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Huang Zongxi
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Huang Zongxi (1610-1695) was born in Yuyao County, Shaoxing Prefecture (currently Yuyao County of Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province).  Courtesy name Taichong, Alias Nanlei and a series of other names, Huang Zongxi styled himself Taichong and Debing, and scholars usually call him Mr. Lizhou. Known as the Father of Chinese Enlightenment, Huang was a Confucian classics expert, prominent historian, thinker, geographer, almanac expert and educator during the latter part of the Ming Dynasty and the early part the Qing Dynasty. He was named as one of the Three Greatest Thinkers of the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty along with Gu Yanwu, Fang Yizhi and Wang Fuzhi, one of the Five Great Qing scholars and the “Three Great Masters”, “Father of Enlightenment in China” and also one of “the Three Great Confucian Scholars in China” together with the other two being Li Yong in Shaanxi and Sun Qilong in Zhili (part of Beijing).

Huang Zongxi’s learning covered a wide range of fields, such as classics, history, astronomy, arithmetic, music and Buddhism and Taoism, among which it was the history that he made particularly remarkable achievement. In the process of writing the Mingshi (History of Ming) by officials of the Qing Dynasty, they frequently sought advice from Huang Zongxi when they encountered disputes. Witnessing the replacement of the Ming Dynasty with the Qing, Huang stated that a dynasty could collapse but the recording of the nation’s history couldn’t be stopped. He emphasized that fidelity to facts should be the principle which history recording must adhere to. In terms of other fields, Huang also formed his own unique understanding. About philosophy, he regarded qi (material force) as the stuff of all phenomena and thought that li (principle or pattern), serving as a guide for qi, could not exist without it; he meanwhile held that xin (mind) was the same as qi and it was xin that filled the heaven and earth. In terms of politics, Huang Zongxi criticized the system of feudal autocratic monarchy, and declared that the world should belong to the people, proposing that an emperor should be deposed if he caused damage to his people. He proposed to replace the imperial laws with the people’s laws. In addition, he proposed to take schools as the place for discussion of governmental affairs. Apart from his achievement in these aspects, Huang Zongxi also put forward his own insightful and valuable ideas for studying history, identifying the truth of historical events, and revising historical books by use of his great learning in ancient calendar, geography, mathematics and bibliography of book editions, which produced immense and far-reaching impact in the whole Qing Dynasty.

The writings by Huang Zongxi covered diverse subjects up to 50, including history, classics, geography, calendar, mathematics, and literature. Important among his 300 plus volumes of books are Mingru Xue’an (Cases in Ming Confucianism), Songyuan Xuean (Cases of Pedagogy in the Song and Yuan Dynasties), Mengzi Shishuo (My Teacher’s Teachings on the Mencius), Zangzhi Huowen (Issues on Funeral System), Poxie Lun (On Suppressing Evils), Sijiu Lu (Records on Thinking of the Past), Yixue Xiangshu Lun (On Yi-ology), Ming Wen Hai(Collected Works of Ming), Xing Chao Lu(A History of the South Ming Dynasty ), Jin Shui Jing(An Investigation of Watercourses), Da Tong Li Tui Fa(Datong Calendar), Simingshan Zhi(Chronicles of Siming Mountains), etc. Huang Zongxi also made collections of his works when he was alive. So many works were completed to voice his enlightenment ideas by his own thinking instead of learning from foreign ideas, an absolute miracle in Chinese history which earned him the title of the Father of Chinese Enlightenment.  

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