Theory of Knowledge 2: “Genuine Knowledge” and the Problem of Knowledge and Action in Zhu Xi

  • Kai-chiu NgEmail author
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 13)


This chapter deals with a challenge many may find for Zhu Xi’s philosophy: if moral cultivation (or self-cultivation), as Zhu Xi holds, relies much upon a “cognitive activity”—“apprehension of the principles in things” and “probing principle” (gewu qiongli 格物窮理), then, given the familiar phenomenon of “weakness of will”, it is reasonable to suspect that Zhu Xi’s “cognitive activity” may not provide enough motivation for moral actions. In other words, gewu qiongli seems only to be able to secure moral knowledge—knowing what one should and should not do—but not moral action of doing what one should do and refusing to do what one should not do.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongPeople’s Republic of China

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