Wang Yang-ming was a Chinese philosopher whose work influenced Ming Dynasty society. His School of Mind taught that all knowledge exists in the mind, and that knowledge contained principles that should be acted upon. Since people have innate knowledge of what is good, the discovery of the innate principles will lead to virtuous action. According to Yang-ming, the best way to discover this intuitive knowledge and principles is through intense thought and meditation.

His message that you could discover the truth by thinking for yourself was not popular with the authorities of the day, who thought that such a philosophy would weaken the impact of their laws. His School of Mind competed with the other philosophies of the time, the School of Learning (empiricism) and the School of Principle (rationalism). The negative aspect of Yang-ming’s philosophy was that its followers tended to believe they should follow all of their natural urges, and this trend weakened the Ming Dynasty.

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