China Seminar 2016-2017 19 October
From 15.15-17.00 in Vrieshof 3 – Verbarium, Leiden University, Witte Singel 25, Leiden. All are welcome.
Evolution and Ethics and the Transformation of Knowledge in Modern China
Professor Max. K. W. Huang
Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Yan Fu’s Theory of Natural Evolution, a translation of Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics, was an important work and famous for its inaccuracy. It was widely read and encouraged Chinese people to understand natural evolution to strengthen themselves and to save their race. In this talk I will analyze the features of this Chinese translation and its impact on knowledge transformation in modern China. Yan’s translation was strongly influenced by his prior study of The Book of Changes and Xunzi. Yan emphasized the importance of ethical values in the process of evolution. He criticized Spencer for overemphasizing natural evolution at the expense of moral autonomy, and established a link between his emphasis on ethics, individual freedom, and Huxley’s theory of social cooperation. In this way, Yan’s understanding of evolution placed equal emphasis on self and group and led to an accommodative approach to policy and cultural reform. His ideas influenced both revolutionaries and constitutionalists in the late Qing, as well as liberals and New-Confucians in the Republican period. Moreover, Yan’s view of natural evolution along with his other translations of J. S. Mill, Adam Smith and Herbert Spencer led to the widespread adoption of a linear view of historical studies, as well as the rise of sociology, economics, political sciences, and religious studies in Modern China.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Max K. W. Huang was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1957. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in History from Nation Taiwan Normal University. He subsequently pursued his studies in the United Kingdom and the United States, receiving a second master’s degree from Oxford University and his Ph. D degree from Stanford University. He is a distinguished research fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. His major fields are Ming-Qing studies and Modern Chinese intellectual history. He has published six books and more than 80 articles. Dr. Huang’s most recent book is If It’s not Dirty, It’s No Joke: Humor, Desire, and the Body in the World of Modern Chinese Masculinity. His latest book is Government and Politics in Taiwan (Rouledge, 2011). He has a new co-edited volume titled Migration to and from Taiwan (Routledge, 2014).
黃克武博士1957年生於臺灣臺北，臺灣師範大學歷史學系學士、碩士，英國牛津（University of Oxford, U.K.）大學東方系碩士（1989），美國史丹佛（Stanford University, USA）大學歷史系博士（2001）。現任中央研究院近代史研究所特聘研究員。研究領域為明清史、中國近代思想史。主要著作：《一個被放棄的選擇：梁啟超調適思想之研究》（1994）、《自由的所以然：嚴復對約翰彌爾自由思想的認識與批判》（1998）、The Meaning of Freedom: Yan Fu and the Origins of Chinese Liberalism（2008），《惟適之安：嚴復與近代中國的文化轉型》（2010），《近代中國的思潮與人物》（2013），《言不褻不笑：近代中國男性世界中的諧謔、情慾與身體》（2016），以及有關明清文化史、嚴復、梁啟超、胡適、蔣中正等之學術論文八十餘篇。