The Chinese Renaissance

The Chinese Renaissance

The Chinese Renaissance

The Chinese Renaissance

Excerpt

These lectures were delivered in July, 1933, as the Haskell Lectures of the Department of Comparative Religion in the University of Chicago. The original title of the series was Cultural Trends in Presentday China." With the exception of slight changes in the language, the lectures are now published as they were delivered. My original plan to expand them with greater details and fuller documentation has not been carried out, partly because of a lack of time during my very brief visit to this continent, and partly because of a desire expressed by several friends who heard the lectures that I should not change their familiar and direct form of communication.

These lectures are primarily historical. They are intended to describe, in the first place, how certain phases of Chinese culture have been changed; and, second, to explain how those changes have taken the particular course and form they have taken. Both the description and the explanation are historical. If I have any thesis to present, I want my readers to understand that cultural changes of tremendous significance have taken place and are taking place in China, in spite of the absence of effective leadership and centralized control by a ruling class, and in spite of the deplorable necessity of much undermining and erosion before anything could be changed. What pessimistic observers have lamented as the collapse of Chinese civilization, is exactly the necessary undermining and erosion without which there could not have been the rejuvenation of an old civilization. Slowly, quietly, but unmistakably, the Chinese Renaissance is becoming a reality. The product of this rebirth looks suspiciously occidental. But, scratch its surface and you will find that the stuff of which . . .

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