The Study of Dong Zhongshu’s Concept of Benevolence and Righteousness Focuses on “Zhengming”


  • Chunmin Dai Universiti Sains Malaysia
  • Suhaila Abdullah Universiti Sains Malaysia


Zhengming (正名 - rectifying names), Dong Zhongshu, benevolence, righteousness


Benevolence and righteousness are important propositions of Chinese philosophy. Dong Zhongshu has made great achievements in collecting benevolence and righteousness thought of pre-Qin Confucianism. Dong Zhongshu inherited and developed Confucius’ and pre-Qin’s ideas of zhengming (??meaning rectifying names or the rectification of name), The relationship between ming (?meaning ‘name’) and “reality” is used to expound his principle of benevolence and righteousness. Dong Zhongshu attaches significant importance to zhengming, elevating the importance of the “ming” to the first key to the governance of the country. The sound, meaning and form of minghao are consistent, and it is the expression of providence, so minghao must be true. Generic name (??) is the general name of things, and Second-level name is the name of all things, and generic name is simple and few, and Second-level name is numerous. Minghao goes straight to providence to distinguish all things. Dong Zhongshu analyzes the pronunciation, form and meaning of ren (?benevolence) and Yi (?righteousness) from the angle of name rectification and explores their internal consistency. Benevolence is how to treat others, love others, not love yourself; Righteousness is to be strict with self, to correct self, not to correct others (??????????. Dong Zhongshu further regarded ren as “generic name”, incorporated into the existence and operation of heaven, and “released ren with heaven”. Heaven produces all things, there is benevolence. During moral practice, Dong Zhongshu used the idea of “zhengming” to determine the connotation and principle of benevolence and righteousness, clarified the ethical and moral norms, and guided people to better practice benevolence and righteousness.