Lessons from Zhu Xi’s Views on Inquiry and Learning for Contemporary Advanced Humanities Education and Research





Zhu Xi, the humanities, advanced research, self-consciousness, moral perspective


We are bearing witness to the rapid rise of a brave new world of education as flashy websites and interactive software replace individual study and classroom lectures. The expansion of college lecture halls has been stretched thin with video lessons and distance learning, and the siren call of massive open online courses (MOOCs) by star Ivy League professors renders the traditional classroom barren in the eyes of savvy students who have the system pegged.

Several questions arise in this context. Can the students of today receive a college education in the full sense? Does learning still have the same quality without close interactions with teachers and classmates in small to medium sized classrooms? Does research hold the same significance today when much of the work is done and so much information supplied by computers? What lessons do Zhu Xi’s teachings on inquiry and learning have for this educational world of e-texts and cyber-lessons? While not a Luddite tract, the present study raises questions and concerns about the goals and conduct of higher education today which, as Heisenberg avers, should not only aim at transmitting knowledge understood in set ways, but also at inculcating new ways of thinking and understanding.

A college education, as Zhu Xi holds for “advanced learning”, is as much about cultivating a thoughtful, responsible person as producing a professional expert. Such education should include cultivating a student’s sensitivity, logic, and judgment, as well as knowledge about humanity, society, and the world. It is often forgotten that such sensitivity, logic, knowledge, and commitment not only make the student more thoughtful and responsible, in short more self-conscious, but also give her additional perspectives and enhance her professional expertise.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

  • Kirill Ole THOMPSON, National Taiwan University

    Foreign LAnguages and Lits, Professor

    Inst for Adv Studies in Humanities and Sco Sci, Associate Dean


Ames, Roger, and Henry Rosemont. 1998. The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. New York: Ballantine Books.
Ames, Roger, and David Hall. 2003. Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation: “Making This Life Significant”. New York: Ballantine Books.
Austin, James. 2003. Chase, Chance, and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Chan, Wing-tsit, comp. and trans. 1963. A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Flynn, Thomas R. 2014. Sartre: A Philosophical Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Guthrie. W.K.C., trans. 1956. Plato: Protagoras and Meno. London: Penguine Books.
Hall, David, and Roger Ames. 1987. Thinking Through Confucius. Albany: SUNY Press.
Hawkins, Jeff. 2004. On Intelligence. New York: Holt, and Owl Book.
Kim, Yung-sik. 2000. The Natural Philosophy of Chu Hsi (1130–1200). Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.
Kleinbaum, N.H. 1989. Deat Poets Society. New York: Hyperion Books.
Lau, D.C., trans. 1970. Mencius. London: Penguin Books. Nussbaum, Martha. 1998. Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Polanyi, Michael. (1966), 2009. The Tacit Dimension. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Qian, Mu. 1991. Zhuzi xin-xue’an. Taipei: Dongda. Ryle, Gilbert. 1949. The Concept of Mind. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Thompson, Kirill. 2016. “Daoism, Zen, Time Awareness, and the Reality of Time.” Presented at the “UBIAS Intercontinental Academia on Time, Nagoya Workshop,” March 6–18, 2016.
–––. 2013. “Agrarianism and the Ethics of Eating.” In Encyclopedia of Food and Agriculture Ethics, edited by Paul B. Thompson and David M. Kaplan, 29–38. Dordrecht: Springer.
–––. 2012a. “Traditional Knowledge – China.” The Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability: China, India, and East and Southeast Asia: Assessing Sustainability, vol 7. Great Barrington: Berkshire.
–––. 2012b. “Agricultural Ethics in East Asian Perspective: Some Issues.” Paper presented at an “International Conference on Agricultural Ethics in East Asian Perspective,” held in Taipei, Taiwan on March 1, 2012.
–––. 2002. “Review of The Natural Philosophy of Chu Hsi 1130-1200, by Yung Sik Kim.” (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2000). In China Review International 9 (1), Spring: 165–80.
Wade, David, 2004. Li: Dynamic Form in Nature. New York: Walker and Co.
Watson, Burton. 1968. The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu. New York: Columbia University Press.
Zhu Xi. 1977. Zhuzi quanshu. Edited by Li Guandi Rpt. Taipei: Guangxue.
–––.1986. Zhuzi yulei. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.
–––. Rpt. 2002. Zhu wengong wenji (1532). Collected in Zhu, J., edited by Z. Yan, and Y. Lu
–––. Rpt. 2002. Zhuzi quanshu (1714), vols. 20–25. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe.



30. 06. 2017



Contemporary Implications

How to Cite

THOMPSON, Kirill Ole. 2017. “Lessons from Zhu Xi’s Views on Inquiry and Learning for Contemporary Advanced Humanities Education and Research”. Asian Studies 5 (2): 11-42. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2017.5.2.11-42.

Similar Articles

1-10 of 192

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.