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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics

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Edited By Zhu Liyuan and Gene Blocker

This book is a collection of translations of recent work by contemporary Chinese aestheticians. Because of the relative isolation of China until recently, little is known of this rich and ongoing aesthetics tradition in China. Although some of the articles are concerned with the traditional ancient Chinese theories of art and beauty, many are inspired by Western aesthetics, including Marxism, and all are involved in cross-cultural comparisons of Chinese and Western aesthetic traditions.

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Preface vii

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Preface Cross-cultural understanding is as important as it is difficult to achieve. This is especially true for the mutual understanding of the peoples of China and the Western world. Because of the relative isolation of China from the West, roughly from 1950 until the end of the Cultural Revolution around 1978, Chinese and Western peoples, and even intellectuals, are badly out of touch with one another. This is especially true of the kind of thinking which infonns the humanities. Unlike areas within the natural sciences, humanistic studies can develop along very different lines in different parts of the world at different times, and unless a positive effort is made to keep avenues of communication open, we lose touch with even the main trends in the humanistic thought in different parts of the world (and vice versa). This is all the more troubling considering the important role humanistic studies normally play in defining, shaping and articulating the more general aspirations and conceptual orientation of different national and regional groups. This is especially pertinent in light of recent developments in China. Part of the general pattern of change taking place in China today are some very far-ranging changes in the area of humanistic studies. This is in fact an extremely dynamic period in Chinese thought concerning the problem of civilization and culture change. Beyond a small group of Asian specialists, who are literate in both Chinese and English, such cross-cultural understanding is possible only through mutual translation, not only of traditional classics,...

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