Han Learning (simplified Chinese: 汉学; traditional Chinese: 漢學;
pinyin: Hànxué), or the Han school of classical philology, was an
intellectual movement that reached its height in the middle of the
Qing dynasty (1644–1912) in China.
1 Nature and origins
2 Growth of influence
3 Political activity
6 See also
Nature and origins
Han learning began with the "evidential scholarship" (simplified
Chinese: 考证; traditional Chinese: 考證; pinyin: kǎozhèng)
movement of the late Ming dynasty, which was a reaction against the
so-called "Song Learning", or Neo-Confucianism, which had arisen
Song dynasty (12th century).
Daoist influences into the Confucianist
tradition, introducing a new cosmology emphasising the moral nature of
Neo-Confucianism was adopted as Confucian orthodoxy under
Song dynasty and formed the basis of the imperial examination
until nearly the end of the Qing dynasty.
Evidential scholars reacted to the innovations of
turning back to the original classics, employing philological
techniques to try to authenticate the real words of Confucius. This
involved the comparison of different texts in great detail. This
school of learning came to be called “Han Learning” because it
Han dynasty commentaries as being closer to the original
Growth of influence
The fall of the
Ming dynasty and the rise of the
Qing dynasty was a
watershed in the development of this trend of philological thought.
Scholars in the evidential scholarship tradition attacked the
heterodox and subjective ideals of "Song learning" as having betrayed
the true teachings of Confucius, resulting in decadence,
individualism, and factionalism in the Ming court. This was blamed for
bringing about the fall of the Ming dynasty.
The Han Learning scholars played an important role in many
intellectual works sponsored by the Qing court. They were involved in
the Siku Quanshu, a monumental encyclopaedic project commissioned by
Qianlong Emperor which involved the collection of the entire
Chinese canon of studies on the mind, nature, government and humanity.
While this work was firmly grounded in Neo-Confucian orthodoxy, the
philological expertise of evidential scholars was drawn on to ensure
the authenticity of the canon. Han Learning played a major role in
providing annotations and evidential scholarship on regulations and
edicts, together with works of philosophers.
By the mid-eighteenth century,
Han learning (Yan Ruoqu, Hui Dong) had
proved that various parts of the sacred classics were in fact later
forgeries of the Han dynasty.
While it may appear to be concerned with philological minutiae, the
debate between the Neo-Confucianists and the adherents of Han learning
had considerable repercussions, weakening the cosmological
underpinnings of the imperial state, although not its political
dominance. Han Learning and Song Learning were eventually blended
into a new school of thought during the late Qing.
Scholars involved included Wang Fuzhi, Gu Yanwu, Yan Yuan, Li Gong,
Dai Zhen, Duan Yucai, Ji Yun, Zhang Xuecheng, Ruan Yuan, and Liao
Ping. In the late Qing period, Han Learning appealed to many reformers
and revolutionaries such as Kang Youwei, who eventually became a
Tan Sitong a fervent anti-Manchu polemicist; and Liu
Shipei a devout nationalist who was first an revolutionary and an
anarchist then a supporter of Yuan Shikai. Cui Shu went further and
Han learning in an attempt to recover pre-Han Confucianism.
According to B. Elman, many Han Learning proponents were involved in
opposition to Heshen's clique (1746-99), thus suggesting that typical
portrayal of this group as apolitical should be reconsidered.
A remarkable parallel to the revival of
Han learning in the late
imperial period is provided by development of the Han medicine (Kampo
in Japan). Same as
Han learning stood in the opposition to the
intellectual trend of the three previous dynasties, Han medicine was a
reaction against the standard of Song-Ming medicine (the so-called
"neo-Confucianization of the body"). 
^ Elman, Benjamin A. Classicism, politics, and kingship: the
Chang-chou school of New Text
Confucianism in late imperial China.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990:283-4. 
Schools of Thought
Chinese Marxist Philosophy
School of Diplomacy
School of Names
School of Naturalists
See also: Hundred Schools of Thought
Jiān ài: Universal Love
Lĭ: Ritual propriety
Mìng: Mandate or fate
Tiān: Divine force
Wú wéi: Nonaction
Xiào: Filial piety
Xin: Disposition or intuition
Xing: Human nature
Yīnyáng: Interdependent opposites
Zhèngmíng: Rectification of names
Zhì: Intention or will; Wisdom or cleverness
Zìrán: Self-so or natural
Ethics (Role ethics