Research Project


Modern Chinese Critique of Progressivism

Prof. Dr. Axel Schneider

Most modern Chinese historians initially accepted the modern Western views of progressive history, however, before long, several of them were beginnings to doubt the value of progressivism. In this project, Prof. SchneiderI focuses on those critics, who either refer back to the traditional concepts in order to formulate a critique of progressivism, or are inspired by Western conservatives and their attack on modern views of history. In their critique of progressivism, these Chinese voices focus on the implications of the modern view of history for human agency in history. They doubt that history is characterized by causality, emphasize the pivotal role of the human agent and attempt to come to terms with such notions as "free will" and "contingency" by relating them to and comparing them with such traditional notions as e.g. "constant change" (hengbian) or karma (ye) in order to conceptualize change in time and the role of the human agent within it. These considerations are, in many cases, closely linked with theto philosophical or historiographical discussions of ethics.

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