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Learning from the past to guide the future

By Ma Zhenhuan | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-09 09:13
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Wang's statue greets visitors to his former home in Shaoxing. [Photo by He Wen/For China Daily]

Scholars are exploring and utilizing the legacy of one of China's leading neo-Confucian philosophers. Wang Yangming (1472-1529) developed the "Philosophy of Mind" that emphasizes understanding the world from within the mind. His famous doctrine of the "unity of knowing and acting" states that knowledge is the beginning of action, while action is the completion of knowledge. Wang, from Zhejiang province, advocated that knowledge and action should be combined, and that one can acquire knowledge through action.

The authorities of Shaoxing city, Zhejiang, where Wang spent most of his lifetime, have managed to use academic exchanges to promote Wang's philosophy while examining its practical influence on modern society.

In 2020, the city launched the Conference on Wang Yangming Mind Philosophy.

Over the past three years, the annual event has become a platform for scholars from around the world to share their views on the Philosophy of Mind.

"Wang's Philosophy of Mind has existed for more than 500 years," said Ding Wei, vice-chairman of the International Confucian Association, when addressing the opening ceremony of the 2023 Conference on Wang Yangming Mind Philosophy on Oct 31. "Despite rapid social development, our desire to improve ourselves, and to build a better future, remains constant. That's why we are still studying it."

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