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Mao Qiling's Critical Reflections on the Four Books


  • Lauren F. Pfister

    Corresponding author
    1. Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China
    • LAUREN F. PFISTER, Professor, Religion and Philosophy Department, Director, Centre for Sino-Christian Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University; Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities; Associate Editor, Journal of Chinese Philosophy. Specialties: Qing Dynasty philosophy, Ruist-Christian dialogue, hermeneutics. E-mail:

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After introducing some scholarship on the value of Mao Qiling's (1623–1713) works, we present an account of canonization processes in order to understand the hermeneutic context of Mao's battle with the Cheng-Zhu orthodoxy. His work is an attempt to decanonizing Zhu Xi's Four Books, preferring instead an alternative relying on the Old Texts of the Taixue《太學》/Daxue《大學》 and Zhongyong 《中庸》. Mao argues against Zhu Xi's textual changes and interpretations on a number of bases, producing a hermeneutics of suspicion against the Cheng-Zhu orthodoxy. Instead, Mao offers an alternative account of the sagely way, following precedents of Wang Yangming.