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Dai Zhen
Dai Zhen
Dai Zhen
Born (1724-01-19)January 19, 1724
Xiuning, Anhui
Died July 1, 1777(1777-07-01) (aged 53)
Occupation Chinese scholar of the Qing dynasty

Dai Zhen (Chinese: 戴震; pinyin: Dài Zhèn; Wade–Giles: Tai Chen, January 19, 1724 – July 1, 1777) was a prominent Chinese scholar of the Qing dynasty from Xiuning, Anhui. A versatile scholar, he made great contributions to mathematics, geography, phonology and philosophy. His philosophical and philological critiques of Neo-Confucianism continue to be influential.

Dai's philosophical contributions included those to the Han Learning school of Evidential Learning (Evidentialism) which criticized the Song Learning school of Neo-Confucianism. In particular, two criticisms that Dai made was: First, Neo-Confucianism focused too much on introspective self-examination whereas truth was to be found in investigation of the external world.

Second, he criticized the Neo-Confucian drive to eliminate human desire as an obstacle to rational investigation. Dai argued that human desire was a good and integral part of the human experience, and that eliminating human desire from philosophy had the bad effect of making it difficult to understand and control one's emotions as well as making it impossible to establish empathy with others.

Famous works

  • Faxianglun (On images and patterns)
  • Yuanshan (Tracing the origin of goodness) in three paragraphs
  • Du Yi Xici lun xing (Reading “Appended Words” in The Book of Changes on human nature)
  • Du Meng Zi lun xing (Reading Mencius about human nature)
  • Yuanshan (Tracing the origin of goodness) in three chapters
  • Meng Zi sishulu (Record of Mencius's private virtue)
  • Xuyan (Prefatory words)
  • Daxue buzhu (Additional annotations to the Daxue)
  • Zhongyong buzhu (Additional annotations to the Zhongyong)
  • Meng Zi ziyi shuzheng (Evidential Commentary on the Meaning of the Words of Mencius)
  • Yu mou shu (A letter to a certain person)
  • Yu Peng jinshi Yunchu shu
  • Dingchou zhengyue yu Duan Yucai shu (A letter to Duan Yucai dated in the first month of the year dingchou [February 1777])
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