Reflections on the Thought of Liang Shuming: Report on the International Conference [on Modern Chinese Thought] in Celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Teaching and Research of Liang Shuming
- Republican China
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 14, Number 1, November 1988
- pp. 93-98
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Reflections on the Thought of Liang Shuming: Report on the International Conference [on Modern Chinese Thought] in Celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Teaching and Research of Liang Shuming Lin Yfi-sheng The Academy of Chinese Culture, Beijing, founded in 1984 by 1eadi ng figures in"' the Chinese humanities, Liang Shuming, Feng Youlan (Fung Yu-lan), Zhang/Dainian, Li Zehou, Tang Yijie, etc. is the first officially approved private educational and research institution in China. The Academy's autonomy of administration and finance is a new feature on the scene of China's education and higher learning. During October 30 - November 2, 1987, the Academy of Chinese Culture under the leadership of its president, Professor Tang Yijie of Peking University, convened an International Research Conference [on Modern Chinese Thought] to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the teaching and research of Liang Shuming on the occasion of the 95th birthday (Chinese reckoning) of this man of great moral and intellectual stature. Before his death in 1988, Liang Shuming was the only surviving major figure of the "teacher generation" of the May Fourth intelligentsia in China in the late 80 •s. About 70 people participated, 12 were from overseas. Owing largely to the character of its organizer, ceremony was kept at a minimum, while free exchange of ideas and spirited debates were taken for granted at the conference held at the Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing. The following is a list of the major papers read and discussed at the Conference: Bao Zunxin, "Confucian Ethics and the Four Little Dragons in Asia: A Refutation of the Theory of Conf~cian Renaissance" Chen Fangzheng, "Confucian Thought and the Spirit of•Science" Guo Qiyong, "An Analysis of Liang Shuming' s Mode of Comparative Study of Cultures" Guo Zhengchen, "An Attempted Road for Saving China: ~, Critique of the Movement of Rural Reconstruction in Zouping" Jin Chunfeng, "The Thought of Liang Shuming and New Confucianism" 93 Li Hongqi, "Begil'ming from the Keen Intuition--A Discussion of the Problems of 'Intellect' in Intellectual History" Lin YU-sheng, "Hu Shi 's critique of Liang Shuming's Eastern and Western Cultures and Their Philosophies and Liang Shuming' s Response: ~Study of Their Historical Implication" Catherine Lynch, "Psyche and Community in Liang Shuming's Thought" Pang Pu, "The Problem of National Character in Culture" Qu Yangqing, "A Discussion of Liang Shuming' s Rural Reconstruction Movemen~ from the Viewpoint of Peasant Responses" Hiroko Sakamoto, "A Tentative Discussion of Liang Shuming's National Philosophy" Wang Zhongyu, "Orl' Liang Shuming' s Attitudes toward Science and Metaphysics" The papers can roughly be classified into two groups which correspond to two major areas of Liang's intellectual .and social activities : (1) his cultural philosophy and its historical and contemporary significance; (2) his rural reconstruction program and the social and historical implications of its failure. All of the writers in the first group found some discrepancies in Liang's thought. Rather than at tr ibut ing them to a lack of clarity in Liang's mind, they are understood primarily as reflections of a monistic or holist"ic culture in profound crisis in which Liang had been deeply involved. Guo Qiyong points out that Liang does not agree with Feng Youlan is notion that the difference between China and the West is due not so much to the inherent qualities of the respective cultures as to the different times in which they found themselves. According to Feng, China is behind the West because China has not entered the industrial age; time-lag has made the difference , not 0 thfi quality of culture. Liang, however, argues that China's difference from the West lies precisely in her particular culture, which is "superior" in its essence but whose inversion has given rise to the many problems in her recent times. "But if the essence of Chinese cui ture, generically distinct from that of the West, is the moving force of Chinese history," asks Guo, 'with what resources can China employ to adapt to modern Western mode of democratic and sci-entific life, 0 which Liang has also advocated?" Other papers also give evidence to the dilemma in which Liang found himself . In Wang Zongyu 's paper...