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Liang Shuming

Liang Shuming (October 18, 1893—June 23, 1988) was a philosopher, teacher, and leader in the Rural Reconstruction Movement in the late Qing Dynasty and early Republican eras of Chinese history.

Liang was of Guilin, Guangxi origin, but born in Beijing. He was the son of a famous intellectual who committed suicide apparently in despair at the state of the Chinese nation. He had a modern education and exposure to Western writings.

In 1917 he was recruited by Cai Yuanpei to the philosophy department of Beijing University, where he produced an influential book based on his lectures entitled Eastern and Western Cultures and their Philosophies, which expounded some of the doctrines of a modern Confucianism. He also displayed the influence of Henri Bergson, then popular in China, as well as Buddhist Yogacara philosophy.

Regarding Western civilization as doomed to eventual failure, Liang did not advocate complete reform and adoption of Western institutions. He nonetheless believed that reform was needed to make China equal to the rest of the world. It was his view that the required prerequisites for these institutions did not exist in China, so they would not succeed if introduced. Instead, he pushed for change to socialism starting at the grassroots level. To this end, he founded the Shandong Rural Reconstruction Institute and helped to found the China Democratic League.

Editor: Feng Hui


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