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Reviews 443 Shiping Hua. Scientism and Humanism: Two Cultures in Post-Mao China (1978-1989). Albany: State University ofNewYork Press, 1995. ix, 206 pp. Hardcover $54.50, isbn 0-7914-2421-9. Paperback $17.95, 1SBN 0-7914-2422-7. This book seeks to explain the developments in Chinese political culture since the Cultural Revolution through a coordinated examination of six major thinkers from the People's Republic ofChina (PRC). Professor Hua organizes this study around the twin "cultures" of scientism and humanism represented in the New Thinking popular among intellectuals in the PRC. He accepts that the close study of the writings and activities of "establishment intellectuals" can provide some access to "the political mentality of the average Chinese," since these politically active elite intellectuals "are indeed the voice of society on various levels" (p. 25). As an intellectual historian myself, I have no quibble with this, but others might. The body ofthe book comprises six chapters, presenting the work of each intellectual, with a focus on the 1980s. Hua concludes that even these fine efforts have yet to fill in the intellectual and spiritual void in China left by the Cultural Revolution. After an introductory chapter that seeks to define the key terms and goals of the study, Hua gives a short chapter on the historical origins of this New Thinking —focusing on broad cultural formations: the holistic monism of Chinese tradition and die volunteerism and ethical purism of the Cultural Revolution. Both the introduction and the first chapter are unsatisfying—full of grand claims and abstract "structures." Any one or two ofthe issues raised, if developed soundly, would make a good book: the relationship between elite thought and popular values , specific transformations of Chinese political culture, the sociological role of establishment intellectuals in China, the use of "science" as a ground for truth claims in ideology and philosophy. To do this Hua needs to engage other scholarly studies rather than dismiss them—as he does over the red herring ofwhether or not major studies use the identical meaning of "establishment intellectual" (pp. 25-27). Since most studies do not use the term, this is hardly the sine qua non for theoretical rigor that Hua makes it out to be. Hua's own ideas would have been clearer and more concrete ifhe had wrestled with the content, rather than the terminology, of studies by Merle Goldman, Carol Hamrin and myself, Peter Moody, David Kelly, or James Williams. Where, specifically, does he add to these studies? Presentiy this is not clear. The body of the book contains Hua's strongest contributions. Here six im-© 1997 by University portant contemporary activist-intellectuals are each given a chapter. These are a ofHawai'i Pressset 0fsocial science liezhuan ^iW "arrayed traditions" (bringing to mind the model of exemplary biographies in Sima Qian's famous history, the Shiji).' Each person is presented, as are the individuals and groups in Sima Qian's liezhuan, in 444 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 order to illuminate a valuable point or trend. Thus, Hua creates a matrix of three kinds of humanism and three kinds of scientism: Hu Qiaomu stands in for Marxist scientism, Su Shaozhi for Chinese-style scientism, and Jin Guantao for Western -style scientism (systems theory). While Wang Ruoshui represents Marxist humanism , Li Zehou demonstrates Chinese humanism, and Gan Yang shows us critical humanism. These are all influential intellectuals worthy of study. Hua's general conclusion is not sanguine. Have the efforts of these representatives of the New Thinking succeeded in their own goals? Hua says no. Has science provided a new intellectual rudder for post-Mao China? Hua concludes: "Science as a political symbol has failed to remold the Chinese political culture in the last decade and it is unclear what else can [sic] the Chinese use to do so in the future" (p. 155). The prose throughout the book, as the quote above suggests, is turgid and jargon-filled. (This does not bode well for sales of the paperback edition for classroom use.) Hua confuses taxonomy for analysis. The rigid and complex matrix of categories creates a procrustean bed that cuts short the presentation of each thinker's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 443-445
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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