Shen Gua's Empiricism
Shen Gua (1031 1095) is a household name in China, known as a distinguished renaissance man and the author of Brush Talks from Dream Brook , an old text whose remarkable "scientific" discoveries make it appear curiously ahead of its time. In this first book-length study of Shen in English, Ya Zuo reveals the connection between Shen's life as an active statesman and his ideas, specifically the empirical stance manifested through his wide-ranging inquiries. She places Shen on the broad horizon of premodern Chinese thought, and presents his empiricism within an extensive narrative of Chinese epistemology.
Relying on Shen as a searchlight, Zuo focuses in on how an individual thinker summoned conditions and concepts from the vast Chinese intellectual tradition to build a singular way of knowing. Moreover, her study of Shen provides insights into the complex dynamics in play at the dawn of the age of Neo-Confucianism and compels readers to achieve a deeper appreciation of the diversity in Chinese thinking.
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