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Rationalistic School

Doctrines The Rationalistic School of Neo-Confucianism (Li Hsueh or the Learning of Principle) is founded on the concept of li as the fundamental principle governing the universe, human society and the individual. As such, li is identified with the Way ( Tao) and the Supreme Ultimate (Tai Ch'i) and, as the universal principle of organisation, gives form to matter-energy (ch'i).
Like everything else, human beings are composed of li and ch'i. The li of humanity constitutes humanity's nature which is good, while the ch'i constitutes human body and emotions which may be good or evil. The li of humanity is bound to ch'i, which can be impure and produces selfish desire, so that the li can become obscured. The principle can be understood analogously through comparing the li of humanity to a pearl which is hidden in muddy water: it is the duty of people to cultivate their true nature through the control of selfish desires and through attaining self-understanding. The ideal of the School is to attain to sagehood, which must be achieved through the investigation of the principles of things and affairs, one by one, day by day, until one has exhausted all things and beings in the universe.

History The Rationalistic School traces its origin to the first generation of Neo-Confucianists in the Sung dynasty, especially to the teachings and writings of Chou Tun-yi (1017~1073) and Chang Tsai (1020-1085), while Cheng Yi (1033-1108) is commonly con sidered its forerunner, and Chu Hsi (1130-1200) the one who epitomised its doctrines. The central place of Cheng Yi and Chu Hsi in the school has meant that is also called the School of Cheng-Chu.
Shortly after the death of Chu Hsi, this school became identified with Confucian orthodoxy, and Chu Hsi himself came to be regarded as representing the new line of transmission of the Confucianist heritage. The Four Books, annotated and commented by Chu Hsi, were taken as the orthodox text books for national civil service examinations from 1313 to 1905.
The doctrines of the school were introduced to Korea, Vietnam and Japan, and became the Orthodox version of Confucianism in these countries until the beginning of the twentieth century.
However, in the late Ching dynasty, the Rationalistic School came to be fiercely criticised by the Confucian scholars; its doctrine of principle was denounced as conservative and branded as cruel ritualism, promoting empty speech and being without practical value. As the orthodox ideology of the state, the Rationalistic School was blamed for the weakness of China as a nation and country. With the overthrow of the Ching dynasty, the school lost its position as the dominant ideology of the state. Its influence and legacy have not been significant in modern times, although its doctrines have partly been accepted by modern Confucianists such as Fung Yu-lan and Wing-tsit Chan.

Symbols The Rationalistic School does not have a distinctive symbol system.

Adherents It is not possible to determine the numerical size of the Rationalistic School.

Main Centre
 The Rationalistic School does not have a headquarters or main centre.