Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Lu Shih-i

LU Shih-i 陸世儀 (T. 道威, H. 剛齋, 桴亭), Sept. 6, 1611–1672, Feb. 18, philosopher of the Confucian school, was a native of T'ai-ts'ang, Kiangsu. When a boy of eighteen (sui) he studied the classics under Chao Tzŭ-hsin 趙自新 (T. 我完, H. 樽匏, chü-jên of 1639), and became a hsiu-ts'ai in 1632. In the following year he studied under Shih Tien 石電 (T. 敬巖, d. 1635), an expert in spearmanship, who had come to T'ai-ts'ang to teach young men the arts of warfare. The training was timely as the threat of pirates on the river was increasing. The same year (1633) he wrote his first book, the 八陣發明 Pa-chên fa-ming, a treatise on strategics. This work is an exposition of diagrams similar to the so-called pa-chên t'u (圖), or "eight strategic position diagrams" attributed to Chu-ko Liang 諸葛亮 (T. 孔明, 181–234 A.D.), which were much discussed by students of military science in Lu's day. While still a young man Lu followed the lectures of Liu Tsung-chou [q. v.], but without becoming a disciple of that philosopher.

Lu's public activities were few. He appreciated, however, the importance of the work on flood prevention, and on three occasions (1656, 1657 and 1671) submitted proposals about this matter, but without success. Several times, in his later years, he was offered official employment but refused, except in one instance (1657) when, at the invitation of Chang Nêng-lin 張能鱗 (T. 玉甲, H. 西山) who was appointed commissioner of education in 1656, he went for a short period to Chinkiang, Kiangsu, to assist Chang in reading examination papers. Lu was interested from youth in organizing societies. One of the first entries in his nien-p'u, 1627 (seventeen sui), reads: "He agreed with his companions to form a literary society". One of the last entries, 1671 (sixty-one sui), is: "He formed at T'ai-ts'ang the Society of the Ten Elders". In 1637 he and three friends began to meet regularly in a study-group, and were jokingly called by the villagers the Four Chün-tzŭ (四君子). During the time of famine in 1641 he organized a relief society (同善會), and twice (1638, 1648) founded societies for the advancement of education and moral character. In his later years Lu travelled extensively. He visited Kiangsi in 1661, where he stayed at An-i, assisting the magistrate as secretary, and the following year made an excursion to the Pai-lu Grotto (白鹿洞) near Mt. Lu 廬山 where Chu Hsi (see under Hu Wei) had taught. Twice (1669, 1671) he journeyed to Tan-yang, Kiangsu. Before this period of travel he had been active in visiting towns in southern Kiangsu, near Taitsang, to give lectures.

While he was in An-i (1661) the magistrate there financed the carving of the blocks for the printing of a book he had started to write almost a quarter of a century before (1637). This, the most important of his works, is the 思辨錄 Ssŭ-pien lu. It is a series of discussions set forth under fourteen headings, the titles and ideas of which were patterned after, or suggested by, passages in The Great Learning. It covers a large field: ethics, political philosophy, education, metaphysics, astronomy, geography, agricultural economics, conservation work, strategics, feudal institutions. Originally it was so voluminous that Chang Po-hsing [q. v.] compiled a synopsis of it in 35 chüan, entitled the Ssŭ-pien lu chi-yao (輯要), of which 22 chüan were printed in the Chêng-i t'ang ch'üan-shu (see under Chang Po-hsing). Later it was recompiled from extant fragments of the original edition, and reprinted in 1837 in 35 chüan. In 1887 it was revised and enlarged. A collection of 21 of Lu's works entitled 陸子遺書 Lu tzŭ i-shu, was edited by T'ang Shou-ch'i 唐受祺 and printed in Peking in 1900. The first volume of this compilation contains a chronological biography by T'ang, and two other biographical sketches: a hsing-chuang 行狀 by Ch'ên Hu 陳瑚 (T. 言夏, H. 確菴, 1613–1675) with whom Lu established a lifelong friendship after 1627, and a hsing-shih 行實 by Lu's son, Lu Yün-chêng 陸允正 (T. 師程).

Lu's writings are commended for their firm maintenance of the traditional rites and customs, for their not making empty the merits of the moral nature, for their freedom from vain dialectical play upon the meaning of words, and for the practical character of their doctrines. In 1875, by imperial edict, his name was placed in the Temple of Confucius. He was unofficially given two posthumous names: Tsun-tao 尊道 and Wên-ch'ien 文潛.


[T'ang Shou-ch'i, Tsun-tao hsien-shêng nien-p'u in Lu tzŭ i-shu (1900); 1/486/12b; 2/66/11a; 3/398/1a; 4/127/7a; Chung-kuo chin san-pai nien hsüeh-shu shih (see bibl. under Hui Tung), pp. 155–159; T. Watters, A Guide to the Tablets in a Temple of Confucius (1879), pp. 229–232; Ssŭ-k'u, passim.]

Rufus O. Suter