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Neo-Confucian Self-Cultivation$
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Barry C. Keenan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834968

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834968.001.0001

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The First Five Steps of Personal Cultivation

The First Five Steps of Personal Cultivation

(p.37) Chapter 3 The First Five Steps of Personal Cultivation
Neo-Confucian Self-Cultivation

Barry C. Keenan

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter follows the leading Neo-Confucian interpretations of the first five of the Confucian Eight Steps, which comprise the personal phase. It explores how these steps might apply to later historical periods, including the present—as one remarkable feature of the Great Learning, this volume’s primary source for the Eight Steps, is the fact that so many later Confucians felt it could connect any historical age to the lost or hidden insights of the ancient Confucian classics. Furthermore, the objective of the Eight Steps, as understood by Zhu Xi, was a program for self-cultivation that would allow each person to understand and access the inherent goodness within that person. Thus, drawing from insights made by Song-period Neo-Confucians, the chapter provides explanations of how each step works.

Keywords:   personal cultivation, self-cultivation, Confucian Eight Steps, Great Learning, ancient Confucian classics, Song-period, Neo-Confucians

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