A Historical Survey on Modernization of Chinese Culture

By Kang, Li; Feng, Mengyan | Asian Social Science, April 2013 | Go to article overview

A Historical Survey on Modernization of Chinese Culture


Kang, Li, Feng, Mengyan, Asian Social Science


Abstract

Modernization of culture is one of the most complicated, profound and obscure issues in human social and historical development and changes. It occupies a core position in the overall layout of Chinese social modernization construction and it prescribes the basic target and development direction of Chinese modernization construction. That is to say, it is an issue about how to realize development of human being and modernization of human being. Thus, it is necessary for us to re-survey the issue of modernization of Chinese culture and reveal the internal mechanism and development rule of modernization of Chinese culture.

Keywords: modernization of culture, historical materialism, internal essence, methodology

Modernization of Chinese culture refers to the historical progress of Chinese national culture stepping towards modernization and it has the national traits and epochal characters. In the meantime, Chinese modernization contains modernization of culture, modernization of economy, modernization of politics, modernization of society and modernization of human being, etc., which mutually distinguish, correlate, promote and develop. The fundamental target of Chinese socialist modernization is to realize modernization of human being, while modernization of human being is manifested as modernization of culture. Hence, modernization of Chinese culture constitutes the basic domain of Chinese socialist modernization. It has strong ideological functions and internally prescribes the basic target and development direction of Chinese modernization. Identification of the issue of modernization of Chinese culture has to "resort to the Chinese society and history itself" and keep a foothold in the narrow level of culture for a scientific explanation to reveal the internal mechanism and development rule of modernization of Chinese culture.

1. The Historical Progress of Modernization of Chinese Culture

Modernization of Chinese culture has, all along, run through Chinese social and historical development. Ever since the Opium War broke through, as a historical topic of social national trait and epochal character in the old China, "emancipation of Chinese people" has been naturally thrown to the Chinese social and historical platform. Thus, the intellectuals in early China threw their eyes onto western developed capitalist countries and learned from and absorbed political culture, economic culture, scientific culture and military culture in western developed countries so as to pull open the historical prelude of modernization of Chinese culture. Nonetheless, as they blindly and indiscriminately imitated the ideological culture of western developed countries and failed to make a critical survey on their culture, this resulted in serious doctrinairism and mechanism and the mistake of historical idealism was made.

The Chinese intellectuals again stirred up a blockbuster of "New Culture Movement", which was also termed as "Cultural Enlightenment" Movement. In light of the western cultural belief crisis triggered by western capitalist countries, the cultural beliefs about people's freedom, equality and universal love they advocated also run up against doubt. In such a backdrop, the Chinese scholar Chen Duxiu proposed "Movement of a large majority of nationals" (Chen Duxiu, 1979, p.16). This, as a matter of fact, indicated that Chinese intellectuals made profound reflections and criticism in the process of exploring a road and mode of "emancipation for Chinese people". That is, China should neither follow the western capitalist cultural road nor choose the Chinese traditionalism cultural road. Instead, China had to adhere to pondering over the issue of modernization of culture by taking into consideration of the Chinese specific realistic situation so as to search for a scientific road and mode of "emancipation for Chinese people". Thus, with dissemination of Marxism idea, Chinese people began to employ Marxism ideas to guide Chinese cultural construction to expedite the historical progress of modernization of Chinese culture. …

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