Because the so-called “three teachings” (Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism) lost much of their separate identity and exclusivist appeal during the 300 years between mid-T'ang and Southern Sung, the syncretism developed by Chu Hsi and others in the 13th century represented not an explicit fusion of these three teachings, but an integration of several 11th and 12th century interpreters, of proliferated early Confucian canonical literature, and a revival of the tao, which served to confirm the legitimate position of the “contemporary” Sung with respect to their classical heritage. This new syncretism, called tao-hsüeh, was immediately vulnerable as the vain, unnecessary and fundamentally unacceptable effort of a few men to monopolize the true tao, both to solidify their own philosophical position and to gain political advantages. As the attack on tao-hsüeh turned to an attack on wei-hsüeh (“false learning”) in the 1190's, it became associated with a wave of anti-intellectualism generated in part by the exclusivism of serious (i.e., tao-hsüeh) philosophers, the simultaneous commonization of general learning, and the pretention of would-be intellectuals. Tao-hsüeh then became orthodox in the early 14th century primarily in an effort to reverse this anti-intellectual trend.

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