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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Liu Yü-hsi (772-842) : a study of his thought Wong, Kwok-yiu


This thesis examines the thought of Liu Yü-hsi (772-842), a participant of the mid-T’ang (Ca. 750-850) Confucian revival movement. In this study, I have attempted to construct an approximation of Liu’s thought through the discussions of two major elements in his thought: Confucianism and Buddhism. In addition, I also discuss his famous philosophical dissertation T’ien Lun” (“On Heaven”) in order to present a basic understanding of Liu’s world view. These discussions reveal that Confucianism occupied a central position in Liu YU-hsi’s thought. His major concern in life was how to “bring benefit to the people” (“chi-wu”). Buddhism, while it occupied an important place in Liu’s life, never took charge of his inner life completely. He conceived that Buddhism and Confucianism share a similar goal in their teachings. In particular, Buddhism should form a complement to Confucianism. Hence, he selected elements from various Buddhist schools that best fit his major concern in life. In this way, Buddhism and Confucianism co-exist in a harmonious and connected fashion in his thought. To achieve the goal of “chi-wu,” Liu also believed that humans are totally responsible for their own future. The phenomenal world, according to Liu, is regulated by a pair of concepts -- shu (numerical dimensions) and shih (conditions). These concepts explain the basic principles behind which events occur in the world. If human beings are to optimize the state of their existence, they have to exert themselves to construct a well-regulated society. Such a society can be achieved by the use of laws that are based on Confucian moral values. Therefore, Liu’s thought can be characterized by his social concern.

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