Indian philosophical thinking into one system to create a philosophical system of his own. Participants also specifically analyzed the cultural background from which his philosophy was produced, the sources on which he drew, and the historical significance of his philosophy. In addition, they focused upon the connotations and values of the characteristics, nature, emphases of his philosophy, and his dialectical thinking of “combining substance and function into one (ti yong bu er 體用不二).” The conference resulted in two proceedings:

In Memory of XIONG Shili 《回憶熊十力》 (LHSPCCHC) and Collected Papersof Learning in Treasured Garden: XIONG Shili’s Lifetime and His Learning《玄圃論學集——熊十力生平與學術》(Xiao and Guo 1990).

After an interval of sixteen years, the second conference on Xiong, “International Symposium on XIONG Shili and Traditional Chinese Culture” was held in Luojia 珞珈Villa Guest House of Wuhan University in September 2001, sponsored by its Center for the Study of Traditional Chinese Culture, School of Philosophy, and Hubei Educational Publishing House. The first day of the symposium witnessed the grand ceremony of the first release of The Complete Works of XIONG Shili. Over sixty scholars and experts from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and overseas attended the three day conference, with over forty papers presented. Compared with the previous one, this conference reflected a marked progress in methodologies used, areas explored, and theoretical depth reached in the study of Xiong. As noted by FANG Keli 方克立of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in his talk, the simultaneous holding of the symposium and publication of The Complete Works of XIONG Shili also signify that Wuhan has become the center for Xiong study, and that Xiong

study itself has entered a new stage in the 21st century. The symposium resulted in the conference proceeding entitled A Sequel to Learning in Treasured Garden : Proceedings of International Symposium on XIONG Shili and Traditional Chinese Culture《玄圃論學續集: 熊十力與中國傳統文化國際學術研討會論文集》(CSTCC).

In the meantime, a large number of monographs on XIONG Shili’s philosophy have appeared. Among them the following are of important scholarly value:

GUO Qiyong’s XIONG Shili and His Philosophy 《熊十力及其哲學》(Guo 1985) and its revised and expanded version, XIONG Shili and Traditional Chinese Culture 《熊十力與中國傳統文化》(Guo 1988); GUO’s A Study of XIONG Shili’s Thought 《熊十力思想研究》(Guo 1993); GUO’s A Scholar Between Heaven and Earth: Biography of XIONG Shili 《天地間一個讀書人: 熊十力傳》(Guo 1994); JING Haifeng’s 景海峰XIONG Shili 《熊十力》(Jing); ZHENG Jiadong’s 鄭家棟Ontology and Method: From XIONG Shili to MOU Zongshan《本體與方法: 從熊十力到牟宗三》(Zheng 1992); LIN Anwu’s 林安梧Being, Consciousness and Practice《存有、意識與實踐》(Lin); ZHANG Qingxiong’s 張慶熊XIONG Shili’s New Doctrine of Consciousness Only and Husserl’s Phenomenology 《熊十力的新唯識論與胡塞爾的現象學》(Q. Zhang); DING Weixiang’s 丁爲祥 An Intellectual Biography of XIONG Shili《熊十力學術思想評傳》(Ding). In the following, I shall introduce some of the key issues discussed in these as well as some other studies of Xiong’s philosophy.


II. Xiong’s Intellectual Resources and Background

Xiong’s profound intellectual system was unique, creative, and independent.

However, it is like water that has its fountain and like a tree branch that springs from its root. As GUO Qiyong points out, first, “Xiong’s ontological cosmology mainly derives from his efforts to develop what is useful and discard what is not useful in the Book of Changes 《易經》 and in WANG Chuanshan’s 王船山philosophy” (Guo 1985: 54); second, “his intuitionalism originates from Zen Buddhism, the School of Mind of LU Xiangshan 陸象山 and WANG Yangming 王陽明, with the latest source being Bergson and LIANG Shuming 梁漱溟” (Guo 1985: 102); and third, “the School of Consciousness only (wei shi xue 唯識學) has influenced the formation of his epistemology: The structure of cognition by the subject, the consciousness of the object, and relationship between mind and environment” (Guo 1985: 62). YANG Guorong 楊國榮 argues that Xiong extends and illuminates WANG Yangming’s idea of “mind and object forming one body (xin wu yiti 心物一體)” and his theory of consciousness only is in many ways influenced by WANG Yangming’s thinking, the manifestation of which lies in particular in Xiong’s theory of “oneness of substance and function (ti yong bu er 體用不二)” and “transformation through closing and opening (he bi cheng bian 翕辟成變).” At the same time, Yang also points out that there are some differences between Xiong’s “oneness of substance and function” and WANG’s “mind and object forming one body.” By relating “oneness of substance and function” and “transformation through closing and opening” to evolution theory, Xiong brings together Wang’s school of mind and Bergson’s philosophy of life.

Yang’s conclusion is that “Xiong’s philosophy demonstrates that there would be no way out in theory if we proceeded from WANG Yangming’s ‘mind and object forming one body’ and talked about great transformation and self-movement” (Yang: 210, 211, 216). The Australia Scholar JIANG Yongming 薑允明 goes further to trace the intellectual source of Xiong’s philosophy to CHEN Baisha 陳白沙.

Jiang explores Chen’s philosophy of mind and its influence on Xiong’s philosophical formation (Jiang 1986a & 1986b).

The most distinctive characteristic of Xiong’s philosophical system is derived not only from Confucianism, but also from Buddhism. About its relationship to the latter, there have been several important debates in the past decades. Many of the articles involved in these debates are now collected in the first appendix volume of The Complete Works of XIONG Shili. Of them, the following three are particularly important: JIANG Chanteng’s 江燦騰 “Comments on the Correspondence between LÜ Cheng and XIONG Shili on Learning 呂澂與熊十力論學函稿評議” (425-493); GUO Qiyong’s “On XIONG Shili’s Buddhist Thinking: Differentiating between Confucian Mind and Buddhist Mind 論熊十力的佛學思想: 儒佛心性論辨析” (494-561); and WANG Shouchang’s 王守常 “The Conflicts between Confucianism and Buddhism in the 20th Century: The Debate between XIONG Shili and LIU Dingquan 二十世紀儒佛之爭: 熊十力與劉定權的爭論” (562-592).

As for the time and background that produced Xiong’s philosophy, GUO Qiyong and LI Minghua 李明華argue that:Xiong’s philosophy was the sublimation of the ideology of the ascending bourgeois class-consciousness. Although Xiong was living after the May Fourth Movement, his mind was still very much on the 1911 Revolution (xinhei geming 辛亥革命). He shut himself in the study and buried his head in the East-West philosophies for the purpose of racking his brains out to work out a theory (a makeup lesson) for the 1911 Revolution. (Guo and Li: 18-23)1

SHIMADA Kenji regards Xiong’s philosophy as part of the May Fourth Movement.

Proceeding from the macro panorama between the New Culture Movement of the May Fourth and the emergence of contemporary new Confucianism, SHIMADA Kenji points out that the May Fourth Movement itself logically contains the orientation of reevaluation of the tradition. The unfolding of this orientation signaled the emergence of contemporary new Confucianism. Therefore, as an important representative of New Confucianism, Xiong and his philosophy should be regarded as part of the legacy of the May Fourth Movement (Shimada: 6-8). CHEN Wanxiong 陳萬雄 also claims that there is an internal link between the May Fourth Movement and the 1911 Revolution. The representatives of the Enlightenment School (qimeng pai 啓蒙派) and the Culture Conservative School (wenhua baoshou pai 文化保守派) were originally also members of the 1911 Revolution.

The ideas of both schools belonged to the constituents of the 1911 Revolution (see Chen). However, TU Weiming 杜維明 considers Xiong as a member after the May Fourth Movement, arguing that Xiong’s thought is self-reflexive of the crisis of the post-May Fourth Movement thinking (see Tu 1985).


III. Ontological Cosmology and the Relationship between Substance and Function

Xiong’s most important achievement is his integration of cosmology and ontology, reestablishing an ontological cosmology, one of the important characteristics of Chinese philosophy. Scholars at home and abroad have attached great importance to this aspect. LI Zehou 李澤厚 argues that the most crucial part of Xiong’s philosophy lies in his reinvigorating traditional Confucian philosophy, especially the School of Principle (li ) and the school of mind (by LU Xiangshan and WANG Yangming) in Song and Ming Dynasties and supplying “inner sageliness (neisheng 內聖)” and “the joy of Confucius and YAN Hui’s (kong yan le chu 孔顔樂處)” with new ontological evidences. In other words, Xiong transforms neo-Confucian ethics and view of life into cosmology and ontology. (Li: 266-267) 1 This view was also discussed by Japanese scholar SHIMADA Kenji 島田虔次 (Shimade) and Chinese scholar LI Zehou 李澤厚 (Li: 263-264).

GUO Qiyong argues that Xiong was one of the few representative modern scholars who inherited the legacy of traditional Confucian cosmology. In his view, “as a member of first generation of contemporary new Confucian scholars, Xiong was interested in constructing metaphysics and his ontological cosmology (jing lun 境論) lays a foundation for contemporary New Confucian Movement. Xiong’s ontological cosmology is his ontology and cosmology” (2002: 341). What is distinctive of Xiong is that he does not talk about substance without talking about cosmology and vice versa. According to Xiong, the so-called “substance (ti )” is the body of the cosmos in constant production and destruction; the so-called “cosmos (yuzhou 宇宙)” is the emergence of function (yong ) based on substance. Substance is the highest category of Xiong’s philosophy, whose central part is ontology. In Guo’s view, “Xiong’s whole task, to put it simply, is to reconstruct ontology, human moral self, and the subjectivity of Chinese culture at a time of the collapse of traditional value facing the impact of Western learning” (Guo 1993: 30). Guo further argues that, generally speaking, Xiong’s substance is neither pure natural body; nor pure spiritual body.

It is the body of human life, the moral subject. It is the common foundation of all human beings and other creatures, as well as the sky and earth. It is the fountain source of all values. Xiong’s ontology cannot be torn away from cosmology and life view. It cannot be separated from the person and benevolence (substance) and its deployment: the myriad of things and human cultural activities (function). (Guo 1993: 52) Xiong regards the “internal mind (ben xin 本心)” as the source of the cosmos and as the true nature of human beings, which is also a dynamic and creative body. Xiong’s ontology is the ontology of humanness (ren ) that contains the dynamic, value-focused, and both immanent and transcendental life-spirit (Guo 2002: 341). Guo further points out that Xiong himself claims that if we can understand thoroughly about the question of substance and function, all the important issues concerning cosmology and life will suddenly become clear. The particularity of Chinese philosophy lies in taking the existence as substance and function as its function/use. Ti (substance) is both the noumenon and the subject, while yong (function) is both the phenomenon and use. (1993: 56)

JING Haifeng pays attention to the personal experiences embodied in Xiong’s ontological thought. In his view, “life supported by faith is essential for Xiong in constructing his philosophical ontology. It is from this perspective that we can clearly understand the emergence of Xiong’s philosophical ideas” (Jing: 25). It is right under the stimulation of realizing truth through personal experiences and internal feelings that Xiong defines his ontology as “metaphysical ontology (xuanxue debentilun 玄學的本體論)” and uses it in the synergy of the cosmology, philosophy of life, epistemology, and all other philosophical branches (see Jing: 27, 30-31). Jin further points out that the characteristics of Xiong’s ontology is the integration between heaven and human in ontology and the combination of mind and object in cosmology. This allows the spirit of Chinese philosophy to shine uniquely and makes it possible for the foundation of cosmological life to depart from earthly cares, thus revealing eternal truth. Western philosophy is by far short of this aspect. (1991: 23)

CHEN Lai 陳來 argues that Xiong shows a great concern for the relationship between cosmological ontology and the manifestations of the cosmos. According to Xiong, the relationship between substance and function (phenomenon) in the cosmos is one of the fundamental problems that defy any solution.However, we can see that Xiong’s theory of substance and function centers on the relationship between the substance of the cosmos (yuzhou zhenti 宇宙實體)and its myriad manifestations (yuzhou wanxian 宇宙萬象) (Chen: 130).ZHENG Jiadong holds that XIONG Shili 熊十力 uses an old category in Chinese philosophy to construct the “Meridian Line (jing xian 經線)” of his philosophical system, emphasizing the “neither similar nor different (bu yi bu yi 不一不異)” relationship between noumenon and phenomenon, substance and function. According to Xiong, to emphasize strongly the principle of “oneness of substance and function” will highlight the basic characteristics of Confucianism, with its strength and advantages. Also, by strongly advocating this principle of “oneness of substance and function,” Xiong wants to show that it is significantly different from both Western philosophy and Buddhism. In relation to Western philosophy, Xiong emphasizes that, as soon as substance is talked about, the function is already there (ji ti er yan yong zai ti 即體而言用在體); in relation to Buddhism, Xiong emphasizes that, as soon as function is talked about, the substance is already there (ji yong er yan ti zai yong 即用而言體在用). (Zheng 1992: 36-37)

On this same issue of substance and function, YAN Binggang 顔炳罡 points out that, in Xiong’s view, substance and function are relative. There is no function without substance and vice versa. Substance is the great function of manifestations embodying it. It is the substance of function and cannot exist independently of function. As substance is related to function, it is the substance of function. We cannot separate function to seek substance.

Function does not exist without substance. The essence of Xiong’s philosophy is that function reveals substance and substance shows the function. Substance and function are both separable and inseparable. (Yan: 217-8)

From “substance and function as from one source (ti yong yu yuan 體用一源)” and “no gap between the manifest and the obscure (xian wei wu jian 顯微無間)” in traditional Chinese philosophy to Xiong’s “oneness of substance and function,” we can see that Chinese philosophy is vividly portrayed. In this sense we can also avoid cutting substance and function into two. DING Weixiang’s 丁爲祥 view on this issue is that, “in Xiong’s philosophy, substance and function are not a pair of concepts externally listed. They are the essence and tenor of Xiong’s whole philosophical exploration, which starts from revealing the substance and ends up explaining the substance and function of all things in cosmos” (Ding: 76). Ding also points out that although the idea of substance and function belongs to Confucian tradition, Xiong’s view of the relationship between them cannot be simplistically attributed to his inheritance from the Confucian intellectual tradition. It also contains the critique and inheritance of Buddhist thought. It is because of its absorption and criticism of Buddhist ideas that Xiong’s view of the relationship between substance and function bears an obvious modern concern. (Ding: 76-77)

HUANG Kejian 黃克劍 tries to illuminate the cosmological implication of the oneness of substance and function, of Heaven and human, and of Dao and object (qi ) in Xiong’s philosophical system. He considers that the major interest of Xiong’s philosophy is in the principle of things. By distinguishing the original mind (ben xin 本心) from the cultivated mind (xi xin 習心), and the natural wisdom (xing zhi 性智) from gained knowledge (liang zhi 量智), Xiong is trying to point out a way of life that “recognizes the body of humaneness (ren ti 仁體)” so as to guide common people toward the road to sagehood. (Huang 2000: 58-59) LIN Anwu 林安梧 is of the opinion that we should proceed from the horizon of the relationships between being, consciousness, and practice to interpret and construct Xiong’s philosophy of substance and function. He argues that Xiong’s philosophy of substance and function is a kind of phenomenology-like ontology. Therefore, “as a school of cultivating the mind and rectifying oneself (si xiu jiao jin zhi xue 思修交盡之學),” Xiong’s philosophy is the one focusing on personal experience of existence or the encountering of being that ends up in Dao. More specifically, Lin examines Xiong’s philosophy from the perspective of WANG Chuanshan’s “simultaneous building of heaven and earth (qiankun bingjian 乾坤並建)” and “two extremes unified into one (liang duan er yizhi 兩端而一致)” and MOU Zongsan’s 牟宗三 logical discourse of “two layers of being (existence) (liang ceng cunyou lun 兩層存有論).” He proposes that we may trace Mou’s philosophy to that of Xiong and Xiong’s to that of WANG Chuanshan. He argues that Wang’s philosophy can be regarded as the source of inspiration for contemporary new Confucianism (Lin 2003 in CSTCC: 270-280).


IV. The Relationship between Jinglun 境論 (Cosmology) and Lianglun 量論 (Epistemology)

Xiong’s distinction between jinglun (cosmology) and lianglun (epistemology) shows his painstaking efforts to distinguish between ontological cosmology and epistemological-methodology and between philosophy and science. Until his late years, Xiong kept reminding himself that he should not start writing on epistemology or the theory of knowledge. Later he regretted that. On this issue, scholars hold diverse views. LOU Yulie 樓宇烈 thinks that although Xiong did not write a book on the theory of knowledge, he had all the details in his mind.

If we examine Xiong’s New Discourse 《新論》, Key Sayings of XIONG Shili 《語要》, and the outlines he provided for writing his theory of knowledge in the preface of Yuan Ru《原儒》(An Inquiry on Confucianism), we shall see that all the major contents of Xiong’s theory of knowledge have been discussed. The only problem is that they are not arranged in a logical order. However, even though Xiong could write a book on the theory of knowledge in a more logical, explicit, and detailed manner, there would be nothing new about his basic theoretical framework. In other words, Xiong’s theory of cosmology already contained the gist of his theory of knowledge. Thus, the true reason that Xiong failed to complete an independent book on the theory of knowledge is not that, as he said, he was “tired and exhausted,” but that his philosophical approach is closely related to his basic theory of ontology (Lou: 151).

On this issue, GUO Qiyong holds a similar view. In his view, “Xiong’s epistemology has already been included in his ontology and has been merged as one in ontology. Therefore, ten years after the publication of his Cosmology (Jinglun 《境論》), he did not write a separate book on the theory of knowledge (Lianglun 量論)” (Guo 1985: 151). In his Ph.D. dissertation, Guo devoted a special chapter to the discussion of Xiong’s theory of knowledge, indicating that the foundation of Xiong’s ontological method concerns the relationships between nature (xingzhi 性智) and cosmos (liang zhi 量智) and between scientific truth and metaphysical truth. Inheriting the Song Neo-Confucian tradition and absorbing elements from Western philosophy and Buddhism, Xiong made an intensive study of the relationships between personal experience and meditation and between substance and manifestation as the extension of his ontology. In Guo’s view, Xiong does not look down upon epistemology, reason, and meditation, but his main emphasis is on the importance of moral experience and ontological intuition, touching only the boundary of epistemology. So, Guo meticulously analyzes the outline of Xiong’s theory of cosmology, focusing on his ideas of “yi xin er men 一心二門 (one mind opens two doors),” “xing xiu bu er 性修不二 (nature and cultivation are one),” and “si xiu jiao jin 思修交盡 (meditation and cultivation alternate between each other)” (Guo 1993: 103-150).

HU Jun 胡軍 holds a different view on this issue. He argues that Xiong’s philosophy aims to delineate a distinctive boundary between science (for pursuit of knowledge) and philosophy. That amounts to saying that ontology lies within the boundary of philosophy, while epistemology lies outside it. Xiong has thus actually misunderstood the epistemological tradition of Western philosophy.

Because of this, Xiong fails to develop an epistemology, despite some sparse speculations, and thinks too highly of the role of “nature” in his ontology.

Xiong emphasized the role of intuitive experience, testimony of experience, and self-knowledge in the process of self-seeking, which resulted in his inability to complete a theory of knowledge. Thus, Hu concludes that “the fundamental reason for Xiong’s failure to establish a theory of knowledge is his personal philosophical view that ‘philosophy is about ontology. Epistemology does not belong to philosophy.’ Therefore, Xiong would not be regretful for all his life about being unable to write on a theory of knowledge” (J. Hu: 76-83).

HU Weixi 胡偉希 contrasts Xiong and Kant on the relation between knowledge and wisdom. He points out that Kant’s limitation of epistemology to phenomenon makes it impossible to seek solutions to moral issues through knowledge.

However, “Xiong once again brought up the issue of knowledge and wisdom for discussion and treated it as a central topic for his philosophical speculation.

In this sense, it is Xiong rather than Kant that becomes the authentic inheritor of the ancient Greek conception of ‘virtue as knowledge” (W. Hu: 68-75).

Although Xiong admits that knowledge is not identical to wisdom as knowledge has yet to be transformed into wisdom, he does not deny the role of knowledge as a means to wisdom and he emphasizes the relationship between the two. Under the premise of the oneness of substance and function, Xiong affirms the significance of “turning knowledge into wisdom (zhuan shi cheng zhi 轉識成智)” and “turning wisdom into knowledge (zhuan shi cheng zhi 轉智成識)” as his philosophy of life. This is where Xiong subverts the Western ontological ideas based on duality. With an ontological understanding of the oneness of substance and function, Xiong blazed a new trail by disentangling himself from the problem of “turning knowledge into wisdom.” However, as for further pursuit in philosophical metaphysics, Xiong’s idea of “turning knowledge into wisdom” has yet to be supplemented and developed, for he failed to systematically unfold philosophical metaphysics. Thus, Xiong’s philosophy, to a great extent, leaves people with an impression of being autocratic. Ultimately, he was unable to meet the challenge of Western skepticism based on the premise of duality (W. Hu: 68-75).

CHENG Zhongying 成中英 notices the possibility of accommodation between Xiong’s ontological cosmology and modern Western philosophical epistemology.

In On Substance and Function 《體用論》, Treatise on Brightening the Mind 《明心篇》, and The Evolution of Heaven and Earth 《乾坤衍》, Xiong provides a substantial cosmological ontology and moral metaphysics of human existence on the one hand, and offers a thinking model of developing, multi-tier creations on the other. Both have played their roles in facilitating the development of modern Western philosophical epistemology. At the same time, the ideas of “oneness of substance and function,” “transformation through closing and opening,” “simultaneous building of heaven and earth,” and “mind and object as from one source (xinwu tongyuan 心物同源)” in Xiong’s ontological cosmology need to be integrated with the content and form of epistemology, first transforming cognition into knowledge and then turning knowledge into wisdom. In other words, the epistemological approach of Western philosophy may promote Xiong’s ontological cosmology to be combined with epistemology so as to upgrade epistemology to the level of ontology or that of ontological epistemology.

The logical extension of Xiong’s ontological proposition insists that nature and cosmos supplement and promote each other; cosmology and the theory of knowledge reciprocate each other. The great challenge facing Xiong’s philosophy is to expound these complicated relationships (Cheng 2003: 36-47).


V. The Later Xiong’s Thought

Xiong’s thought can be conveniently divided into two periods, with the year 1949 as the dividing line. How to understand and evaluate Xiong’s later philosophy has been a hot topic for debate in the philosophical community. ZHAI Zhicheng 翟志成 argues that, after 1949, there is a fundamental change for Xiong’s thinking in terms of both the learning of “inner sageliness (nei sheng 內聖)” and that of “outer kingliness (wai wang 外王).” In his late years, Xiong published nine books.

In Zhai’s view, every new publication by Xiong at this stage can be described as a kind of “negative accumulation,” marked by a kind of “retrogression” and “corruption” in his academic and spiritual life (Zhai: 76-78). LIU Shuxian 劉述先 shares the view that a change took place in Xiong’s later stage of thinking. From this angle, the true meaning of Xiong’s thought can not be found only in the works produced in his later years. In Liu’s view, however, the metamorphosis comes about more in respect to “outer kingliness.” As for “inner sageliness,” there is a spiritual consistency and coherence between his early and later years.

Moreover, even though there is a change in his view on the “outer kingliness,” it is not that Xiong went along with the political authority and ideology, as implied in Zhai’s phrase “to answer the call of the emperor (ying di wang 應帝王).” On the contrary, it is right through the adjustment of “outer kingliness 外王” that Xiong corrected some improper thinking in ideology at that time. Therefore, Liu criticizes some of Zhai’s biased views (Liu 1993).

GUO Qiyong does not agree with Zhai’s view. Guo argues that Xiong’s basic views before and after 1949 are consistent, with some of the earlier views developed further later. He denies what Zhai describes as “negative accumulation,” “retrogression of his academic standard,” or “corruption in his spiritual life.” For instance, although the metaphysical idea of “sheng sheng quan yuan xing hai 生生乾元性海” (production and reproduction as the dynamic origin of yang in the sea of nature) was mentioned in Xiong’s works before 1949, Xiong provided a more thorough illumination on this proposition after 1949 in his later works such as An Inquiry on Confucianism 《原儒》 and The Evolution of Heaven and Earth 《乾坤衍》. Another instance is that, in his later work, A Treatise on Brightening the Mind 《明心篇》, Xiong further expounded the chapter on brightening the mind from his earlier work, New Doctrine of Consciousness Only 《新唯識論》. Although based on his original principle and theory, the latter is a great leap forward. Guo does not entirely agree with LIU Shuxian’s evaluation of Xiong’s view on “outer kingliness 外王” after the year 1949. According to Liu, Xiong’s view on outer kingliness in Essential Guide for Reading Confucian Classics 《讀經示要》 and other works has a direct relationship with An Inquiry on Confucianism《原儒》(1956). Guo, however, argues that, after 1949, some changes really took place in Xiong’s thought, which were embodied in his efforts to “emphasize the function (zhong yong 重用),” “manifest the existence (ming you 明有),” absorbing some of the scientific knowledge. On the whole, Xiong’s thought in the later stage does not depart from the general framework of substance and function as one and mind and nature as the kernel of his philosophy (see Guo 1994 and 1994b).


VI. Overall Evaluation of Xiong’s Thought

Scholars hold different views on the overall evaluations of Xiong’s philosophy.

TU Weiming argues that, as a cultural conservative, Xiong was interested in carrying on and developing the identity of Chinese cultural spirit for the purpose of keeping the identity of the national culture. Xiong’s cultural conservatism itself contains ethical and religious implications, transcending narrow-minded nationalism, and thus is of great value for people exploring the value system in today’s world (Tu 1990: 191-196). LI Zehou thinks that, whether observed from the background from which his ideas arose or from the logical line of contemporary New Confucianism, Xiong and his philosophy should be deemed as one of the forerunners of New Confucianism (Li: 263). After providing an ideal definition for contemporary New Confucianism, CHENG Zhongying points out that Xiong can be regarded as the most creative and accomplished philosopher among contemporary New Confucians, for he created a profound and powerful ontological and methodological model for modern Chinese philosophy, which has thus exerted a great impact on those scholars who are advocating Confucian philosophy today (Cheng 1990: 172-190).

GUO Qiyong identifies Xiong as one of the most original philosophical thinkers in 20th century China and the philosophical founder of the contemporary New Confucian Movement in the wake of the May Fourth Movement. Guo claims that, 2 The Japanese scholar SHIMADA Kenji is also of the opinion that Xiong’s thought before and after 1949 should be regarded as one unified whole and that the completion of An Inquiry on Confucianism should be looked as a landmark of his later works, because it has comprehensively described the foundation of his philosophy (see Shimada: 83).

 “to put it simply, all that Xiong has done is to respond to the challenges posed by Western learning in order to reestablish Confucian ontology, moral self, and the subjectivity of Chinese culture during a time of decline in Confucian value system” (Guo 1993: 30). Guo further argues that Xiong’s metaphysical constructions, especially his speculation on the ultimate being and creativity of moral metaphysics, have been realized in MOU Zongshan’s theory; his notion of the oneness of substance and function and his idea of moral self leading to cultural construction have been fully developed in TANG Junyi’s 唐君毅works; and his historical and cultural consciousness have been expounded in XU Fuguan’s 徐復觀 writings.

LIU Shuxian argues that Xiong’s observation of sheng sheng quan yuan xing hai (production and reproduction as the dynamic origin of yang in the sea of nature) is unique, and has become the fountain source of contemporary New Confucianism. It is this idea that provides inspiration and revelation for his followers such as TANG Junyi, MOU Zongshan, and XU Fuguan. Liu further brings to light some of the insights that can not be surpassed by ensuing generations of contemporary New Confucians: Xiong’s view of conscience as manifestation and not a supposition, his idea and personal experience with sheng sheng quan yuan xing hai as his creative interpretation of the Book of Changes《大易》 which constitutes the fundamental idea of his philosophy, and his view of knowledge as the manifestation of function by nature, and of substance and function as based on the paradigm of “closing” and “opening”.



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LIU Junping劉軍平, Professor of English, Fulbright Scholar, Yale University; email: junping.liu@yale.edu . QIN Ping秦平, Ph.D. candidate in philosophy, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China; email: qinping009@hotmail.com.

原文载 Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy December 2005, Vol. V, No. 1, pp. 159-172. © 2005 by Global Scholarly Publications. All rights reserved. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy V. 1

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