The Philosophy of Qi
The Record of Great Doubts emphasizes the role of qi in achieving a life of engagement with other humans, with the larger society, and with nature as a whole. Rather than encourage transcendental escapism or quietism, Ekken articulates a philosophy of material force as a basis of living a life of commitment to the world. In this spirit, moral cultivation is not an isolated or a self-centered preoccupation, but an activity that occurs within the dynamic forces of nature and amid the rigorous demands of society. In this context, a vitalism of qi is an emergent force, not only providing the philosophical grounding for this vibrant interaction but also giving a basis for an investigation of the natural world that plumbs the principle within things. Ekken thus aimed to articulate a creative and dynamic milieu for moral education, political harmony, social coherence, and agricultural sustainability.
The Record of Great Doubts embodies Ekken's profound commitment to Confucian ideas and practices as a method for establishing an integrative ethical vision, one he hoped would guide Japan through a new period of peace and stability. A major philosophical treatise in the Japanese Neo-Confucian tradition, The Record of Great Doubts illuminates a crucial chapter in East Asian intellectual history.