Wang Yangming and the School of Mind: An Interview with Professor George L. Israel
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Wang Yangming 王陽明 (born Wang Shouren 王守仁, 1472-1529) is one of the most famous pre-modern Chinese intellectuals and the founder of the School of Mind (心學) of Neo-Confucianism, which was hugely influential in the later half of the Ming Dynasty. In addition to being philosopher, he was also an accomplished statesman, military leader, and calligrapher. In this episode, we speak with Professor George L. Israel, an expert on the study of Wang Yangming, who will introduce us to Wang's life and career, his thoughts and tenants, and his reception in the Ming and the Qing, as well as in neighboring Korea and Japan, and how Wang is viewed in China today.

We apologize for some audio issues with this recording.


Professor George L. Israel

Professor George L. Israel is a Professor of History at Middle Georgia State University. His research is primarily on Ming intellectual history and Neo-Confucianism, with a particular focus on the famous Ming Neo-Confucian philosopher Wang Yangming, and he has published extensively about that subject in both English and Chinese.  

Yiming Ha

Yiming Ha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His current research is on military mobilization and state-building in China between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, focusing on how military institutions changed over time, how the state responded to these changes, the disconnect between the center and localities, and the broader implications that the military had on the state. His project highlights in particular the role of the Mongol Yuan in introducing an alternative form of military mobilization that radically transformed the Chinese state. He is also interested in military history, nomadic history, comparative Eurasian state-building, and the history of maritime interactions in early modern East Asia. He received his BA from UCLA and his MPhil from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.


Episode no. 11

Release date: May 1, 2022

Recording location: Los Angeles, CA/Macon, GA


Bibliography courtesy of Professor Israel


Cover Image: An official portrait of Wang Yangming (Image Source)

Grand Hall of Wang Yangming's former residence in Shaoxing (Image Source)

Wang Yangming's tomb at Shaoxing (Image Source)

A copy of Wang Yangming's calligraphy, currently held at Princeton University (Image Source)


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Ching, Julia. The Records of Ming Scholars. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987.

Chow, Kai-wing. The Rise of Confucian Ritualism in Late Imperial China: Ethics, Classics, and Lineage Discourse. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994.

Chung, So-yi. “Korean Yangming Learning.” In Dao Companion to Korean Confucian Philosophy, 253-284. Edited by Young-chan Ro. Springer, 2019.

Israel, George L. Studying Wang Yangming: History of a Sinological Field. Kindle Direct Publishing, 2022.

____. “The Renaissance of Wang Yangming Studies in the People’s Republic of China.” Philosophy East and West 66, no. 3 (Jul. 2019): 1001-1019.

Jiao Kun 焦堃. Yangming xinxue yu Mingdai neige zhengzhi 陽明心學與明代内閣政治 (The Yangming school of mind and the politics of the grand secretariat during the Ming dynasty). Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 2021.

Ogyū Shigehiro 荻生茂博. “The Construction of ‘Modern Yōmeigaku’ in Meiji Japan and Its Impact on China.” Translated, with an introduction, by Barry D. Steben. East Asian History no. 20 (December 2000): 83–120.

Qian Ming 錢明. Wang Yangming ji qi xuepai lun kao 王陽明及其學派論考 (Verification of theories of Wang Yangming and his school of thought). Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe, 2009.

Zhang Kunjiang 張崑將. Yangmingxue zai dongya: quanshi, jiaoliu yu xingdong 陽明學在東亞:詮釋, 交流與行動 (Yangming learning in East Asia: interpretation, exchange, and action). Taipei: Guoli Taiwan Daxue Chuban Zhongxin, 2011.


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