The Great Learning [Chinese] (HTML)is the first of the Four books which were selected by Zhu Xi in the Song Dynasty as a foundational introduction to Confucianism. It was originally one chapter in Li Ji (the Classic of Rites). The book consists of a short main text, attributed to Confucius and nine commentaries chapters by Zeng Zi, one of Confucius' disciples. Its importance is illustrated by Zeng Zi's foreward that this is the gateway of learning.
Some of the terms within the text form an important part of both classical and modern Chinese political discourse. For example, the concept of world peace has been the stated goal of Chinese statecraft from the Zhou dynasty to the Kuomintang to the Communist Party of China. Another term used in the text qing-ming which Legge translates as renovating the people is the name of the People First Party, one of the major parties in the Republic of China on Taiwan.
The Great Learning is significant because it expresses many themes of Chinese philosophy and political thinking has therefore been extremely influential both in classical and modern Chinese thought.
The text also sets up a number of controversies that have underlain Chinese philosophy and political thinking. For example, one major controversy has been to define exactly the investigation of things. What things are to be investigated and how has been one of the crucial issues of Chinese philosophy.