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[Vol.29 (2018)] Yan Fus Scientific Thought and Mutual Understanding
Author : HAN Sunggu
Date : 19.03.25
Page : 151-170
Keyword : scientism, ontology, evolution and ethics, incomprehensible, metaphysics, mutual understanding
Abstract :


Yan Fu is a famous enlightenment thinker of modern China. Being ahead of his time, Yan studied Western science to find the truth. He emphasized science and advocated the development of scientific thought. At the same time, he had a unique view on the relationship between science and philosophy. His thought came mainly from the West, but he also possessed a deep understanding of Chinese traditional ideas. In the crisis of the destruction of the nation, Yan Fu emphasized the self-consciousness. However, some of the traditional Chinese ideas were closely associated with the collective consciousness of the Chinese people. He held that if these ideas are not changed the future of the Chinese people would be bleak. Therefore, he suggested that Chinese ideology and culture should be liberated from the bondage of traditional metaphysics. He also urged that Chinese people should modernize their traditional thought and respond to social demands by using scientific method and experiential knowledge. Yan Fu is the first Chinese to accept science as a value system. He translated Thomas Henry Huxleys Evolution and Ethics (Tianyan lun ) and promoted the theory of social evolution (shehui jinhua lun ). Through this work, he provided the theoretical basis for the emergence of scientism. He promoted mutual understanding of scientific knowledge and the knowledge of other disciplines, and pursued compatibility of the comprehensible (siyi ) and the incomprehensible (buke siyi ʦ). Although his thought contained an element of agnosticism (bukezhi lun ʦ), he exerted a great influence on the birth of Chinese Scientism in the late Qing dynasty.

 

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