Yeshi of the Southern Song Dynasty: opposing Zhu Xi’s Neo Confucianism with “utilitarianism”

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After the disgrace of Jingkang, as a result of Pianan in the Southern Song Dynasty, countless people with lofty ideals wanted to make contributions and recover the Northern Territory. Yeshi, a Wenzhou native, was one of them. He believed that it was inappropriate for Zhu Xi’s Neo Confucianism to advocate the moral cultivation of empty talk of sex and reason at a time when the country was in such a crisis.

Yeshi opposed Zhu Xi’s Neo Confucianism with “utilitarianism”. He believed that “if there is no utilitarianism, the moralist is a useless empty language”; Advocate “trade and industry, support merchants with the power of the state, and circulate money”; We are opposed to “focusing on the basic and suppressing the end” which only focuses on agriculture and despises industry and commerce. Yeshi emphasized that “Tao” existed in the things themselves, and “where things are, Tao is where things are”. He advocated making a practical investigation of things to determine the righteousness and reason, and opposed the empty talk of nature and reason at that time.

Ye Shi was born in Shuixin street, Rui’an County, Wenzhou in the 20th year of Shaoxing of Emperor Gaozong of Song Dynasty (1150). His father was outgoing and ambitious, but did not enter the official career. The year Du’s mother married to the Ye family, it happened that there was a flood, and the utensils in the family were washed away by the flood. Since then, the Ye family has had a more difficult life. They have no fixed place to live, and have moved 21 times. At the age of 11, the famous scholar chenfuliang taught at Lin Yuanzhang’s family in the county seat. Ye Shi often played in the Lin family. Because he was intelligent and liked, Lin Yuanzhang asked him to accompany the Lin family to study, thus obtaining the opportunity to learn from Chen Fuliang.

At the age of 13, Ye Shi moved from Ruian to Wenzhou with his father (Yongjia in ancient times); At the age of 15, he studied poetry and contemporary literature, which had a profound impact on his academic attainments throughout his life. At the age of 16, Ye Shi began to make a living as a lecturer (teacher) in Yueqing, Wenzhou. In the fourth year of Chunxi’s reign (1177), Ye Shi was recommended by Zhou Bida, a famous Minister of the Southern Song Dynasty. He passed the Cao examination (one of the song Gongju examinations) and was selected as the winner. In the spring of the next year, he was the second (second) scholar in the middle school. Since then, Ye Shi has stepped into his official career. He served as an official in the three dynasties of Xiaozong, Guangzong and ningzong, and was an official to the right (Acting) minister of the Ministry of work and Minister of the Ministry of officials. He advocated against the Jin and opposed peace talks. Han Li, Minister of the Southern Song Dynasty ? He was suitable to take charge of the Jiankang mansion and the riverside envoy under the command of baomo Pavilion. Due to the appropriate military and political arrangements, he had repeatedly defeated the enemy’s sharpness. After the retreat of the Jin soldiers, he was employed as a waiting system for the Baowen Pavilion, and also as an envoy for the Jianghuai system. He was once proposed to go to the fortress and implement the reclamation of farmland, which contributed to the consolidation of border defense. Because the ancients called Wenzhou Yongjia, Ye Shi was the representative of Yongjia school in philosophy. He adheres to the materialistic view, opposes empty talk of nature, advocates “the study of merit”, attaches importance to business, and advocates improving the status of businessmen, which is the theoretical source of Wenzhou People’s entrepreneurial spirit in history.

I can disagree with you, but I want to protect your right to express your opinions. Although Ye Shi opposed Zhu Xi’s Neo Confucianism all his life, in June of the 15th year of Chunxi’s reign (1188), when Zhu Xi was impeached by Lin Li, a minister of the Ministry of military for no reason, Ye Shi immediately wrote a letter to defend Zhu Xi. In the article “Zhu Yuanhui, a Lang officer of the army of defense”, which was presented to the court, he fiercely attacked Lin Li’s abominable act of suppressing academic thoughts with political power, and upheld justice for Zhu Xi’s academic freedom. It can be seen that Ye Shi is an intellectual with a clear theoretical stand and a strong sense of justice in personality.

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