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Abstract

This article provides an overview of controversies in the history of Chinese philosophy concerning the diversity of meanings of the term Li inline image, as well as the comparative issues raised in various attempts by modern Chinese and Western interpreters to come to terms with this diversity of meanings. Revisiting the earliest pre-philosophical uses of the term, an attempt is then made to synthesize the insights of previous interpreters and open up a new path for investigating its distinctive implications in classical Chinese thought, Chinese Buddhism, and Neo-Confucianism.