嚴復論中西文化

Translated title of the contribution: Yan Fu’s Views on Chinese and Western Cultures

林啟彥

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

筆者在本文中著重指出,嚴復一生的中西文化觀的發展與嬗變,實有其本身的邏輯理路與必然性。我們不能輕易地把它看成前後的斷裂或背離,而應慎重地理解為同一思想與精神的信念軌跡上同向的發展和延績。嚴復始終相信,中西文化性質儘管不同,但各有其存在的價值和發展的前景。嚴復認為,對西方文化的優點與長處要有正確認識的同時,也要看到西方文化的偏差與不足;同理,對延績至民國以來中國文化傳統的積弊與痼疾,要有清醒的認識的同時,也要努力發掘中國文化中的美德與瑰寶。這是嚴復衡估中西文化的基本原則,終生一貫,持守不變。

嚴復一生以國家民族的保存為念,有強烈的愛國愛民的意識,到了晚年時期,這種感覺尤見強著。他始终相信,要使中國真正達到富強之境,免受列強的侵侮,最正確而有效的途方是使民質的改進和提高, 所以他在晚年仍堅持其一貫以敎育和啟蒙的手段來拯救國運的信念。他是中國近代第一個從文化特質處入手比較中西文化異同與優劣的思想家,對中西文化經常保持一種理性與持平的批判態度。晚年的嚴復,對中西文化認識更深,體會更切,有關中西文化優劣取舍的見解,也更趨成熟。二十世紀前二十年,能對中 西文化的真正價值具有正確的理解與識見,又能對其做出恰當的評價與説明者,恐以嚴復的貢獻為多。

This paper focuses on pointing out that the development and transformation of Yan Fu’s views on Chinese and Western cultures throughout his life in fact had their own rationale and followed an inexorable route. We should not jump to the conclusion that his latter ideas were inconsistent or contradicting to the earlier ones. Instead, we should discreetly consider them as a series of uninterrupted developments evolving along the same route of his ideological and spiritual conviction. All along, Yan believed that despite the divergence between Chinese and Western cultures, each had its own value of existence and outlook of growth. He believed that besides having a proper knowledge of the merits and strong points of Western culture, we must also aware of its deviations and shortcomings. For the same reason, in addition to a sober understanding of the long-standing malpractice and chronic maladies of traditional Chinese culture up to the first two decades of the 20th century, we should also endeavour to investigate into the virtues and treasures endowed in this culture. This is the philosophy underlying Yan’s evaluation of the two great cultures, which he upheld throughout his life.

For all his life, Yan was deeply concerned of the fate and the well-being of the Chinese nation. He was an enthusiastic patriot. In his old age, this aspiration was particularly strong. All along, he believed that if China had to become prosperous and powerful and free from being invaded by foreign powers, the most proper and effective way was to improve and upgrade the quality of its people. Therefore in his old age he still held on to his enduring conviction of saving the nation by means of education and enlightening the people. He was the first thinker in modern China to delve into cultural characteristics to find out the similarities and diversities, strong and weak points of the Chinese and Western cultures. He always held a rational and impartial attitude towards the criticism of these two cultures. In his late years, Yan’s knowledge and understanding of the two cultures became even more profound. His views on the strong and weak points of the two cultures, what to take and what to reject became further mature. Armed with sound knowledge and correct understanding of the true value of the Chinese and Western cultures, and having the ability to make proper evaluation and illumination, Yan Fu was known to be the foremost thinker with the greatest contribution to China in the first two decades of the 20th century.
Translated title of the contributionYan Fu’s Views on Chinese and Western Cultures
Original languageChinese (Traditional)
Pages (from-to)131-153
Number of pages23
Journal人文中國學報
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 1999

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