西歐族國文明史觀東漸的個案研究: 博克爾對明治日本的啟示

Translated title of the contribution: The Transmission of the Western View of National Culture to the East: A Case Study of Buckle's Influence on Meiji Japan

鮑紹霖

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Abstract

The matrix of Sino-Western cultural exchange in the modern times may be described as a Europe-Japan-China trilogy when ideas, theories, technology etc. flowed from Western Europe to Meiji Japan and then late-Qing China. This paper selects as extremely important but now neglected Victorian cultural historian Henry Thomas Buckle as a case study to illustrate how visions of modern civilization first grew in Western Europe and then flowed to Meiji Japan where it left important imprints on the East Asian host's modernization efforts. The important Japanese “Link” to China's Westernization efforts has long been acknowledged but seldom fully explored by scholars, taking perhaps a toll on the study of China's modernization. Studying how Buckle nursed his ideas and how they had been adopted by the Japanese in the mid 1800s, this paper seeks to encourage more detailed studies on the long neglected “Japanese Link” to build more solid foundations for continued studies of Chinese exiles, students, reformers and revolutionaries “inherited” such European legacies, albeit with Japanese selection, twists and modifications.

Like Francois Guizot, Voltaire and Montesquieu, Buckle was one of the modern European thinkers who confidently wrote encyclopedic in contrast to those in other lands. Their mammoth works had been anxiously studied to find the “secrets” of European success by intellectuals of less developed nations in Eastern Europe, Asia and even America. Buckle's book had been on the lists of “required“ readings in Japanese universities at the time. Quoting from over six hundred of the most famous and widely read European works at the time and citing many first hand and personally verified sources and observations from his carefully documented research trips, Buckle's analysis of cultural progress convinced many as it aptly summarized views of the best minds of the time, eloquently and powerfully argued and elaborated and supported by abundant evidences and references. Perhaps what appealed most to the aspiring readers was Buckle's claim and attempts to derive “scientific general principles” or “laws” of the progress of a nation's civilization (and the entire human race's), and attempt and claim similarly upheld by other interpretations of cultural development. The influence of this group of European intellectuals on Japan, and more central to our concern —— China, is yet to be more fully explored.
Translated title of the contributionThe Transmission of the Western View of National Culture to the East: A Case Study of Buckle's Influence on Meiji Japan
Original languageChinese (Traditional)
Pages (from-to)71-85
Number of pages15
Journal香港浸會大學史學集刊
Volume1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1999
Externally publishedYes

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