Daoist Philosophy: Modern Interpretations: Based on Yan Fu, Zhang Taiyan, Liang Qichao, Wang Guowei, and Hu Shi

Contemporary Chinese Thought 30 (1):7-34 (1998)

Abstract

A fundamental way in which human thought has developed has been constantly to explain the earliest "classics" that are the source of that thought. All in all, the number of such classics is not very high, their explanations are past counting. Moreover, they are constantly increasing, giving rise to an explanatory chain deriving from the classics. In the development of Chinese philosophy, this aspect is particularly noticeable, so that one can describe Chinese philosophy as a continual explanation of the classics. This holds for both Confucianism and Daoism. The main classics of Daoism are the Laozi and the Zhuangzi. These two works have been constantly reread and reinterpreted throughout history. From the late nineteenth century onward, Chinese philosophy came into closer contact with Western philosophy. Foreign concepts were brought in to provide philosophers with new "insight." Some thinkers applied this new insight or these foreign concepts to the Daoist classics. In this way, they brought a new explanation of the Daoist classics and enriched the ways of interpreting the texts.1 Paving the way in this direction were Yan Fu. Zhang Taiyan, Liang Qichao, Wang Guowei, and Hu Shi.

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