Bertrand Russell, Fu Tong, and the Emergence of Scientific Secularism in Early 1920s China


In: Review of Religion and Chinese Society
Jan Vrhovski Department of Asian studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana Ljubljana Slovenia

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In the May Fourth period (1917–1921), the Chinese intellectual world saw the emergence of various forms of secularism, which culminated around the year 1922, when a nationwide non-religious movement was formed. The Western-educated philosopher Fu Tong influenced and contributed to the discourse on science and religion in the early 1920s, and his philosophy of religion served as a conduit for the introduction of Bertrand Russell’s ideas about religion into Chinese public and intellectual discourses. This article establishes a connection between Fu and the lectures on religious belief that Russell delivered in Peking in January 1921 and documents the transfer of ideas from Russell to Fu’s philosophical writings on religion between 1921 and 1922. In its central analysis, the article focuses on Fu’s philosophy of religion and his theory of scientific secularism, which he developed as a critique of the Marxist-led non-religious movement from 1922 onward. The discussion also sheds light on the network of intellectual connections underlying the emergence of the notion of scientific secularism in 1920s China.


在五四運動時期(1917年–1921年),中國知識界注意到社會上出現了各種形式的科學現世主義,這種現象在1922年左右達到了高潮,在當時的社會形成了全國性的非宗教運動。受西方教育影響的中國哲學家傅銅在二十世紀20年代初期影響並推動了關於科學和宗教的論述,他的宗教哲學為將波特蘭·羅素(Bertrand Russell)的宗教思想引入中國公衆和知識界提供了渠道。本文建立了傅銅與1921年1月羅素在北京發表的有關宗教信仰的演講之間的聯係,並記錄了自1921至1922年間羅素的宗教思想向傅銅的宗教哲學著作轉移的過程。本篇文章將着眼於傅銅的宗教哲學及其科学現世主義理論,這些思想是他針對1922年以後受馬克思主義領導的非宗教運動的批評。本論述也將闡明在二十世紀20年代中國出現科學現世主義概念背後的知識網絡體系。

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