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Du Yaquan's Discourse on Civilization: Negotiating an Ethical Vision Between East and West
|Keywords:||杜亞泉 ; 文明論 ; 東西二元論 ; 倫理視域 ; 社會主義 |
Du Yaquan ; discourse on civilization ; the East-West binary ; ethical vision ; socialism
|Issue Date:||2020-10-12 09:54:59 (UTC+8)|
Around the turn of the 20^(th) century, as a result of the intrusion of Western powers and the ensuing changes of East Asian geopolitics, the problematiques of inter-civilizational encounters and differences began to capture the attention of many Chinese intellectuals. This article explores the historical formation of Du Yaquan's (1873-1929) discourse on civilization as it unfolded in the first two decades of the 20^(th) century. It also explains how, within the comparative framework between Eastern and Western civilizations, Du considered many topics on various aspects of human lives, and placed an emphasis on the ethical vision which informed his search for an ideal civilization and a new mode of human life. Analytically speaking, Du's discourse can be divided into three dimensions: an inquiry into the principles of civilizational evolution from a cosmic perspective; a typology of civilization predicated on the East-West binary and a reflection on the modern industrial capitalism and projection of a new civilization for the 20^(th) century. The first dimension constituted the foundation of the other two. It featured a harmonizing mode of thinking which also shaped the whole discourse. The article argues that Du's harmonizing mode of thinking was a modern variation of the traditional idea of yin-yang harmonization. It gave rise to a rationalist stance that assumed continuity between reason and experience, creation and carrying forward traditions. Consequently, Du advocated a theory of reconciling Eastern and Western civilizations in order to invent a new civilization for the 20^(th) century. As such, the theory could not be reduced to a product of identity politics, but had deep roots in a particular worldview and understanding of history. It also illustrated profound ethical issues concerning universal value and choices confronting the modern world. In the final analysis, at the core of Du's discourse was an ethical vision that posed a direct challenge against the predominant intellectual orientation geared toward the ＂search for wealth and power.＂ Du considered this orientation, along with the Sino-Japanese War and the First World War, as problem integral to modern industrial capitalism. His challenge also constituted a response to certain prevailing problems of the modern world. On the other hand, Du compared and contrasted the Eastern and Western civilizations to envisage a new civilization for the 20^(th) century, with a view to restore harmonic unity between the human heart/mind and material objects, among the individuals in society, and between humans and the outer world. The article shows how Du's critical consciousness was subsumed under a rationalist principle of prudence which emphasized historical continuity, and thus paved his way toward a non-revolutionary transition to socialism.
|Relation:||政大中文學報, 32, 229-280|
|Appears in Collections:||[政大中文學報 THCI Core] 期刊論文|
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