Neo-Confucian Self-Cultivation
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168pp. May 2011
Neo-Confucian Self-Cultivation
Author: Keenan, Barry C.;
Approximately fifteen hundred years after Confucius, his ideas reasserted themselves in the formulation of a sophisticated program of personal self-cultivation. Neo-Confucians argued that humans are endowed with empathy and goodness at birth, an assumption now confirmed by evolutionary biologists. By following the Great Learning—eight steps in the process of personal development—Neo-Confucians showed how this innate endowment could provide the foundation for living morally. Neo-Confucian students did not follow a single manual elaborating each step of the Great Learning; instead they were exposed to age-appropriate texts, commentaries, and anthologies of Neo-Confucian thinkers, which gradually made clear the sequential process of personal development and its connection to social order. Neo-Confucian Self-Cultivation opens up in accessible prose the content of the eight-step process for today’s reader as it examines the source of mainstream Neo-Confucian self-cultivation and its major crosscurrents from 1000 to 1900.

6 illus.
Dimensions of Asian Spirituality Series
Author: Keenan, Barry C.;
Barry C. Keenan is professor of history at Denison University and an associate in research at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University.
Read the introduction (PDF).
Editor’s Preface
Dynastic Periods in Chinese History
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction

Part I. Neo-Confucianism, 1000–1400
1: Song Dynasty Neo-Confucianism
2: Neo-Confucian Education
Part II. The Great Learning and the Eight Steps to Personal Cultivation
3: The First Five Steps of Personal Cultivation
4: The Three Steps of Social Development
Part III. Self-Cultivation Upgrades:
The Fifteenth Century through the Nineteenth Century
5: Reforms in Neo-Confucianism: The Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries
6: The Nineteenth-Century Synthesis in Confucian Learning

Legacies
Appendix: Chronology of Works and Thinkers with the Sequence for Reading the Four Books Indicated
Notes
Further Readings
Index



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