Volume 16, Issue 2, 2019
Conceptual History: China, Asia, and the Global
The Concept of Rendaozhuyi in Late Qing and Early Republican China
This paper examines the concept of Rendaozhuyi in Late Qing and Early Republican China. Appearing as early as 1903, Rendaozhuyi is the Chinese rendering of both humanism and humanitarianism. For the Chinese intellectuals during the Late Qing and Early Republican period, “rendao” itself represented a modern value of humanity and human dignity. In the wake of the Great War, Rendaozhuyi gained tremendous popularity among the May-Fourth scholars. Some of them held it up as a universal ideal and tool to critique Chinese tradition, while others respectfully disagreed, worrying it would undermine the collective morale of “strengthening the nation”. Finally, the late 1920s saw the rapid ebb of the discussions of Rendaozhuyi.
Keywords: Rendaozhuyi, humanism, humanitarianism, conceptual history