Nature and Nation in Chinese Political Thought

Fa-ti Fan

in The Moral Authority of Nature

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226136806
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226136820 | DOI:
Nature and Nation in Chinese Political Thought

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This chapter examines an influential strand of discourse of Chinese nationalism in the first decade of the twentieth century, whose major voices included some of the foremost political thinkers of the time. It shows how the historical actors defined and redefined history, tradition, and nationhood in relation to the transmutations of the concept of nature. The intense political controversies during that tumultuous decade, in which the nationhood of China was heatedly contested, contributed to the founding of republican China in 1912, but the historical significance of this nationalist discourse was not only political. Activist Chinese intellectuals in the late Qing faced many challenges, not the least that of Western learning. It was a moment in Chinese intellectual history that has been seen as a transition, a response, and a crisis. During the last decades of the nineteenth century, Chinese intellectuals frequently had to revise their conceptual framework and invent new language to accommodate the foreign ideas—an intellectual enterprise full of political implications.

Keywords: Chinese nationalism; political thinkers; nature; nationalist discourse; Western learning; intellectual enterprise

Chapter.  12327 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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