Feng Youlan and Twentieth Century China

An Intellectual Biography


This is an intellectual biography of Feng Youlan [Fung Yu-lan] (1895-1990), one of the preeminent Chinese philosophers of the 20th century. Feng’s life very well captured the vicissitudes of twentieth-century Chinese politics and scholarship. He made his name in the 1930s and ’40s with a path-breaking approach to Chinese philosophy. And he was one of the few prominent pre-1949 non-Communist Chinese scholars who attempted to influence Chinese society with prolific publications after 1949. This monograph explores Feng Youlan’s work and the trajectory of changes in Feng’s philosophical outlook against the social and political contexts of Feng’s life from the 1920s to 1990. Feng’s search for a framework of Chinese philosophy that is open and connected to foreign learning, and a framework of self-cultivation that is open to outside ideas, continues to be important goals for Chinese philosophy today.

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Xiaoqing Diana Lin, Ph.D. (University of Chicago, 1993), is an Associate professor of history at Indiana University Northwest. She has written on Chinese cultural and intellectual history, including: Peking University: Chinese Scholarship and Intellectuals, 1898–1937 (SUNY, 2005).
Chapter 1 Finding Common Ground for Chinese and Western Philosophy
Chapter 2 Building a Metaphysical System of Philosophy in China, 1930s–1940s
Chapter 3 Feng Youlan and Dialectical and Historical Materialism, 1930s–1950s
Chapter 4 From “Abstract Inheritance” to Complete Social Contextualization: 1960s–1970s
Chapter 5 Philosophy as Exploration of New Knowledge
Epilogue: Feng Youlan and China’s Search for Tradition in the Late Twentieth Century
Upper class undergraduates and graduate students of Chinese history and philosophy; general audience who are familiar with Feng Youlan’s philosophy.