Birgit N. Schlyter
The first chapter introduces the topic of the book along with its sources, methodology, and analytical concepts. The book’s main thesis is that public discourse in China was transformed in a major way during the period 1895–1925, resulting in the rise of a reductionist kind of argumentation that made extensive use of -isms, a type of concept that was created in Chinese based on Japanese and Western models, expressed as words ending in -zhǔyì (‘-ism’). From the start Chinese -isms played an important role in the mapping of the new intellectual landscape, but over the years the ideological dimension of Chinese -isms became dominant. Chinese -isms thus ended up playing an important role historically, as society itself underwent a profound reorganization along ideological lines in the 1920s. In order to explore this topic, articles from the reformist and revolutionary press in late Qing and early Republican China have been chosen as primary sources. The Introduction discusses the analytical concepts of ‘ideology’, ’keyword’, ‘key concept, ‘ismatic concept’, and so forth, as well the relationship between language, concepts and ideology.