Zhang Dongsun’s Encounters with “Logicism”

From Russell to the Objectivist Bases of “Science and the View on Life”

Authors

  • Jan VRHOVSKI The University of Edinburgh

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2024.12.1.323-354

Keywords:

science, view on life, Logicism, Zhang Dongsun, Zhang Junmai, Bertrand Russell

Abstract

The article surveys the early work of Zhang Dongsun on topics like logicism of Bertrand Russell and scientific philosophy, which aimed to criticise its foundations and replace them with a Neo-Kantian alternative. It tries to show how a series of Zhang’s articles from early 1920s, in which he sought to create a new “neutral” variety of logicism, can be used to better understand the intellectual foundations of the neovitalist “philosophy of life” of Zhang Junmai. By delving deeper into the underlying ideas and possible motivations behind Zhang’s philosophical endeavours from the early 1920s, the article argues for a different kind of understanding of the historical basis of humanism in modern Chinese philosophy. Moreover, it strives to show how the “science and the view on life” controverse as initiated by Zhang Junmai in 1923 might be rooted or at least related directly to a syncretistic ideal, to conjoin science and the view of life in a new kind of harmonistic outlook. Most importantly, the article will try to show how Zhang Dongsun’s critical engagement with Russell’s philosophy, modern logic and physical science could be understood as the theoretical nucleus of the so-called “view on life” philosophy, not only in the context of the 1923 controverse but possibly the entire Republican Period. Due to the limited space, the article does not offer a concise introduction Zhang’s life and philosophy, but instead provides a focused discussion of particular fragments of his work from the early 1920s.   

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Published

18. 01. 2024

How to Cite

VRHOVSKI, Jan. 2024. “Zhang Dongsun’s Encounters With “Logicism”: From Russell to the Objectivist Bases of ‘Science and the View on Life’”. Asian Studies 12 (1): 323-54. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2024.12.1.323-354.

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