Sources of Learning: Zhu Xi’s Theory of Moral Development Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Abstract As moral philosopher Zhu Xi (1130–1200) sought to nurture the autonomous moral self. In his pedagogical scheme, one ought to cultivate the innate goodness of the heart, investigate principles in things, and embody ethical standards in daily life. In Zhu Xi’s view, the ability to exercise moral autonomy is obtained through a long period of moral and ethical training under the close surveillance of one’s immediate surroundings since early childhood. For this reason, Zhu Xi emphasized the practice of social norms as well as the performance of mundane rituals as the preconditions for the development of the autonomous moral self. By combining the Lesser Learning (xiaoxue 小學) with the Great Learning (daxue 大學), Zhu Xi articulated an integrated vision of moral development from the heteronomous performing of ethical duties to the autonomous embodiment of moral principles.

publication date

  • September 6, 2021