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Chinese History and CultureSeventeenth Century Through Twentieth Century$
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Ying-shih Yü

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231178600

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231178600.001.0001

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Reflections on Chinese Historical Thinking

Reflections on Chinese Historical Thinking

Chapter:
(p.294) 15. Reflections on Chinese Historical Thinking
Source:
Chinese History and Culture
Author(s):

Ying-shih Yü

, Josephine Chiu-Duke, Michael S. Duke
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231178600.003.0015

Of this series of reflections, one of the most important is that the first generation of Chinese historians who were exposed to Western influence only in a limited way produced historical scholarship far superior to that of the later generations who applied the so-called scientific method. Comparing Chinese historiography to Western theories since the 18th century, China seems backward, but compared to ancient Greek historiography as far as underlying assumptions, principles, and methods are concerned, there appear to be as many similarities as differences. The essay argues that fundamental to Chinese historical thought is the centrality of human agency in the making of history, and that Chinese historiography was also very much concerned about the Rankean notion of “What had actually happened?”

Keywords:   Progress, Science, Historiography, kaozheng, evidential research, shi, praise and blame

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