Liang Shuming’s Confucian Reconstruction of Russell’s Philosophy

Contemporary Chinese Thought 52 (1-2):33-42 (2021)
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Reading Bertrand Russell’s Principles of Social Reconstruction, Liang Shuming began a process of interpreting Russell’s philosophy in a Confucian way. The first stage in this process was seeing Russell as a fellow Confucian. Its second stage was absorbing Russell’s theory of impulse, seeing this as sharing aspects of the Confucian doctrine of benevolence (ren). The third stage was reconstructing Russell’s theory of spirit as a Confucian theory of “reason” as impersonal feeling. Under Liang Shuming’s critical assimilation of Russell’s philosophy, Russell’s theories of impulse and spirit came to constitute an intrinsic component of modern New Confucianism and was incorporated into the discourse of modern Chinese philosophy. To a certain extent, this shifts our view of Russell as merely a passing figure in the history of modern Chinese philosophy.



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