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Hou, Kok Chung (1998) Hu Shi: A Chinese pragmatist and reformist. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The name Hu Shi (1891-1962) would inevitable arise in the minds of scholars and students of Chinese intellectual history who wish to trace the development of Chinese modern thinking which encompasses such ideas as scientific attitude, democracy, cultural criticism and freedom of speech. Although studies on Hu are quite abundant, it is obvious that more profound research has yet to be done, especially since a prodigious amount of primary sources has appeared in recent years. This dissertation has three objectives: (1) to show that Hu's thought was more complicated than had been reviewed, (2) to analyse the contribution and limitation of his Pragmatic approach to Chinese scholarship and politics; (3) to explore the dilemmas and mental tensions of Hu both as a intellectual and a scholar. My study will first provide a brief account of Hu's education in China and in America with emphasis on Hu's adoption of Pragmatism. Then I shall recount how Hu spearheaded the New Cultural Movement by his application of Pragmatic and scientific approaches to the Literary Revolution and the reform of Chinese scholarship. The "scientism" in Hu's thought is illustrated in Chapter III, which will be followed by a discussion on Hu's predicament in his effort to integrate the concept of "use" (yong) of Chinese classical philosophy into his Pragmatism and how he used "scientific method" as an excuse to justify his textual research. I shall also argue that although Hu was apparently a leading advocator of Westernisation, he was indeed profoundly imbued in Chinese philosophical legacy. The last two chapters will focus on Hu's dilemmas as a political critic and the ideological conflicts between his political stand and that of Chinese Communists and explain why the conflict could be said to be part of the definition of Pragmatism. Nevertheless, my study will attempt to prove that, ultimately, Hu's career as scholar and thinker was determined by the course of modern Chinese history that was beyond his capability to alter.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:59

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