China from Empire to Nation-State

China from Empire to Nation-State

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China from Empire to Nation-State by Hui Wang

This translation of the introduction to Wang Hui’s Rise of Modern Chinese Thought (2004) makes part of his four-volume masterwork available to English readers for the first time. A leading public intellectual in China, Wang charts the historical currents that have shaped Chinese modernity from the Song Dynasty to the present day, and along the way challenges the West to rethink some of its most basic assumptions about what it means to be modern.

China from Empire to Nation-State exposes oversimplifications and distortions implicit in Western critiques of Chinese history, which long held that China was culturally resistant to modernization, only able to join the community of modern nations when the Qing Empire finally collapsed in 1912. Noting that Western ideas have failed to take into account the diversity of Chinese experience, Wang recovers important strains of premodern thought. Chinese thinkers theorized politics in ways that do not line up neatly with political thought in the West—for example, the notion of a “Heavenly Principle” that governed everything from the ordering of the cosmos to the structure of society and rationality itself. Often dismissed as evidence of imperial China’s irredeemably backward culture, many Neo-Confucian concepts reemerged in twentieth-century Chinese political discourse, as thinkers and activists from across the ideological spectrum appealed to ancient precedents and principles in support of their political and cultural agendas. Wang thus enables us to see how many aspects of premodern thought contributed to a distinctly Chinese vision of modernity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674046955
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 10/14/2014
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 200
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Wang Hui is Professor of Literature and History at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Table of Contents

Translator's Introduction vii

China from Empire to Nation-State 1

1 Two Narratives of China and Their Derivative Forms 3

2 The Empire/Nation-State Binary and European "World History" 30

3 Heavenly Principle/Universal Principle and History 61

4 China's Modern Identity and the Transformation of Empire 101

Notes 147

Index 171

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