The Neo-Confucians in the North Song dynasty pursued the Great Dao in Confucian Classics and conceptualized it as the highest rational principle and cultural spirit, which is known as Tiandao 天道 (the Heavenly Law) or Tianli 天理 (the Heavenly Principle), so as to restrain imperial authority and to provide guidance for political and economic decision-making.1 This was one of the fundamental reasons for the revival of Confucianism in the North Song period. Confucianism has a profound historical and cultural consciousness; it acknowledges the reasons for the changing nature of human social life, and it discourages people from abandoning this worldly life for a heavenly paradise. In Yijing (The Book of Changes), the emphasis on the idea of Sheng Sheng 生生 (ceaseless/creative creativity), morality and social norms coincides with the ethos of Confucianism. The Confucians’ effort in interpreting Yijing contributed to he revival of Confucianism in the North Song dynasty. By outlining the blueprint of an ideal world, they hoped to bring social development back on track. As a result, they had in-depth discussions on a number of philosophical questions, such as the end goal of history, social structure, social change, momentum, and laws of historical development. The neo-Confucianism in the North Song dynasty can be regarded as including a philosophy of history.

In: KronoScope