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The Studies of Modern New Confucians in Mainland China during the 1980s to 1990s:Researches on Xu Fu-guan as Example
Modern New Confucians
essentiality of Chinese culture
reflections on modernity
As a borrowed phrase, New Confucians in Hong Kong and Taiwan was introduced to Mainland China during the 1980s, rephrased as Modern New Confucians and studied by many scholars. By borrowing the macro-studying perspective from Xu Fuguan’s wholism theory and using the micro-studying method of genealogy from Michel Foucaul, I notice that the process of introducing and studying the borrowed phrase was accompanied by competition for discourse power among different factions of mainland scholars, and between them and those new Confucians based in Hong Kong and Taiwan. During the switch from New Enlightenment movement (Culture Fever) of 1980s to Conservatism tide of 1990s, Modern New Confucians was not just a subject for studying, but also provided certain methodology and knowledge resource for scholars of Mainland China, created a communication channel between these scholars and those abroad, as well as deeply involved in debates during the 1980s and 1990s on China’s transition, and became a vital catalyst which had differentiated intellectual mind of Mainland China. The researches on Modern New Confucians during this period were closely related to three explanatory modes of modern history of thoughts in China, which eventually evolved from enlightenment and salvation to radicalism and conservatism, then finally to reflections on modernity. Tradition and revolution as two indispensable themes of China’s modern history were incessantly explained under different explanatory modes and Modern New Confucians was also illustrated from certain perspective of the leading mode at the time. Xu Fuguan was first introduced to mainland literati as an esthetician. But as a new Confucian who had expounded the political philosophy of Confucianism, Xu Fuguan’s efforts in formulating Confucian as well as liberalist’s social and political philosophy corresponding to the realpolitik are worth researching. As the power of China rises profoundly, constructing the essentiality of Chinese culture accordingly becomes a concerted mission among China’s contemporary intellectuals, which could also be seen as an ideological continuation of the Confucian Orthodoxy of Modern New Confucians. In the 21st century, whether we can build desirable modern Chinese civilization and whether Confucianism can regain its historical status are two facets of the same coin. They need the efforts of Confucian scholars around the world in mediating Li(principle) as well as reaching consensus in Shi(propensity of things).
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