The Liberal Teachings of the Young Liang Qichao


Abstract
During the period of the Wushu "Hundred-Days" Reform, modern Chinese philosophy stepped into the stage of development characterized by the growth and spread of the theory of evolution and of humanism. Kang Youwei, Yan Fu, Tan Sitong, and Liang Qichao were the representative figures of this stage. At the time, with a tremendous flair for vivid and persuasive writing, the young Liang Qichao broke through the bonds of feudal autocracy with the ideas of humanism, used "liberty" to oppose "slavishness," and, by approaching the exploration of the meaning of "the freedom of self from the angle of new epistemology and new ethics, Liang played a major role and exerted a widespread influence on his countrymen in their intellectual emancipation. As he himself once said: "It can be said of Liang Qichao that he was the Chen She in the new intellectual circles." [Chen She, alias Chen Sheng, the famous rebel who started the peasant uprising against the Qin dynasty.—Trans.] Indeed, we may say that such a moniker would be quite appropriate for the Liang Qichao before 1903 ; it would be a title that the young Liang richly deserved. As we review the liberal ideas and teachings of the young Liang Qichao even today, as we reacquaint ourselves with his writings of this early period, such as Lun ziyou shu and Xin min shuo , we would still find among the words of these works a rich and overflowing sense of vitality and freshness, a feeling that there is much here for our enlightenment
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DOI 10.2753/csp1097-1467220132
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