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Abstract

The present contribution examines prospect optimism as a political paradigm in Chinese discourses since the end of the 19th century. Prospect optimism rests on the conviction that human agency can determine the course of history, and realize the betterment of human societies. In China, prospect optimism can be traced back to Yan Fu’s early reform discourse and scientism, which entailed a firm belief in progress. The ensuing persistence and pervasiveness of Chinese prospect optimism during the Republican period will be examined across a broad ideological range. In particular, the analysis focuses on ideas of social progress, scientific reason, and expertocratic rule in the thought of Sun Yat-sen, Hu Shi, and Ding Wenjiang. It will be maintained that the idea of expertocracy addressed the widespread disappointment with the failure of republican government after 1912. The expertocratic vision promised, in a highly optimistic manner, a non-violent, “progressive” solution to the alleged national crisis, while at the same time enhancing the political standing of its elitist proponents.

In: Chinese Visions of Progress, 1895 to 1949
In: Chinese Visions of Progress, 1895 to 1949
In: Tang Junyi
In: Tang Junyi
In: Tang Junyi
In: Tang Junyi
In: Tang Junyi
In: Tang Junyi