Hu Shih, or Hú Shì

Hu
Shih, or Hú Shì
1891
1962

Chinese Philosopher, Essayist and Diplomat, key contributor to Chinese Liberalism

Author Quotes

Never before had China seen a religion so rich in imagery, so beautiful and captivating in ritualism and so bold in cosmological and metaphysical speculations. Like a poor beggar suddenly halting before a magnificent storehouse of precious stones of dazzling brilliancy and splendor, China was overwhelmed, baffled and overjoyed. She begged and borrowed freely from this munificent giver. The first borrowings were chiefly from the religious life of India, in which China's indebtedness to India can never be fully told.

No student of Chinese history can say that the Chinese are incapable of religious experience, even when judged by the standards of medieval Europe or pious India.

A group of slaves will never make a liberal and progressive country; such a country can be made up only of independent-minded and free-thinking people.

On July 26, 1916, I announced to all my friends in America that from now on I resolved to write no more poems in the classical language, and to begin my experiments in writing poetry in the so-called vulgar tongue of the people.

After learning the language and culture of the Chinese people, these Jesuits began to establish contacts with the young intellectuals of the country.

On the basis of biological, sociological, and historical knowledge, we should recognize that the individual self is subject to death or decay, but the sum total of individual achievement, for better or worse, lives on in the immortality of The Larger.

And lastly, the political revolutions from 1911 to the present time have done more to bring about tremendous social changes everywhere than even the economic and industrial changes and the new schools.

Only when we realize that there is no eternal, unchanging truth or absolute truth can we arouse in ourselves a sense of intellectual responsibility.

Another important historical factor is the fact that this already very simple religion was further simplified and purified by the early philosophers of ancient China. Our first great philosopher was a founder of naturalism; and our second great philosopher was an agnostic.

Practically all the prominent leaders of thought in China today are openly agnostics and even atheists.

But I wish to point out that it is entirely wrong to say that the Chinese are not religious.

The Chinese people, too, went through all kinds of vicissitudes in their religious development.

Confucius was a humanist and an agnostic.

The Jesuits had learned that a Christian mission to China could never succeed if it were not in a position to show and convince the Chinese intelligentsia of the superiority of the European culture.

For all the social changes in China can be traced to their early beginnings in the days when the new tools or vehicles of commerce and locomotion first brought the Chinese people into unavoidable contact with the strange ways and novel goods of the Western peoples.

The rise of the dramas in the thirteenth century, and the rise of the great novels in a later period, together with their frank glorification of love and the joys of life, may be called the Third Renaissance.

Historically, there had been many periods of Chinese Renaissance.

Within my own life, I read all the beloved novels by lamps of vegetable oil; I saw the Standard Oil invading my own village, I saw gas lamps in the Chinese shops in Shanghai; and I saw their elimination by electric lights.

In such diffused changes of culture two factors are necessary: contact and understanding.

In the year 1915 a series of trivial incidents led some Chinese students in Cornell University to take up the question of reforming the Chinese language.

India Conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.

It is only through contact and comparison that the relative value or worthlessness of the various cultural elements can be clearly and critically seen and understood.

It is true that the Chinese are not so religious as the Hindus, or even as the Japanese; and they are certainly not so religious as the Christian missionaries desire them to be.

Life and human society are the chief concern of Confucianism and, through it, the chief concern of the Chinese people.

What is sacred among one people may be ridiculous in another; and what is despised or rejected by one cultural group, may in a different environment become the cornerstone for a great edifice of strange grandeur and beauty.

Author Picture
First Name
Hu
Last Name
Shih, or Hú Shì
Birth Date
1891
Death Date
1962
Bio

Chinese Philosopher, Essayist and Diplomat, key contributor to Chinese Liberalism