Translation of Vol. 1 of Ge Zhaoguang’s Intellectual History Published

Ge Zhaoguang’s Intellectual History of China was a landmark event in Chinese scholarship, moving beyond earlier history-of-ideas or Marxist frameworks. The first volume has now been published in English translation.

An Intellectual History of China, Volume One

Knowledge, Thought, and Belief before the Seventh Century CE

Ge Zhaoguang, Fudan University; Translated by Michael S. Duke, University of British Columbia and Josephine Chiu-Duke, University of British Columbia

In An Intellectual History of China, Professor Ge Zhaoguang presents a history of traditional Chinese knowledge, thought and belief to the late six century CE with a new approach offering a new perspective. It appropriates a wide range of source materials and emphasizes the necessity of understanding ideas and thought in their proper historical contexts. Its analytical narrative focuses on the dialectical interaction between historical background and intellectual thought. While discussing the complex dynamics of interaction among the intellectual thought of elite Chinese scholars, their historical conditions, their canonical texts and the “worlds of general knowledge, thought and belief,” it also illuminates the significance of key issues such as the formation of the Chinese world order and its underlying value system, the origins of Chinese cultural identity and foreign influences.


7 replies on “Translation of Vol. 1 of Ge Zhaoguang’s Intellectual History Published”

  1. Hi Steve,

    thanks for sharing this information! I have used Ge Zhaoguang’s history in class in Taipei; indeed, it is a very readable and clear introduction to Chinese intellectual history, and students like Ge’s writing style very much. From a more professional standpoint, what is the most noteworthy about this book is the fact that its author largely avoids the term (or the perspective of) “philosophy”. Ge is simply not convinced that there is much “philosophy” in Chinese thought, and instead wants to take Chinese thought seriously in its alterity (i.e. in its religious, political and social contexts). This seems also the reason why Chinese philosophers (at least in Taiwan) do not seem to appreciate this book very much. Ge Zhaoguang does not use much of the hybrid terminology which has been developped by Chinese philosophers in the 20th century. All this is of course highly debatable…

  2. Won’t read this. I believe Fung Yu-Lan’s “Short History” is much better as an introduction to Chinese philosophy for beginners, for it was written in English by Fung himself and edited by a native speaker of English who worked with Fung. Further, despite Fung’s study in philosophy at a Western university, he actually didn’t employ the terms or the perspectives of Western Philosophy a lot in the little book. But the value of Fung’s “long history” is another problem.

  3. Hi Paul, you don’t need to taste particular things to find that they are unpalatable I think. Usually we can judge things simply by their smell.

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