Gu Hongming compares Chinese and European civilizations while enumerating the virtues of China’s traditional Confucian philosophy. Gu famously proposed applying Confucian solutions to the many problems faced by Europe in the early twentieth century. Originally published in English and quickly translated into German, French, and Japanese, The Spirit of the Chinese People was a sensation in the West, presenting the culture and people of China and making Gu Hongming a national hero.
THE object of this book is an attempt to interpret the spirit and show the value of the Chinese civilisation. Now in order to estimate the value of a civilisation, it seems to me, the question we must finally ask is not what great cities, what magnificent houses, what fine roads it has built and is able to build; what beautiful and comfortable furniture, what clever and useful implements, tools and instruments it has made and is able to make; no, not even what institutions, what arts and sciences it has invented: the question we must ask, in order to estimate the value of a civilisation,—is, what type of humanity, what kind of men and women it has been able to produce. In fact, the man and woman,—the type of human beings—which a civilisation produces, it is this which shows the essence, the personality, so to speak, the soul of that civilisation. Now if the men and women of a civilisation show the essence, the personality and soul of that civilisation, the language which a man and woman speak, shows the essence, the personality, the soul of the man and woman. The French say of literary composition,"Le style, c' est l' homme." I have therefore taken these three things, the Real Chinaman, the Chinese woman and the Chinese language,—as the subjects of the first three essays in this volume to illustrate the spirit and show the value of the Chinese civilisation.
- INTRODUCTION The Religion of Good—citizenship
- THE SPIRIT OF THE CHINESE PEOPLE
- THE CHINESE WOMAN
- THE CHINESE LANGUAGE
- JOHN SMITH IN CHINA
- A GREAT SINOLOGUE
- CHINESE SCHOLARSHIP
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