The Four Categories of Literature
The Xiao sishu 小四書 "Four Books for Primary Education"
is a collection of four texts on primary education written during the Song period 宋 (960-1279). It was compiled and published by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Zhu Shengjiang 朱升將. The four texts are Xingli zixun 性理字訓 by Zhu Ruoyong 程若庸, Mingwu mengxue 名物蒙求 by Fang Fengchen 方逢辰, Lidai mengqiu 歷代蒙求 by Chen Li 陳櫟, and Shixue tiyao 史學提要 by Huang Jishan 黃繼善.
The Xingli zixun deals with the Neo-Confucian concept of the human nature (xing 性 "charcater") as influenced by the Heavenly principle (li 理) that is believed to be naturally good. This principle is embedded in man's heart or mind (xin 心)and therefore allows him to be naturally endowed with the virtues of kindheartedness (ren 仁), propriety (yi 義), etiquette (li 禮) and wisdom (zhi 智). If nourished in the age of a child, these virtues will come to full blossoming in later years. Cheng Ruoyong wrote his book as an easy-to-understand explanation of the book Xiaoxue 小學 (Xiaoxue jizhu 小學集注) that had been written by the great Neo-Confucian master Zhu Xi 朱熹, but in a very scholarly way that is only to be read with great difficulties.
The Mingwu mengqiu is a kind of encyclopedia that was born out of the need to "investigate matters" (gewu 格物) and therefore explains designations (ming 名) and the appearance of the objects (wu 物) named by them. It describes terms of landscape, objects of daily life and domestic animals.
The Lidai mengqiu and Lixue tiyao are a concise histories. The latter is written in verses.
|小四書 Xiao sishu|
(Ming) 朱升將 Zhu Shengjiang (comp.)
|書名, length in juan
||(Ming) 程若庸 Zhu Ruoyong
||(Ming) 方逢辰 Fang Fengchen
||(Ming) 陳櫟 Chen Li
||(Ming) 黃繼善 Huang Jishan
Source: Zhou Faceng 周發增, Chen Longtao 陳隆濤, Qi Jixiang 齊吉祥 (ed. 1998), Zhongguo gudai zhengzhi zhidu cidian 中國古代政治制度史辭典 (Beijing: Shoudu shifan daxue chubanshe), p. 439.
September 21, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
Chinese Literature over time