The development of the Chinese doctrine of the nonidentity and inseparability of the body and the soul: The Shenmielun (On the Extinction of the Soul) and its origins

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Abstract

Fan Zhen's 范縝 (450–515) Shenmielun 神滅論 (On the Extinction of the Soul) is a famous Chinese treatise discussing the body-soul problem. This discussion had been advocated by Huan Tan 桓譚 (43 BCE–28 CE) and Wang Chong 王充 (27–100). However, their views did not receive positive attention: at the beginning of the Eastern Han dynasty, their intellectual weight was far from significant enough to spur the court's interest in the topic. During the time of Fan Zhen, Emperor Wu of Liang (Liang Wudi 梁武帝, 464–549), a keen protector of the thought of dharma, raised the question of the soul and the body to a political level, making it the focus of academic debate. The aim of this article is to give a comprehensive account on the development of the idea of the nonidentity and inseparability of the body and the soul as promulgated by Fan Zhen and his predecessors from the perspective of the history of ideas. Copyright © 2018 Springer Nature B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-379
JournalDao
Volume17
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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Doctrine
Non-identity
Extinction
Dharma
Emperor
Han Dynasty
History of Ideas
Thought
Treatise

Citation

Fung, S.-F. (2018). The development of the Chinese doctrine of the nonidentity and inseparability of the body and the soul: The Shenmielun (On the Extinction of the Soul) and its origins. Dao, 17(3), 363-379. doi: 10.1007/s11712-018-9615-9

Keywords

  • Fan Zhen 范縝
  • Shenmielun 神滅論
  • On the Extinction of the Soul
  • Body-soul problem