The Mind-Body Problem and the Philosophy of Qi

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No. 6, 2022


The Mind-Body Problem and the Philosophy of Qi



Ding Yun


As one of the most important traditions of Chinese thought, the philosophy of qi has yet to find a proper modern expression. The main reason is that the fundamental problem of modern Chinese philosophy is the mind-body problem, and the urgency of this problem is closely related to Yangmingism, the thought of Wang Yangming. In the late Ming, the philosophy of qi provided a response to idealism and solved the mind-body problem by sublating and abandoning Yangmingism. Liu Zongzhou and Wang Fuzhi borrowed the approach that the Vijnanamatra scholars had adopted to overcome Yangmingism, thus creating a path for a philosophy of qi based on idealism. The characteristics of this philosophy were clearly manifest in this transformation: developing the philosophy of mind from the theory of self-cultivation, using the study of the Vijnanamatra (consciousness only) to restate the philosophy of mind, and using the philosophy of qi alone to transform the study of consciousness only. Here, further demonstration should focus on how Wang Fuzhi transformed alaya-vijnana into The universe is qi. As a comparison, scholars should also explicate and review the theories of Liang Shuming and Xiong Shili in modern Chinese philosophy, and examine why they failed to move towards a philosophy of qi even though they also put forward their own theories of Vijnanamatra.