Dissertation > History, geography > Historical Theory > History of the History > China

Liang Qichao and Chinese Modern Historiography: A Case Analysis Around His Interdisciplinary Methods

Author ShiYingLi
Tutor WangXueDian
School Shandong University
Course Historical Theory and History
Keywords Liang Qichao interdisciplinary research Chinese modern historiography Social Sciences
CLC K092
Type PhD thesis
Year 2008
Downloads 858
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Liang Qichao, who was born in the last stage of Qing Dynasty, had experienced a series of events, such as Wuxu coup d’etat, the Eight-Power Allied Forces, the Revolution of 1911, The May 4th New Culture Movement and growing up of CCP. He was enthusiastic in polity, concerned about demos, had a sense of responsibility and mission of cure the nation and the people. At the same time, he had profound Chinese foundation and acuminous savvy percipience to the new things. Since a long period of time, Liang Qichao who was a scholar and politician has been a hotspot of study. It was focused in his politics thought and historic contribution. Although there are quite a bit of monograph and thesis about Liang Qichao, it still has a few blank because of his much politics and learning routes. For historiography, the academia has studied a lot about the source of new historiography, the prophase and anaphase of his historiography theory, the pioneer contribution of the subject of Chinese historiography, the historiography method, but it was still deficient. Especially lacking of Liang’s sparkpluging of interdisciplinary research, accordingly we can’t definitely know Liang’s infection in the modern history of Chinese historiography.In the former study of Liang Qichao, It has focused to his animadvert on the traditional historiography, the suggestion to the civilian historiography. But it always focused to his two books "the Study Method of Chinese History" and "the Complementarity of the Study Method of Chinese History" which were lectures in 1922 and 1926 in Nankai and Qinghua University. In fact, the core of Liang’s new historiography is sparkpluging of interdisciplinary research besides his historical evolutionism and commons history. But it covered a lot of people’s sight because of excellent style of writing, intensive argument, broad infection and unvarying fascination. They have much focused to the textual research, differentiation fake, collection historical data arrangement literature in a lot of articles which were about appraising Liang’s history method and summarizing the history method of 20 century. In fact, "the Study Method of Chinese History" and "the Complementarity of the Study Method of Chinese History" are two books that for the beginning students, they were not Liang’s whole history method. Liang had not summarized his method which has been the rage for a half century before he died. Today, although some scholar such as Xu Guansan discussed Liang’s contribution, relative to Liang’s whole contribution, it is still out proportion. It can help us to understand and appraise Liang’s status in the modern Chinese historiography to summarize Liang’s contribution to interdisciplinary research.The times produce their heroes. Liang Qichao stepped on Chinese political arena and learning palace at a special period. Liang Qichao who was frustrated in Wuxu Political Reform in 1898 hoped to find some medicine to cure his motherland. He came into more contact with the Occident social science by the help of Japanese culture and by the infection of Japanese civilization historiography and Occident social science, he started to propose the new historiography, animadverted on Chinese traditional historiography,. He proposed that historiography was for the common people at content, striding across the other subjects on the method, historical evolutionism at theory. Especially he proposed to use the Occident sociology, economics, psychology and statistics for inference into history study produced good results. Liang opened a new chapter of Chinese new historiography at 20 century.Liang Qichao studied history variance, people’s character and culture characteristic in his many articles by the effect of Japanese civilization historiography, especially in the articles written in 1902. It was connected with Liang’s mood who was anxious to save the nation when he had just got to Japan. Liang had the reasons in his discuss and it had more discuss about people’s character and culture characteris- tic in Chinese and foreign historiography. But Liang got some condemnation because of his lots of standpoints quoted Japanese scholar FuTianHeMin. In fact, Liang was unblamable because he was anxious to introduce Occident science to the Chinese people. Liang only used Occident theory and method for inference, his important argument was Chinese traditional literature. After Liang Qichao, some scholar started to study on history geography and obtained good achievements.Liang’s another trait about his historiography method is explaining history by the help of sociology. Sociology appeared during the Occident modern development and it also came into China along with the capitalism country’s inbreak. As soon as Liang contacted sociology, he put it and his new historiography together. Of course, many sociology theories gave birth to the content and method of new historiography. Sociology was called group ology and there were many glossaries such as group history, group method and group marquis in Liang’s articles. The basic theory, historical evolutionism, was applied into Liang’s study. Of course, many scholars think that Liang believed in historical evolutionism before 1923 in which he wrote the article named " Several important questions about civilization history", then he believed in Mencius who had the theory about history-circle. Contrarily, I have the idea that Liang always believed in historical evolutionism in his whole life. Though he didn’t always talk about history evolutionism in his late years, he used it in his many articles. There are two reasons which conduced Liang’s theory , they are individual character and society environment. By Liang Qichao’s effect, sociology history grew up in China.There are a lot of articles about economy among Liang’s works about 14 million words. Liang was not good at economy, and economy had not been regarded in Chinese history. But Liang parsed history with it, from which we know that Liang regarded it as a theory that can cure the nation. Otherwise, Liang successively took up the post of currency president and treasury department minister in Yuan Shikai and Duan Qirui’s government. He wrote many articles about finance in order to push economic form and gain ground economic theory, there were also a lot of articles which can give us experiences and lessons about history economy. Liang was the pioneer in Chinese economic history. After Liang Qichao, there were many economic historian who employed themselves in the study of economic history and economic history had been much accounted over a half century.Liang Qichao had a passionate temperament, so he especially gave his attention to mentality in his study. Using psychology into historical study was Liang’s another contribution. In fact, psychology came from the Occident and it got plentiful harvest after the book "The Interpretation for Dreams" written by Sigmund Freud. Liang Qichao didn’t learn psychology by the numbers, but he refered to a lot of psychology content such as personality, character, sensibility and subconsciousness in his study and he always explained some history events with psychology to help us understand a lot. After Liang Qichao, it was considered as a theory to use psychology into history study, and psychology was talked about in the universities’ classes and written in some history books.Statistical history had been fashionable in the Occident historiography, but Liang Qichao gave a lecture named "Historical Statistics" in 1922 to call on using statistics into history study and it was earlier about 30 years than the Occident. Liang used statistics into history study in his whole life and some numbers, sheets and pictures can be seen here and there in his works that were characteristic in his articles. Of course, Liang’s statistical history was not as good as today’s because there weren’t computers and mathematics analysis, but we still admire Liang’s savvy and pioneer sprit. By the effect of Liang Qichao, a lot of scholars took part in statistical history and some works such as "Statistical History" were published.In conclusion, interdisciplinary research was after the subjects’ differentiation in the west, but the character of whole and conjunction about people’ civilization was dissevered while historiography was independent from the other subjects. A new historic writing idea was collectivity history and writing method was interdisciplinary research appeared on the history stage when the Almanac School came into existence. Although the characteristic of transfixion of Chinese traditional history incarnates the meaning of interdisciplinary research itself, the protagonist of traditional history were always the governors because of no conception of subjects’ differentiation. Even some records about astronomy, geography and economy were nation’s policy or activities of the governor, the common people weren’t able to appear in the history books. In 1902, Liang Qichao held the new historiography flag who began to animadverted on traditional history and tried to searched out a kind of medicine to cure the nation. Among these, he called on interdisciplinary research and it added fuel to the fire to the Chinese modern historiography. After Liang Qichao, interdisciplinary research existed in the history study until it became stronger and stronger. The theory of historical evolvement, history for the common people and interdisciplinary research called by Liang Qichao exerted a good influence. A set of general history works were published and interdisciplinary research appeared in many history philosophy books, even more, it promoted the school of the historical materialism to rise up and the society of historical research to came into existence. In fact, interdisciplinary research always exists in history study, from the distinctive characteristic in the last to striding economics, sociology today. Even postmodernism new culture history, which seriously challenges historiography, also strides humanics, linguistics and semeiology. So we can consider that striding the other subjects won’t behind the times forever. Of course, any method has positive and negative effects, interdisciplinary research has also localization and faces some challenge. It has disadvantage to use social science into history study because history is written for human being. History would lose its foundation if it is lack of activities of human being, and it will also lose its function and meaning. Social scientist often pay attention to mode, transverse section and configuration, in a way, it would be host and make history be appendage if we couldn’t grasp well. So the historians must maintain sharp vigilance and pay attention to time, change and the events and people’s characteristic, especially to people’s spirit and civilization lives. The ultimate aim of history is put science and literature together.

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