Lê Quý Đôn’s Theory of Li-qi
This paper discusses the work of Lê Quý Đôn (1726–1784), a prominent scholar of Later Lê Vietnam who was deeply influenced by Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism. Lê’s masterwork, the Classified Discourses from Yun Terrace (Yuntai leiyu 芸臺類語, Vân đài loại ngữ), exemplifies this intellectual heritage. This essay considers the text’s first volume in light of Zhu Xi’s theory of li-qi. While drawing deeply from Zhu Xi’s theory of an inseparable li-qi, Lê’s concept of li-qi ultimately originated in Han dynasty qi-transformative cosmology. Also influenced by a Vietnamese tradition of Three Teachings syncretism, Lê integrated Neo-Confucianism with Han cosmology to create a unique li-qi theory.
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