Zhongyong


Zhongyong
or Chung yung or Doctrine of the Mean

One of four ancient Confucian texts known as the Four Books, published together in 1190 by Zhu Xi.

Its metaphysics had interested Buddhists and earlier Neo-Confucianists. Zhu Xi attributes the work to Confucius' grandson Zi Si, though it was actually part of Liji ("Book of Rites"), one of the Five Classics. Zhongyong expresses an ideal of moderation, rectitude, and lack of prejudice that should encompass virtually every relationship and activity in life.

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▪ Confucian text
Chinese“Centre” and “Unchangeable” or “Doctrine of the Mean”Wade-Giles romanization  Chung-yung 

      one of four Confucian texts that, when published together in 1190 by the Neo-Confucian philosopher Zhu Xi, became the famous Sishu (“Four Books”). Zhu chose Zhongyong for its metaphysical interest, which had already attracted the attention of Buddhists and earlier Neo-Confucianists. In his preface Zhu attributed authorship of the treatise (which was actually a chapter from Liji, one of the Five Classics of antiquity) to Zisi (Tzu Ssu) (Kong Ji), a grandson of Confucius.

      Zisi presented Zhongyong as the central theme of Confucian thought. The two Chinese characters zhongyong (often translated “doctrine of the mean”) express a Confucian ideal that is so broad and so all-embracing as to encompass virtually every relationship and every activity of human life. In practice, zhongyong means countless things: moderation, rectitude, objectivity, sincerity, honesty, truthfulness, propriety, equilibrium, and lack of prejudice. For example, a friend should be neither too close nor too remote. Neither in grief nor in joy should one be excessive, for unregulated happiness can be as harmful as uncontrolled sorrow. Ideally, one must adhere unswervingly to the mean, or centre course, at all times and in every situation. Such behaviour conforms to the laws of nature, is the distinctive mark of the superior individual, and is the essence of true orthodoxy.

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Universalium. 2010.

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