The Great Learning: One of the "Four Books" in Confucianism
The Great Learning
One of the "Four Books" in Confucianism
Translated by James Legg
The Great Learning was one of the "Four Books" in Confucianism. The Great Learning had come from a chapter in the Classic of Rites which formed one of the Five Classics. It consists of a short main text attributed to the teachings of Confucius and then ten commentary chapters accredited to one of Confucius' disciples, Zengzi. The ideals of the book were supposedly Confucius's; however the text was written after his death.
The "Four Books" were selected by the neo-Confucian Zhu Xi during the Song Dynasty as a foundational introduction to Confucianism and examinations for the state civil service in China came to follow his lead.
The text sets up a number of controversies that have underlain Chinese philosophy and political thinking. For example, one major controversy has been to define exactly the investigation of things. What things are to be investigated and how has been one of the crucial issues of Chinese philosophy.
One of the first steps to understanding The Great Learning is to understand how to "investigate things". This did not consist of scientific inquiry and experimentation, but introspection, building on what is already "known" of "principle". True introspection was supposed to allow the mind to become all knowing with regards to morality, relationships, civic duty and nature.
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