Chapter 4 Why Did Hu Shi Introduce Deweyan Pragmatism to China as Only a Method?

In: John Dewey and Chinese Education
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Before and during John Dewey’s visit to China, Hu Shi, who was one of the most famous and influential Chinese intellectuals of the time, intensively introduced pragmatism to China. Hu stressed that pragmatism was only “the scientific method applied to philosophy.” This interpretation of Deweyan pragmatism not only caused insufficient understanding and even misunderstandings of Dewey’s philosophy (including his philosophy of education), but has also been considered by many Chinese scholars today as a kind of transformation of Dewey’s pragmatism. This essay explores why Hu introduced Deweyan pragmatism as only a method in China. Hu’s reception and interpretation of Deweyan pragmatism was a complicated process; thus, it must be investigated from Hu’s worldview, the particular sociopolitical context in China at the time as well as his life history. The paper concludes that labeling Hu Shi as an advocator of the total Westernization of China is not accurate.

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  • Introduction A Centennial Reflection on Dewey’s Visit of China


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