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Chan, Sai-wai (1977) The Buddhist theme in late Ch'ing political thought, 1890-1911, with special reference to T'an Ssu-t'ung. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00028486

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Abstract

In the present work the writer attempts a study of the religious, cultural and political significance of Buddhism in late Ch'ing intellectual thought through an examination of the writings of influential figures like Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, K'ang Yu-wei, Chang Ping-lin, and particularly T'an Ssu-t'ung. That Buddhism came to play a part in the reformers' thought was a result of several factors: the rekindled interest in Buddhism brought about through the efforts of laymen such as Yang Jen-shan, the need to find a counter-balance to Christianity, the search for a new unifying ideology for China as Confucianism crumbled before the challenge from the West, and the immense potentiality of Buddhism to cater for the intellectuals' diverse cultural and political purposes. T'an Ssu-t'ung's Jen-hsueh is chosen here to exemplify the use of Buddhism in late Ch'ing political thought. Buddhism not only served as the all-embracing school of his eclectic synthesis, it also formed the foundation of the major concepts in the treatise, and was closely related to his radical thinking. To T'an and other like-minded Buddhist intellectuals. Buddhism was not world- abnegating or pessimistic, but indigenous, 'this-worldly' and 'other- regarding'. As their writings show. Buddhism could be used to invalidate Christianity, to suggest that science and western philosophies had their roots in Chinese cultural tradition, to provide unity of thought, cultivate revolutionary character, uplift morality and dismantle deep-seated erroneous concepts and parochial views. This multifarious application of Buddhist doctrines in political thought was phenomenal, and it shows that while the search for wealth and power was of paramount importance to China, there were concerns which transcended the material level. The Buddhist theme in the late Ch'ing period thus manifests itself in many facets of the complex process of the cultural transformation from traditional to modern China.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00028486
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:58
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/28486

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