Originally the Ta Hsüeh was a chapter of the Li-chi,
the "Book of Rites," one of the five Chinese classics.
Literary analysis suggests that it was written in the 3rd century
BCE. During the Song Dynasty (960-1280), the Ta Hsüeh
was considered sufficiently important to be singled out as one
of the canonical "Four Books." Since both the Five
Classics and the Four Books had to be memorized by Chinese
students aspiring for a position in the Chinese civil service,
the Ta-Hsüeh had to be studied twice.
How does the Ta Hsüeh emphasize the traditional
Confucian value of the importance of knowledge?
The expansion of knowledge lies in the investigation of things.
Once things are investigated, knowledge will be completed.
Once knowledge is complete, opinions will be verified.
Once opinions are verified, minds will be rectified.
Once minds are rectified, persons will be cultivated.
Once persons are cultivated, families will be harmonized.
Once families are harmonized, states will be put in order.
Once states are in order, there will be peace all under heaven.
From the emperor to the common people, all must see the cultivation
of their own person as the root of all else.
If roots are in disarray, there will never be healthy branches.
Translated by Lydia Gerber
(2) "Mind" (hsin) can also be translated as "heart." Classical Chinese does not differentiate between the rational and emotional aspects of a person the way western languages do.
(3) The Chinese term wu--translated as "things"--basically
means "all that is outside oneself." It is usually translated
either as "things" or "affairs".
This is an excerpt from Reading
About the World, Volume 1, edited by Paul Brians, Mary Gallwey, Douglas Hughes, Azfar Hussain, Richard Law, Michael Myers, Michael Neville, Roger Schlesinger, Alice Spitzer, and Susan Swan and published by Harcourt Brace Custom Books.
The reader was created for use in the World Civilization course at Washington State University, but material on this page may be used for educational purposes by permission of the editor-in-chief:
Department of English
Washington State University
This is just a sample of Reading About the World, Volume 1. This is just a sample of Reading About the World, Volume 1. If, after examining the table of contents of the complete volume, you are interested in considering it for use at your own campus, please contact Paul Brians.
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