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  • Author or Editor: Qiong Zhang x
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Qiong Zhang

Abstract

This paper proposes an alternative to the conventional paradigm of "cultural accommodation" as a key to the understanding of the Jesuit scheme of conversion in late Ming China. It challenges one of the corollaries of that paradigm, which holds that because of the paramount rationalist sensibilities of the Confucian élite, the Jesuit missionaries refrained from speaking about the mysteries and supernatural truths of Christianity. In this paper, it is instead argued that the Jesuits, rather than trying to cultivate a rational spirit in China, were primarily engaged in fashioning a new religious cult(ure) which centered upon the supreme efficacy of the Christian faith in exorcising demons and performing miracles and was of central importance to the religious conquest of territories formerly held by their indigenous rivals. It is further shown that it is this preoccupation at the same time motivated and delimited the Jesuits' campaign against Chinese religions and the introduction of Western science and learning and resulted in the application of double standards and in ambiguities and contradictions in their scientific writings.

Qiong Zhang

Abstract

This paper explores the dynamics of cultural interactions between early modern China and Europe initiated by the Jesuits and other Catholic missionaries through a case study of Wang Honghan, a seventeenth-century Chinese Catholic who systematically sought to integrate European learning introduced by the missionaries with pre-modern Chinese medicine. Focusing on the ways in which Wang combined his Western and Chinese sources to develop and articulate his views on xin (mind and heart), this paper argues that Wang arrived at a peculiar hybrid between scholastic psychology and Chinese medicine, not so much through a course of haphazard misunderstanding as through his conscious and patterned use and abuse of his Western sources, which was motivated most possibly by a wish to define a theoretical position that most suited his social roles as a Catholic convert and a Chinese medical doctor. Thus, rather than seeing Wang as an epitome of "transmission failure," this paper offers it as a showcase for the tremendous dynamism and creativity occurring at this East-West "contact zone" as representatives of both cultures sought to appropriate and transform the symbolic and textual resources of the other side.

Qiong Zhang

Abstract

The cult of the dragon in China, which expressed itself not only in the ritual sacrifices to the dragon kings during drought and floods but also in the rationalization of the dragon's power to make rain by many serious thinkers from diverse intellectual persuasions, was first subjected to sustained criticism during the early modern era as part of an "enlightenment" drive against popular cults and "superstitions" led by some of the Jesuit-inspired Chinese scholars. This paper examines how these critics drew on Aristotelian conceptions of nature and meteorological theories introduced by the Jesuit missionaries to attack the core ideas of the traditional dragon lore and their underlying cosmology. It argues that the de-animated and rigidly stratified view of nature articulated by this small but clearly discernable group of Chinese critics can be seen as marking the beginning of the decline of the dragon, the allegedly semi-divine aquatic animal which swims, walks, flies, and makes rain.