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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics


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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Introduction: H. Gene Blocker 1


Introduction H. Gene Blocker Since around 1800 there has been a general consensus among Western philosophers that there is something called "Chinese philosophy." Of course, Chinese thought systems are much older, dating back to approximately the same time as the emergence of Greek philosophy in the 6th century BC. But it was only toward the end of the 18th century that this ancient thought system, along with ancient Indian thought systems, appeared in the West as something called "philosophy"-that is, labelled and packaged as Chinese (or Indian) philosophy. Naturally, this did not happen all at once, and there are references in Europe to Chinese thought, especially Confucianism, as philosophy (and Kong Zi, or Confucius, himself a<; a philosopher) as early as 1687. But it was not until around 1800 that it became widely accepted in Europe (though not universally-as it is not even today) that the term "philosophy" must be extended to include nonWestern thought systems, in particular Chinese and Indian. And it was not until the great debates of 1922-23, led by Liang Shuming, that Chinese scholars accepted the idea that the Chinese (and Japanese) translation of the Western term "philosophy" should include certain ancient Indian and Chinese writers. When the Japanese introduced Western learning during the Meiji period (at the end of the 19th century), they used pairs of Chinese characters (kanji), which had not been combined in this way before, to translate branches of Western learning-physics, chemistry, zoology, astronomy, and so on, including philosophy. Around 1900...

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