“Ghosts and spirits, as well as sacrifices” in Master Zhu’s thought

ZHAO Jingang1

(1.Institute of Philosophy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

【Abstract】Master Zhu believed that vital forces would dissipate on his theory, but he held general Confucian ideas in terms of making sacrifices. He firmly believed that reverence and honesty could generate “ganying感应 (inductive responses)” between the people making sacrifices and their ancestors. “Gange 感格 (sense or to sense one’s arrival)” in sacrifice is based on the theory of “li 理 (principle)” and “qi 气 (vital force)” by Master Zhu. Building on Xie Liangzuo’s saying that “the spirit of the ancestors is the spirit of one’s own,” Master Zhu maintained that the extension of blood was based on the “principle of reproduction,” which means that one’s own vital force was the direct extension of the ancestors. Though the vital force of ancestors might dissipate, it could continue to exist through the existence of the descendants. Part of Master Zhu’s interpretation of rites was based on his theory of “principle and vital forces.” Master Zhu further gave philosophical interpretations of the Confucian views of body and life under the framework of “principles and vital forces.”

【Keywords】 vital force; ganying; ancestors; sacrifices;


Download this article


    [1]. ①Qian Mu interpreted ghosts and spirits from the perspective of vital force, claiming that “Master Zhu’s theory on ghosts and spirits derived from his division of yin and yang for vital force.” See Qian, M. 朱子新学案 Book 1. Beijing: Jiuzhou Press, 323 (2011). [^Back]

    [2]. ②Wu, Z. Philosophical Analysis (哲学分析), (5): 323 (2012). [^Back]

    [3]. ③ Wang, W. Social Sciences of Beijing(北京社会科学), (4): 4 (2014). [^Back]

    [4]. ① [Song] Li, J. (ed.) 朱子语类. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 459 (1999). In this paper, the book is referred to as Yulei for short. [^Back]

    [5]. ② 朱子语类, 1813. [^Back]

    [6]. ③ 朱子语类, 2437. [^Back]

    [7]. ④ [Song] Chen, H. & Chen, Y. 二程集. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 122 (1999). [^Back]

    [8]. ① 朱子语类 Book 3, 47. [^Back]

    [9]. ② 朱子语类 Book 3, 43. [^Back]

    [10]. ① [Song] Zhu, X. 晦庵先生朱文公文集 in Zhu, J., Yan, Z. & Liu, Y. (eds.) 朱子全书 Book 23. Shanghai: Shanghai Classics Publishing House, Hefei: Anhui Education Publishing House, 2174 (2002). In this paper, it is referred to as Wenji for short. [^Back]

    [11]. ② 朱子语类, 37. [^Back]

    [12]. ③ 晦庵先生朱文公文集, 2132. [^Back]

    [13]. ④ 朱子语类, 43. [^Back]

    [14]. ⑤ In the “Tan Gong” section of the Book of Rites (礼记·檀弓), Confucius said, “In dealing with the dead, if we treat them as if they were entirely dead, that would show a want of affection, and should not be done; or, if we treat them as if they were entirely alive, that would show a want of wisdom, and should not be done.” Confucius neither confirmed nor denied the existence of ghosts and spirits. [^Back]

    [15]. ① [Song] Xie, L. 上蔡语录 in Zhu, J. et al. (eds.) 朱子全书外编 Book 3. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press, 12–13 (2010). [^Back]

    [16]. ① 晦庵先生朱文公文集, 2436–2437. [^Back]

    [17]. ② 晦庵先生朱文公文集, 2438. [^Back]

    [18]. ① 晦庵先生朱文公文集, 2439–2440. [^Back]

    [19]. ② 晦庵先生朱文公文集, 2081-2082. [^Back]

    [20]. ③ 晦庵先生朱文公文集, 2082. [^Back]

    [21]. ①朱子语类, 46. [^Back]

    [22]. ② 朱子语类, 1546. [^Back]

    [23]. ③ 朱子语类, 1551–1552. [^Back]

    [24]. ④ ⑤ 朱子语类, 50. [^Back]

    [25]. ① 朱子语类, 1550. [^Back]

    [26]. ② 朱子语类, 47–49. [^Back]

    [27]. ③ 朱子语类, 53. [^Back]

    [28]. ① 朱子语类, 52. [^Back]

    [29]. ② ④ 朱子语类, 2467. [^Back]

    [30]. ③ 朱子语类, 52. [^Back]

    [31]. ⑤ 朱子语类, 51. [^Back]

    [32]. ① On this point, Huang Junjie’s arguments could be referred to. See Huang, J. 东亚儒学史的新视野. Taipei: Taiwan University Press, 324 (2004). [^Back]

    [33]. ② Shiga Shuzo discussed this issue in detail in his book The Principle of Chinese Family Law . See [Japan] Shiga Shuzo. The Principle of Chinese Family Law . Zhang, J. & Li, L. (trans.) Beijing: Commercial Press, 42 (2013). [^Back]

    [34]. ③ 四书章句集注, 210. [^Back]

This Article


CN: 11-1299/B

Vol , No. 06, Pages 38-48

December 2017


Article Outline


  • 1 Principle of “ganying”
  • 2 Spirit of ancestors as the spirit of one’s own
  • 3 Sacrifice offering and rites
  • 4 Conclusions: theory of vital force and views of body and life
  • Footnote