Sources of Chinese Tradition - Vol. 1

Sources of Chinese Tradition - Vol. 1

Sources of Chinese Tradition - Vol. 1

Sources of Chinese Tradition - Vol. 1

Excerpt

This book represents the last in a series dealing with the civilizations of China, Japan, and India. It contains source readings that tell us what the Chinese have thought about themselves, the universe they lived in, and the problems they faced living together. It is meant to provide the general reader with an understanding of the background of Chinese civilization, especially as this is reflected in intellectual and religious traditions which have survived into modern times. Much attention is also given, however, to political and social questions which the ordinary history of philosophy or religion would not treat. Indeed, as compared to Japan and India, the dominant traditions of Chinese thought have been less markedly religious in character, there being a noticeable disjunction between the popular practice of religion and the intellectual activity of the ruling elite, which had a more secular orientation. To compensate somewhat for this relative neglect of religious matters by the articulators and preservers of formal tradition, the Appendix in Volume II is devoted to popular religious movements and secret societies.

As in the other volumes of this series, the readings are drawn from contemporary literature as well as classical. Since in the modern period the urgency of political and social problems has been uppermost in the minds of educated Chinese, it is natural that such tendencies as reformism, nationalism, liberalism, and Communism should be the center of attention in contemporary writings. If this means that other currents of thought -- the influence of Western religions, formal philosophy, and art -- are inadequately represented, we can only regret that a survey which spans so many centuries allows less scope than one might want for dealing with the variety of thought in any given period -- with significant undercurrents and counter trends, or with distinctive individual contributions which nonetheless had little general influence. We have striven for variety . . .

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