Wednesday, October 06, 2021


 The substantial usage of the word li is particularly a neo-Confucian earmark, even though it was already employed in Huayan Buddhism to designate ultimate reality. The word was initially used as a verb, which means "to carve jade" (the Chinese character has jade as a radical). A fine jade craftsman must carefully study the lines and grooves of an uncut jade in order to produce a beautiful piece of jade. By extension, li as a noun means the veins or detailed markings of a thing, li as a verb means to regulate, to administer, and to manage. In neo-Confucian discourse, the meaning of li includes pattern, sequence, logic, order, and norm. The Cheng-Zhu school also established a normative dimension of the concept li for they claim that everything in the world ought to meet the standard set by its own principle.

[JeeLoo Liu, Neo-Confucianism, Wiley (Hoboken, NJ: 2018) p. 6.]