It is both an honor and a challenge to draft the Preface for this volume of the English language writings of Prof. Tang Yi-jie. The honor derives from the prestige of the author; the challenge lies in adequately expressing the importance of his work at this juncture in the history of Chines thought and life.
Prof. Tang Yi-jie was born on Jan. 15, 1927, in Tranjing to a scholarly family of great distinction. His life has been deeply marked by the great changes in his country, from the time of the entry of the Japanese armies, through the great revolution, to the struggles of the continuing revolution, and more recently those of the last decade.
His personal drama during these years is graphically described in the book by his wife, Yue Daiyun, To the Storm, written with Carolyn Wakemen (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1985). Here I shall focus rather on the steps in the scholarly work of Professor Tang, recognizing that they have been oriented by the needs of his people.
In 1951 Tang Yi-jie graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy of Peking University, where he is now a professor of philosophy. In 1956 he took up the study of comparative metaphysics in the Wei-Jin periods, laying firm ground-work in such basic themes as substance and function. The deep learning of his Father, the foremost scholar in the field of Buddhist studies, provided unique professional access to the Buddhist scriptures. With a few other students, together they explored the "mysterious learning."
Later, in 1978, Prof. Tang renewed these studies in a direction which was to be the continuing theme of his subsequent work. In its search for modernization China needed to assimilate ideas from abroad, and this needed to be done in a way that promoted rather than destroyed the people. In the Chinese experience one major example of this was the 1000 year long process of assimilating Buddhism. He set about studying this in detail with a view to discovering the conditions for effective cultural assimilation in general, and for Confucian culture in particular. During the mid eighties this was complemented by studies in Daoism (Taoism).
With these three components of Chinese culture: Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism (Taoism) in hand, Prof. Tang has turned more recently to the way in which Western thought can make a proper contribution. This directed his attention to the work of Matteo Ricci and other scholars of that period. They pointed out the great achievement of Chinese culture regarding the inner moral life of the person, both within him or herself and in relation to others in the family, province or nation. But they note that the modern sense of the person depends upon an additional horizon, namely, an outer transcendent in whose image all is created. This gives firm grounds for human freedom, for this basis of personal identity is beyond anything man can grant or remove. Further is constitutes a dynamic combination of appreciation of creation and lack of full satisfaction with whatever has been achieved thus far: this in turn generates the drive to explore new avenues in cooperation with others.
Matteo Ricci saw this vision as a necessary complement to Chinese culture, and delineated a mutually complementary relation between Confucianism and the Christian cultures of the West. This responds to urgent present needs.
The chapters of the present work reflect in a structured manner this pattern of the research of Prof. Tang. In the introductory section he treats the categorial structures of Chinese philosophy and the method for its study. Next he studies the root Confucian and Daoist dimensions of Chinese culture.
The introduction of Buddhism into China is then given special attention in order to bring out the ways in which it proved complementary and hence able to be assimilated. The final paper is the most recent; it treats the work of Matteo Ricci and his suggestions for the role which Christian insights could play.
These chapters are, of course, but a reflection of the extended Chinese writings of Prof. Tang. These include Guo Xiang and the Mysterious Learning of the Wei-J in Period, 1983; Daoism (Taoism) in the Wei-Jin Period, 1988; Confucianism, Daoism (Taoism) and Buddhism in Traditional Chinese Culture, 1988; and over a hundred articles.
Beyond all this Prof. Tang has founded the International Academy of Chinese Culture to playing the essential role of looking at once back into the roots of Chinese identity and forward to the ways in which this can live more fully in new times. For his central contribution to bridging the past and the future, Prof. Tang was awarded an honorary degree by MacMasters University in 1990.
It is particularly fitting then that his work should be published as part of the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy series: Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Life in East Asia. Other volumes concern "Man and Nature," and "The foundation of Moral Education in the Chinese Tradition." Other volumes are in preparation and parallel series in Eastern Europe, Africa, etc. For in a real sense all face an analogous problem characteristic of the human condition in our days, namely, how to move with dignity into the future. This volume reflects Prof. Tang's life of rich research and his deep concern to respond to that question.
George F. McLean Secretary, Council for Research in Values and Philosophy Washington. D.C. 20064
Though I had never dreamed of publishing a collection of my papers in English this volume, entitled Chinese Culture and Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism (Taoism) and Christianity, is now ready to go to press. The papers reflect the current trend to relate the different cultures of each nationality, country and region within a broader global culture. In such a situation an understanding of Chinese culture becomes especially important. Thus far, however, because it is written in Chinese very few works on Chinese culture by scholars from mainland China have been generally available. It is my hope that by making some of that work available in English this book can enable people outside China to know both the work done by Chinese scholars and specific aspects of Chinese culture.
The book is a collection of some of my papers published in China between 1982 and 1988 and some lectures delivered outside China during the same period. It consists of four parts: Part I reflects my general views regarding the structure of Chinese philosophy in terms of its categories and treatment of the true, the good and the beautiful, as well as its recent progress and future prospects. Part II is my evaluation of Confucianism. The article entitled HAn Inquiry into the Possibility of the Third Phase Development of Confucianism" was originally a lecture at The Seventeenth World Congress of Philosophy, on the whole it represents my viewpoint of recent years toward traditional Chinese philosophy. In "The Problem of Harmonious Communities in Ancient China" I try to sort out the positive and negative influence of Confucian philosophy upon Chinese society and to indicate that the ideal of an harmonious society can always heighten the spiritual level of people. Part III concerns the native religion of China, Daoism (Taoism), the study of which helps highlight certain characteristics of Chinese culture. Part IV concerns the introduction of Buddhism and Christianity into China. The two papers on the introduction of Buddhism attempt to describe the impact and dynamics of the introduction of a foreign culture. "The Attempt of Matteo Ricci to Link Chinese and Western Culture" concerns the introduction of Western culture into China. As China is still facing problematic tensions between foreign and traditional cultures these studies of the introduction of Buddhism and Christianity into China may hold special interest. The Appendices arc outlines of talks at the University of Ore-
In sum, all my research is aimed at exploring the problem of cultural development at a time when traditional Chinese culture is moving towards modernization.
Because the papers and talks in this collection were written at in different times and translated into English by different people there are inevitable variations in style and expression. Nevertheless, the text promises to convey well my original ideas.
I am extremely grateful to all the friends and colleagues who helped in the translation. My particular gratitude goes to Prof. George McLean who took the trouble to edit the book with attention to English expression. I met Prof. McLean in August, 1984, at the Conference on Asian and Comparative Philosophy in Hawaii. In Winter, 1986, Prof. McLean visited Peking University where we planned a Joint Colloquium on "Man and Nature" which was held in Beijing in the Summer of 1987. This successful symposium has been published in both Chinese and English versions (Beijing: Peking University Press, 1990; Washington, D.C.: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy and The University Press of America, 1989). Further colloquia: on "Man and Society" with the University of Peking; on "Traditional Attitudes and Modernization" with the Institute of Philosophy of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences; and on "Confucianism and Christianity" with the Academy of Chinese Culture are projected for the coming year and will constitute future volumes in the series. I wish all of these efforts great success.
Tang Yijie Stanford University June 20. 1990
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