Philosophical Transmission and Contestation
The Impact of Qing Confucianism in Southern Vietnam
Southern Vietnam was reclaimed by the Vietnamese in the mid-seventeenth century. They first brought their folk Buddhism and various popular religions to new land; however, the bureaucratic system then forced the Chinese Han–Song dynasties’ institutionalized and politicalized Confucianism on the population. The arrival of the Chinese from overseas since the late seventeenth century marked the introduction of Qing Confucianism into Southern Vietnam, shaping the pro-Yangming studies among local literati. Many writers claim that Qing Confucianism had no impact on Vietnam. Obviously, however, these writers ignored the diversity of Vietnamese Confucianism in the new frontiers in the South. Qing Confucianism was truly absorbed into many aspects of life among the local gentry, popularizing the so-called pro-Yangming studies.
The article aims to study the transmission, contestation, transformation, and manipulation of Qing Confucianism in Southern Vietnam by penetrating deeper into the life, career, mentality, merits, and influence of local Confucianists and reviving the legacies of practical learning in local scholarship. The research discovers that the practical learning of Qing Confucianism dominated the way of thinking and acting of local elites, affecting ideological, educational, cultural and socio-economic domains of local society. However, the domination of the classical Confucian orthodoxy and the lack of state-sponsored institutionalization in late feudal periods, as well as the later overwhelming imposition of Western civilization under French colonial rule, seriously challenged and downgraded the impacts of Qing Confucianism in Vietnam. Therefore, Yangming studies were once transmitted but had limited impact on Vietnam.
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