IJCH 2016 Vol.2(2): 74-78 ISSN: 2382-6177
doi: 10.18178/ijch.2016.2.2.041

The Life and Intellectual Transformation of the Late Qing Official Scholar Yun Yu-Ding (1862-1917)

Liu Xunqian and Yang Yi
Abstract—This paper discusses the experiences in learning and the changes in thought of Yun Yuding (1862-1917), an official-scholar during the late Qing Dynasty. Using Yun’s Chengzhai Diary as a primary source, it first reconstructs his biography along with his scholarly associations. As Qian-Jia textual-critical research was the dominant school in the academic community in the Qing dynasty, Yun was deeply influenced by evidential study in Yanghu (modern-day Jiangsu). However, there was another important trend of thought in Beijing, advocated by high-ranking officials such as Xu Tong (1819-1900) and Sun Jianai (1827-1909), which cherished moral cultivation. This paper discovers that Yun worked under Xu Tong in the imperial Hanlin Academy (Hanlin Yuan) in Beijing after he obtained his jinshi (the highest degree in imperial times) in 1889. He increasingly found that he needed to closely engage with Xu’s academic preference if he was to gain any recognition. Yun finally became an advocate of merging the learning of the schools of Zhu Xi (1130-1200) and Wang Yangming (1472-1529). He agreed most with the academic stance of Gu Xiancheng (1550-1612) because of his involvement in political affairs. The paper also finds that some of Yun’s ideas suggest that Yun might have absorbed Liang Qichao’s (1873-1929) idea into his thinking. In general, the fall of evidential study in the late Qing period had the effect of what Thomas Kuhn terms a paradigm shift. In this context, this paper contributes a case study to explain why the Chinese literati converted to Neo-Confucianism.

Index Terms—History of Qing scholarship, intellectual resources, Late Qing China, Yun Yu-Ding (1862-1917).

The authors are with The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong (e-mail: lxunqian@ hku.hk, u3002811@hku.hk).

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Cite: Liu Xunqian and Yang Yi, "The Life and Intellectual Transformation of the Late Qing Official Scholar Yun Yu-Ding (1862-1917)," International Journal of Culture and History vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 74-78, 2016.

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