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Volume V1 Chinese Republican Studies Number 2 February, 1981 I Newsletter 1 $4.50 annually . Publisher I ~----------------------~1 Advisory and Contributing Editorial Board Editor Center for Asian Studies University of Illinois· 1208 West California Urbana,ll61801 David G. Strand Dickinson College Carlisle, PA 17013 Uoyd Eastman, Edward Friedman Barry Keenan, Herman Mast Ill James Sheridan, lyman Van Slyke Subscriptions and back issues Comments and manuscripts Issues in October and February SCIENCE AND SCIENTISTS IN REPUBLICAN CHINA David Reynolds. University-or Wisconsin-}fudison. Recent developments in the People's Republic have underscored the importance of science in modern Chinese history. I have in mind the "Four Modernizations11 which has at its center the modernization of science and teclmology, the attempts by the Chinese to create an intellectual and institutional environment in which science can flourish, and the dispatch of students abroad for advanced training and research. This interest in science is not new. It has deep roots in modern Chinese history extending back to the self-strengthening mOVement Of the late ChI ing and the efforts of Chinese scientists in the Republic to form a scientific community. In this note I want to suggest some of the ways in which the study of science in the Republican period might be pursued and to suggest some of the reasons why echolaxs this period should take note of science. Conventional Wisdom ~ ~ Existing Literature While it would be an overstatement to suggest that historians of Republican China have ignored science, it is not, however, an overstatement to suggest that our appreciation of science in the Republic has been, until quite recently, rather limited. The existing literature leaves one with the impression that Chinese scientists accomplished very little either as individual researchers en~d in doing science or as colleagues involved in building a new profession. Even more devastating is the conventional view that few Chinese scientists TABLE .Q! CON'tENTS SCIENCE .lND SCIEN'f!STS IN REPO:BLICAN CHINA David Reynolds••••••••••••l ~ IN CHINA RE5EARCH John Israe1•••••••••••••••7 URB.lN-RURA.L Nm'WORKS Susan Mann Jones•••••••••14 THE FICTION. OF CHIN SHOSHIN Joshua A. Fogel••••••••••17 COMMENT Chun-tu BSueh••••••••••••19 2 properly understood their subject. This latter claim has taken several forms. First, there is the argument that the Chinese have persistently denigrated science to the status of a mere implement. It is rather commonplace to observe, as de Tocqueville once did of the early .American republic, that the Chinese have shown considerably less interest in the basic sciences, or pure science, than they have in the application of science. According to this point of view, the Chinese have often confused science with technology, the products of science with science itself, and have not demonstrated a marked interest in science apart from its relationship to teChnological, economic, and military development. The second form this has taken involves the notion of "scientism"the attribution of false or unwarranted power and influence to science. In the words of Danny Kwok, the leading student of this phenomenon in China, scientism is "the tendency to use the respectability of science in areas that have little bearing on science itself." In this view science, or more precisely, "scientism" was for Chinese in the Republic an "ideological entity" which had profound iconoclastic implications. Science provided standards by which Chinese tradition could be judged and found wanting. Science functioned as a "substitute religion" or a new "ideology" (in Geertz1 sense of ideology as a cultural system) capable of replacing a discredited Confucianism. Another, closely related approaCh suggests that Chinese in the Republican period saw science mainly as a symbol of modern!ty. Science and democracy-"Mr. Science" and ''Mr. Democracy"-are taken, in this view, to be lh!, values of the llew Culture Movement. Indeed, one is left with the impression that a committment to science necessarily implied a total committment to New Culture values and that the concept of science was a creature of the New Culture Movement. Finally, Thomas Metzger, in his provocative study of Chinese political culture and modernization, argues that science and technology (along with modern forms of political organization) offered modem Chinese an "escape from predicament ." Nee-Confucianism demanded that...


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