Chinese culture as substance ; Western culture as practice: 十九世纪「中体西用」思想研究
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 03:50 authored by Xiao-lei Chang
Chinese modern history can be thought of as beginning with the Opium War of 1840. The cannons of British warships broke down the closed door of China. Thus began a series of unequal treaties and privileges with the west, such as "Consular Jurisdiction", "Tariff Agreement", "Concession" and "Trading Regulations". Chinese foreign relations came under the so-called "Treaty System". The contrary east and west political systems collided fiercely, bringing five thousand years' of traditional Chinese culture into sharp conflict with modern western capitalistic culture. -- The next seventy years, (the period known as "Chinese Modern History") was marked by both the new and old, the eastern and western. Every Chinese person was faced with the question, "Which way is China to go?" -- The subject of this thesis, "Chinese culture as substance, western culture as practice", is a concept which emerged from the special conditions of this historical environment. The emergence of this thinking produced a cushion effect to the conflict between eastern culture and western culture and permitted Chinese people to conciously approach and absorb western culture, instead of being constrained to accept it. Concurrently, the concept acted as a catalyst at a time when China was shaking off the yoke of feudalism and becoming part of the modern world, holding on to western civilization with one hand and traditional Chinese culture with the other. This further assisted the harmony of the two cultures. -- Did western culture develop from the east, or vice versa? Which is the better culture? Which is likely to dominate? These questions, and many others, are continually discussed in the historical sphere. Many opinions and views have been expressed. My interest of this subject has prompted me to research this aspect of history over recent years. I now present my writings to those who are also interested in the research of east-west culture.