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Essays On Modern Chinese Philosophy

2689 words - 11 pages

Sun Yat-sen and the Nationalist Revolution
Sun Yat-sen was an early Chinese revolutionary who founded the nationalist movement. This movement was almost entirely Western in its beginnings. Sun Yat-sen was almost entirely Western educated, including secondary school in Hawaii. He originally intended to pursue a military career, but instead decided to go to medical school in Hong Kong. He knew little of classical Chinese studies, thinking them useless, he gained respect it seemed more for his grasp on world trends. Because of his mostly Western education, even in Hong Kong, his knowledge of China itself was limited.
Sun's aims were, at first, little adapted to both traditional Chinese attitudes or to the realities of Chinese life. Because of his knowledge of the prevailing Western modes of thought he believed “that, with the progress of civilization and the advance of science, Western ideas and institutions could be adopted quickly and easily by the Chinese.” (de Barry & Lufrano, 2000, p. 315) However, the gap between the perceived sluggish Chinese past and Sun's vision for the future was a great despair for the nationalist movement. This was shown in the failure in the 1911 movement that caused Sun to re-think the movement and to create the Nationalist Party as an open political party.
This Nationalist Party held many of the same beliefs that his earlier movement did, one of the main difference is that he began to incorporate Leninst ideas after seeing the success of the Soviet revolution. Sun created the “Three Peoples Principles” that served as the center of the Nationalist ideas. These were the principles of nationalism, democracy and people's livelihood. Another difference is that Sun's first revolutionary attempt was directly at the Manchu rulers, however, with them gone he still saw China as weak as ever and realized that China needed more than just a change in leadership but a change in ideals which he believed his three principles would fix.
His principle of nationalism was probably his strongest belief of the three. China had all the makings of a great country, they had massive amounts of land, the people all were linked through historical struggles however there was no cohesion. He saw china as a “heap of loose sand”. The issue, he claims, lies in the strength of family and clan solidarity and the lack of national spirit. In order for China to become great the people need to begin to grasp this national spirit, to open up their family and clan sizes to include all Chinese people. Another aspect that he believes is hindering the Chinese national identity is the hypo-colony, in that China has too many foreign powers involved with the daily lives of the Chinese people. Rather than being the colony, and thus “slaves”, of a single country China is instead controlled by many countries. The prefix “hypo-” is used in chemistry to denote a lower grade of an element. In essence Sun is saying that because there are so many foreign...

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