Guest Editor's Introduction

Contemporary Chinese Thought 31 (3):3-4 (2000)
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In recent years there has been an increase in the number of publications in the field of intellectual history in the People's Republic of China. Some are devoted to one particular thinker, others to one specific piece of writing, while still others attempt to give a more general history of, for instance, late imperial or early twentieth-century thought. In general, studies of Confucian intellectual history have tended to avoid the classification of thinkers in terms of "materialists," "idealists," or other Marxist labels, but still they share a common characteristic with regard to their analysis and description of the historical development of Confucian thought. Their method of "chronological serialization" presents this development as a single linear process consisting of different phases of knowledge which successively follow one after the other and are separated by historical "incidents." This approach is not typically modern, since it can be traced back to, for instance, Liang Qichao's "Introduction to Fifty Years of Progress in China" , in which he explicates his analysis of three successive reforms—material, institutional, cultural—in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, also known as the "three-phases theory."



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