Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Stephen C. Angle
Neo-Confucianism refers to the broad-ranging revival of Confucianism that began in the eleventh century CE during the Song dynasty (960–1278) and continued until at least the early Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Neo-Confucians were critical of the influence of Buddhism and Taoism on their society, and yet they drew on Buddhist and Taoist ideas to articulate their distinctive interpretation of Confucianism. Neo-Confucianism is perhaps most famous for its metaphysical doctrines, but it also represents important and influential developments in political philosophy that dominated Chinese theorizing about politics for close to a millennium. It was during the Song dynasty that the Chinese civil service examination system attained its mature form, underpinning a literati culture whose core texts emphasized the responsibilities of the elite to their own moral cultivation and, as a result, to the well-being of “all under heaven.” These dual responsibilities were often articulated in terms of the ideal of “inner sageliness ...