A paradigm shift occurred in Northern Sung dynasty. The Four Books became
more influential than the Five Classics, and Confucius-Yen Huei(孔顏) became higher
valued than Chou-Confucius(周孔). Such a shift was brought up by a new perspective
to examine Nature and Destiny. Confucian scholars in Han and Tang dynasties held a
naturalist’s view of human nature, namely, the Ch’i point of view, which emphasized
political and social orders. Whereas the Neo-Confucian scholars in Sung dynasty
emphasized a transcendental dimension of human nature, attempting to restore the
original nature of human beings. In addition to the theory of human nature,
Neo-Confucians also held the theory of essence and function. The shift of classics, the
shift of sages, and the shift of perspectives held while exploring Nature and Destiny,
composed the characteristics of the Neo-Confucianism. All of these kinds of efforts
were made in order to realize a deeper Self, and to fulfill more profound moral needs.
One of the moral needs was the requirement of metaphysical concerns, therefore, the
exegesis of classics was also emphasized by Neo-Confucianism.