Together with the reformer Liang Qichao, he believed that the scholars of the early Qing dynasty, such as Gu Yanwu , Huang Zongxi , and Dai Zhen , best represented the scientific tradition. In their view, these scholars had used empirical methods in their research on history, philology and phonetics that could easily match Western sciences. A second example was Ding Wenjiang , the well-known geologist who had studied in London and had been Director-General of Greater Shanghai in thes.
Ding regarded the famous geographer Xu Xiake and his research as a precedent of modern Western geography.
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Whether Hu, Liang and Ding were right in their assumption does not matter here. Among the adherents of Westernisation were Chen Xujing ? Germany was not perceived as belonging to the West. In their search for ideological allies against the West, the Confucians of the s and s looked above all to Germany whereas the Chinese communists looked to Russia, and the liberals to America.
They hoped to revive the Confucian and spiritual tradition by integrating German metaphysics, primarily the philosophy of Kant, Hegel and Fichte. German idealistic philosophy and Chinese philosophy should unite against Western civilisation.
The Chinese translation was published on the occasion of Japan's occupation of Manchuria. After the establishment of the new Chinese central state, Marxism-Leninism, in combination with the thought of Mao Zedong, became the new state-orthodoxy. The new political class legitimised its claim to absolute power by Marxism-Leninist doctrine. The Party tried to eradicate Western influence with the exception of the natural sciences and Marxism.
However, the Party obviously failed in its attempts to impose a cultural and national identity based on communist ideology upon the Chinese people. It was characterised by three important developments:. Since then, numerous studies on Confucianism and Taoism have been published. More than scientists and adherents of Confucianism came together, some even from Taiwan. This happened only three months after the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement.
Obviously, the adherents of Confucianism were not offended by the suppression of the student movement. For the Chinese Communist Party, the revival of Confucianism in the s served a dual purpose. It puts the interests of the group above the interests of the individual, and thus helps to promote social harmony and stability. At the same time, Confucianism can help to provide people with some sort of national identity and to defend Chinese culture against the so-called threat of Westernisation.
One example is the re-evaluation of former national heroes such as Zeng Guofan , the governor-general and first moderniser; Li Hongzhang , the second great moderniser; Lin Zexu , who drove the British out of Canton; Guo Songtao , the first ambassador to Britain; and even General Yue Fei , a national hero of the Southern Song Dynasty.
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I will focus here on Zeng only. In , a three-volume historical novel about Zeng was published and reprinted 19 times within two years, with more than two million copies sold. An encyclopaedia of Zeng Guofan was published in , and the number of articles and books about him is rising. Moreover, his modernisation policy allegedly only served Western interests. Firstly, he was a great moderniser and reformer, not a revolutionary. Secondly, his modernisation policy was based on Confucianism. Thirdly, he defeated the Taipings once regarded as the precursors of the Chinese communist revolution , who were Christians a Western religion , and had attacked Confucianism.
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Finally, he defeated a political movement that was based on the peasantry. Zeng thus becomes a symbol of resistance against Westernisation from the outside and revolution from the inside. As a result, Marxist-Leninist historiography seems to be in retreat. The rehabilitation of Zeng puts into question the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party as a representative of the peasantry and the proletariat.
The self-image of the Chinese Communist Party is here at stake. Chinese linguists, such as Shen Xiaolong, Xu Jialu, Ji Jin, and Xiao Tianzhu, even claim that ideographs are superior to phonetic scripts and that Chinese is not only the clearest and most concise language in the world, but also the easiest to learn. They also claim that Chinese grammar is the closest to mathematics and may be the best international language. They have been the two regions of the Chinese-speaking world that have had the fastest modernisation in Asia apart from Japan.
The old characters may not have promoted modernisation, but they have definitely not been an obstacle to it. They have also not been an obstacle to alphabetisation and character learning, as the literacy rate is still higher in Taiwan and Hong Kong than it is on the Chinese mainland.
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Secondly, neither Taiwan nor Hong Kong, nor overseas Chinese communities, will stop using traditional Chinese characters in the future. Communication and cultural identity building have now become more complicated due to two different character systems. Thirdly, to build a genuine cultural and national identity, there is no way of getting around the old characters when dealing with historical documents and reading the classics.
Following the opening up of the country, Chinese intellectuals started translating numerous philosophical books and articles on Western philosophy into Chinese and published an even greater number of their own studies on this topic. There now exists for the first time statistical material about Chinese publications on Western philosophy over a period of 11 years They include more than four hundred and fifty translations of books, approximately seven hundred translations of articles, and approximately six hundred and fifty books and eight thousand articles by Chinese authors.
The titles can be further divided into three hundred and fifty general introductions and textbooks, nearly seven hundred studies of comparative philosophy China and the West , three hundred and fifty studies of aesthetics, more than three hundred and twenty of ethics, and around four hundred and fifty of the philosophy of science and technology, to name only the largest groups. The figures look even more impressive if one bears in mind that only titles on Western Marxism have been included i.
German philosophy accounts for a large share, with about one-third of the titles. Still on top between and is Hegel with more than four hundred and sixty titles, followed by Kant , Heidegger , Nietzsche , Sartre , Popper , Aristotle , Husserl 95 , Wittgenstein 93 , Plato 87 , Hume 84 , Schopenhauer 82 , Rousseau 79 , Habermas 68 , and Gadamer All figures refer to the period to There are studies alone of the differences between Western and Chinese philosophy. Some focus on the general differences between the two philosophies and cultures.
Several studies investigate the differences between Heidegger and Zhuang Zi. The overarching ideology of all of these aspects is nationalism and national identity. Hence, I would like to make a few comments on Chinese nationalism here. Whereas Western nationalism comprised, at least in its origins, the ideas of individual liberty and rational cosmopolitanism that were current in the eighteenth century, the emerging nationalism in Asia tended towards a different development.
Dependent upon, and opposed to, influences from without, this new nationalism was characterised by an inferiority complex that was often compensated for by over-emphasis and over-confidence. As Kohn rightly observed:. National leaders, such as Sun Yat-sen in China, Nehru in India, and Sokarno in Indonesia, developed their concepts of national identity out of a struggle against Western and Japanese imperialism. Originally, it was a movement to get rid of the Manchus and went back to the seventeenth century, when Ming loyalists such as Gu Yenwu , Huang Zongxi , and Wang Fuzhi continued to fight against the newly established Qing dynasty According to Sun, the blood relationship is the most important power that constitutes the Chinese nation.
Sun also stated that Chinese culture was superior to Western civilisation, but, at the same time, he strongly emphasised the necessity of adopting Western science and political institutions. On the contrary, the nation was based on classes class nation , 31 the peasantry, the proletariat and the petty and national bourgeoisie. Step by step, the Party began to reinstate Chinese culture as an element of Chinese nationalism, together with ethnic aspects and Confucian ideology. The embattled Party searched for a new legitimisation and developed a two-pronged approach.
First, the Party insisted that patriotism and socialism could not be separated. Events, such as the Taiwan crisis and strained relations with the United States and Japan, played a catalytic role in this debate, as they helped to divert attention from the real issue of political modernisation to ethnic nationalist emotions. A brief look at Chinese history reveals that racist thinking has never been foreign to Chinese politics. The list of racial stereotypes used by Chinese scholars since the nineteenth century is long.
However, one should always take into consideration that this terminology was strongly influenced by European ideas. Racism in Europe was in vogue at the beginning of the twentieth century, and Chinese intellectuals were by no means alone in applying racial terms and theories. They took them from the West. Sautman has collected statements by high-ranking Chinese communist cadres that obviously reveal racial thinking.
Han and Tibetans are regarded as parts of a common race, and the early historical Tibetan and Yellow River cultures are regarded as identical. Tibetans allegedly belong to the Chinese nation through this blood relationship. Instead, as Gladney has argued 39 , one can observe the fragmentation of Chinese identity, even among the Han majority, and the emergence of various regional identities and national movements in the Chinese-speaking area. Popular autonomous nationalism, which emerged in the s and surfaced in various autonomous demonstrations against the United States and Japan [, ] and publications.
The second option seems to be more likely.
Tibetan and Uighur nationalisms, which became stronger in the s. Both are ethnic and religious movements. The second is clearly ethnic and religious, either demanding autonomous rights guaranteed under the Constitution or even independence. Taiwanese nationalism. The rehabilitation of Taiwanese culture has favoured the cultural identity of the Taiwanese and has supported the rise of Taiwanese nationalism in the s.
Though the ethnic aspect is very strong, the synthesis of ethnic and democratic concepts has created a civic and liberal type of nationalism in a Chinese-speaking area for the first time, which could be a model for the Chinese mainland too. Democratic nationalism, which is clearly underdeveloped on the mainland. There are a few scholars who favour democratic nationalism and the introduction of a democratic regime in China, such as Wu Guoguang, Ding Xueliang and Zheng Yongnian, but none of them teaches on the mainland.
This is one of the most positive aspects of this period. For the first time since , Chinese people on the mainland have had the chance to develop their own identity by immersing themselves in their own culture and simultaneously adapting to modernity. Are they indicators of a desirable democratisation of Chinese society in all areas? As desirable as this would be, skepticism is yet called for, as the following observations show. One can observe the build-up of two main positions, both of which might become the dominating political movements in the future and both of which to a certain extent refer to traditions in Chinese thought.