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PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS OF WANG CHUNG.
TRANSLATED FROM THE CHINESE AND ANNOTATED
PROFESSOR OF CHINESE AT THE SEMINAR FUR ORIENTALISCHE SPRACHEN, BERLIN
E. Critique (philosophical, literary and historical).
On the two principal philosophical Chinese systems, Confucianism and Taoism we are tolerably well informed by translations of the leading works and by systematical treatises. These two branches may be regarded as the most important, but it would be impossible to write a history of Chinese philosophy without paying special attention to the various heterodox philosophers, whose views do not agree with the current ideas of either Confucianists or Taoists. For that very reason they are often more interesting than the latter, being original thinkers, who disdain to resign themselves to merely iterating old stereotyped formula. Many of their tenets remind us of similar arguments propounded by various philosophical schools of the West. I have called attention to the Epicurean Yang Chu and to the Chinese Sophists (vid. Journ. of Peking Orient. Soc., vol. III, p. 203 and Journ. of China Branch of Royal Asiat. Soc., vol. XXXIV, p. 1) and now beg to place before the public a translation of the philosophical essays of Wang Ch ung, whom we may well call a Materialist. As a first instalment I published, some years ago, a paper treating of Wang Chung's ideas on Death and Immortality (Journ. of China Branch of Royal Asiat. Soc., vol. XXXI, p. 40). My lecture on the Metaphysics of Wang Chi ung, held in 1899 before the East Asiatic Section of the Congress of Orientalists at Rome, has not been printed, the manuscript having been lost by the secretaries of the Section.
Although he has much in common with the Confucianists and still more with the Taoists, Wang Chung's philosophy does not lack originality. He is an Eclectic, and takes his materials from wherever it suits him, but he has worked it into an elaborate, system such as did not exist before Chu Hsi. Like a true philosopher he has reduced the multiplicity of things to some few fundamental principles, by which he explains every phenomenon. One or two leading ideas pervade his philosophy as “Leitmotives." Lun - Heng.