Confucianism predominates as a world view system in many Asian countries. Various factors such as growing social mobility, economic dynamism, commercialization, and the appearance of opposition that was formed from the outside caused and influenced Neo-Confucian renovation. The process has two main time periods: the first one was from 600 A.D. till 1700 A.D., and the second one lasted from 1900 till 2000. The society responded to new challenges by modifying political economy, renewing military, and formulating existing practices and theories (Magagna 5). Consequently, the four “R”s of Neo-Confucian Renovation have been formed during the period of modifications. They are represented by rededication to service, reconstitution of power, rationalization of philosophy, and renovation of reality.

Rededication to service

According to Neo-Confucianism, rededication to service means the creation of service elites. To motivate people to serve, the institutional incentives were established. Civil service included social mobility and constant examinations. Moreover, the specific connection between society and state development was established. At the same time, informal local elite was formed, and it began to take an active part in social life and local governing. For instance, such people participated in charity and promoted economic growth and social welfare (Magagna 5). Thus, the establishment of service elite helped to develop new relations between people and government, as well as within the governmental institutions themselves.

Confucianism lost its position as the social life guidance because of Buddhism spread. During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, Confucianism managed to preserve its place; however, new religions became very popular among ordinary people. To regain the previous power, Confucians established their influence on civil service officials’ examination and general education system. One of the first attempts to modify Confucianism was made by Han Yu, who wanted to reach orthodox transmission (Xinzhong 96). According to his views, Buddhism was the source of social disruption. That is why Yu officially asked the Emperor to forbid the practice. At the same time, another scholar Chang underlined the crucial role of Buddhism: “Without the introduction of Buddhism into China there would have been no Neo-Confucianism” (Xinzhong 97). Thus, Buddhism undermined the role of the service.

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The practice of contrasting the nature of Buddhism as the system of views that promoted selfishness to Confucianism as the public-spirited and righteous doctrine was very popular. Neo-Confucianism scholars rejected the perception of life in terms of other-worldliness and impermanence and saw monasteries as the mainstay of disorder and corruption. On the other hand, they underlined the core values of community and family as the foundation of Confucianism (Xinzhong 97). In general, Chinese philosophers regarded the worship of the Buddha and other gods as the superstitious tradition that was aimed at replacing traditional community principles such as personal commitment, social responsibility, and human relations (Xinzhong 98). Thus, Confucian scholars tried to respond to Buddhism ideas.

Shao Yong is a particular representative of Neo-Confucianism scholars who adopted a new vision of service. Despite the fact that he was very popular among common people and high officials, Shao rejected all proposals to occupy an official post. Moreover, one of his nicknames was “Mr. Nameless” (Xinzhong 100). The core reason for such a sobriquet was his outlook and the desire to establish concrete relations with people. For instance, he hid his identity while traveling, which meant the predominance of the Supreme Ultimate (Xinzhong 100). Thus, Shao Yong can be considered as an example of a new generation of officials.

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Reconstitution of power

The Neo-Confucian reconstruction of power led to several outcomes. The main problem that aroused was bureaucracy. Bureaucratic exaggerations led to official institutions inefficiency and the failure of policies. Furthermore, paper money became widely spread and used on a daily basis. Consequently, currency accumulation resulted in hyperinflation. At the same time, high birth rate and rapid demographic growth combined with growing social relations complication were poorly regulated by bureaucratic institutions (Magagna 5). Thus, the reconstruction of power caused numerous difficulties.

At the same time, volunteerism, decentralization, and the formation and development of civil society appeared. Main actions that were taken in order to overcome this situation were power decentralization together with local social groups and institutions empowerment, infrastructure development, and local initiatives approval. On the other hand, nonofficial networks of social opinions and actions were formed as the additional bureaucratic structure. For example, private educational establishments became the popular way to educate elites. Moreover, government started to set particular agendas at various levels in order to conduct their policies (Magagna 5). Therefore, various steps were taken to overcome existing challenges.

Wang Shouren, also known as Yangming, emphasizes the special role of learning as a way to sagehood and power that influence the political development of Asian countries. The philosopher argues that everyone can be a sage because all people can learn. At the same time, not all information or doctrine can teach a person how to achieve this purpose. For instance, common people have many difficulties and face various limitations while studying; that is why only a small number of people can become sage and obtain power in such a way. As a result, Wang is positive that a person should not accumulate the knowledge of external things, but acquire wisdom and make specific efforts in order to get it (Xinzhong 113). Moreover, a human being is selfish in nature, but self-correction and self-control can change this nature. Finally, Wang stresses that it is more important to acquire real-life experience rather than simply memorize words and sentences (Xinzhong 114). Thus, the scholar interprets the role of knowledge and learning in terms of power and politics.

Rationalization of philosophy

Philosophical rationalization is correlated with general modification of philosophy. The appearance of Buddhism undermined the foundation of Confucianism and introduced several questions: all life is suffering, all sufferings come from the desire, and extinction of the desire causes the extinction of suffering (Magagna 5). Consequently, renunciation and relativism became very popular. The cosmos and nature of Dao were analyzed and modified. The philosophy itself became more simplified and standardized. For example, all postulates were gathered in four books: Great Learning, Mencius, Analects, and Doctrine of the Mean. As a result, the ideal model of a human is a self-cultivation individual who is the person of excellence (Magagna 5). Thus, core philosophical foundations have been changed.

Shao Yong adopted a numeral pattern while explaining cosmic evolution. First, yin and yang were considered as basic elements of the universe. Second, Shao distinguished four heavenly bodies: the Moon, the Sun, zodiac space, and the starts, as well as four earthly substances: soil, stone, fire, and water. Third, the scholar defines four periods of human history such as “the spring (the period of the Tree Sovereigns who founded the cultural institutions), the summer (the Five Emperors, which was the period of growth), the autumn (the Tree Dynasties, the period of maturity), and the winter (the Five Despots, the period of decline)” (Xinzhong 100). Consequently, the numerical pattern of the universe allows to make predictions about the future if the person is able to look at things from the viewpoint of things (Xinzhong 101). Thus, Shao Yong introduced the new perception of the universe based on the numeral pattern.

Cheng Yi and Cheng Hao finished the modification of Confucianism so that it developed a new philosophical system. Their main objective was to accord human desires and heavenly principle. Learning and life are seen as interconnected elements that pursue the same purpose of the reduction of human’s desire to achieve the situation when moral virtues prevail in every feeling or action. Chengs formulated tree main ways of person’s development: attending of the decree of Heaven, developing personal nature in its full potential, and studying the principle exhaustively (Xinzhong 104). Thus, Chengs completed the Confucian philosophical alteration.

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Renovation of reality

During the Song Dynasty, a new Confucianism direction was established on the basis of the nature-destiny and body-mind themes exploration. Zhou Dunyi is one of the most prominent philosophers of that period; he is referred by many researches as the “founder of the Song learning” (Xinzhong 98). His Neo-Confucian worldview is based on the Daoism’s Supreme Ultimate. According to this perception, the Supreme Ultimate forms the basis of existence and the concept of yin and yang. The combination of the Way of Earth, the Way of Heaven, the Supreme Ultimate, the Five Elements, yin-yang, and the masculine and feminine forces led to the existence of other things. The transformation and circulation of those things are the part of the unending transformation. Thus, Neo-Confucianism incorporated the ideas of Daoism.

Zhou agrees with the traditional Confucian idea that the highest creature in the whole universe is human. However, existing problems in the world can be resolved with righteousness, sincerity, mean, and humaneness. “The sage is one who is in the state of sincerity, spirit, and subtle incipient activation and established himself as the ultimate standard for man” (Xinzhong 99). Thus, Zhou introduces the idealistic world-view system when a person and his moral qualities bare responsibility for the harmony and order.

The vision of human’s life is presented by Zhang Zai. The scholar is certain that Daoism’s belief in physical immortality is false. In his opinion, “a good Confucian will seek neither to destroy nor to prolong existence; rather, he will cede himself to the will of Heaven, model himself on Heaven and Earth, and do nothing to violate virtue or humaneness” (Xinzhong 103). Zhang introduces the vision of a person who is in the constant mode of improvement and nourishment of his nature, mind, and heart. On the one hand, such things as any kinds of benefits, honors, wealth, or blessing serve as enrichment of life. On the other hand, sorrow, poverty, or humble station should be perceived as things that can appear while the person fulfills his/her destiny. The general mode of life is to pursue learning from previous experience, give new life to humans, and provide peace to the future generation. As a result, at the time when the person is dying, he/she is at peace (Xinzhong 103). Thus, human being is seen at the center of the universe.

Shao Yong combined Confucianism and Daoism in the perception of law and order. Similarly to Zhou, Shao saw the Supreme Ultimate as the foundation of the cosmos. However, from his perspective, heart and mind were two basic things in the universe. Consequently, principles and laws were direct products of heart and mind activities (Xinzhong 100). Thus, Shao Yong explains the law and order from the perspective of their connection with heart and mind.

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Conclusion

The Confucian doctrine transformation that was caused by various factors allowed to modify existing views and develop the new Neo-Confucianism doctrine on their basis. The doctrine is represented by rededication to service, reconstitution of power, rationalization of philosophy, and renovation of reality. New service elites based on examination and special education wanted to develop relations between local governments and people who lived there. Moreover, the whole rededication to service appeared as a response to Buddhism, and Shao Yong can be viewed as a classic example of the service elite. At the same time, bureaucracy, inflation, and demographic boom led to volunteerism, decentralization, and the formation and development of civil society. Special attention was given to the reconstitution of the power of education. Furthermore, Shao Yong, Cheng Yi, and Cheng Hao were those scholars who participated in rationalization of philosophy, while Zhou Dunyi and Shao Yong developed the reality renovation concepts.

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