Modernization of Chinese Philosophical Methodology

Zhang Dainian’s Innovation and the Challenges of Neo-Materialism


  • Jana S. Rošker University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia



modern Chinese philosophy, Chinese and intercultural philosophy, modernization of Chinese thought, methodology of Chinese philosophy


The present paper aims to shed light on certain methodological challenges that Chinese intellectuals faced in the process of coming to terms with Marxist thought. Even at the beginning of these processes, i.e., in the first decades of the 20th century, Chinese theorists faced several difficulties regarding the issue of cross-cultural philosophical syntheses. Thus, in their endeavours to adapt Marxism to the specifically Chinese worldview, they sought suitable adaptations of traditional philosophical methodologies that would enable them to fruitfully integrate classical Chinese and modern Marxist discourses. Zhang Dainian 張岱年 (1909–2004) has played a particularly prominent role in this process. Therefore, this paper aims to shed light on his contribution to the establishment of new Chinese and cross-cultural philosophical methodologies. In terms of exploring general philosophical issues, Zhang established a unique philosophical system known as “neo-materialism” in which he attempted to integrate Marxist materialism with some basic approaches of traditional Chinese philosophy. The crucial features that defined this philosophical system were based on his innovative methodology, which is critically presented in this paper.


Download data is not yet available.


Altinok, Ozan Altan. 2019. “Mao’s Marxist Negation of Marxism.” Asian Studies 7 (1): 75–96.

Bunnin, Nicholas. 2002. “Introduction.” In Contemporary Chinese Philosophy, edited by Chung-ying Cheng, and Nicholas Bunnin, 1–15. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Cheng, Chung-ying. 2002. “Recent Trends in Chinese Philosophy in China and the West.” In Contemporary Chinese Philosophy, edited by Chung-ying Cheng, and Nicholas Bunnin, 349–404. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Cheng, Lian. 2002. “Zhang Dainian: Creative Synthesis and Chinese Philosophy.” In Contemporary Chinese Philosophy, edited by Chung-ying Cheng, and Nicholas Bunnin, 235–44. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Hall, David L., and Roger T. Ames. 1998. “Chinese Philosophy.” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by E. Craig. London: Routledge. Accessed August 4, 2020. /G001SECT10. DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-G001-1.

Hu, Weixi 胡偉希. 2002. Zhishi, luoji yu jiazhi – Zhongguo xin shizai lun sichaode xingqi 知識,邏輯與價值 - 中國新實在論思潮 的興起 (Knowledge, Logic and Values—The Rise of New Chinese Realism). Beijing: Qinghua daxue chuban she.

Meissner, Werner. 1990. Philosophy and Politics in China: The Controversy over Dialectical Materialism in the 1930s. Translated by Richard Mann. London: C. Hurst & Co.

Rockmore, Tom. 2019. “Hegel and Chinese Marxism.” Asian Studies 7 (1): 55–73.

Rošker, Jana. 1996. Metodologija medkulturnih raziskav. Ljubljana: Filozofska fakulteta Univerze v Ljubljani.

Ryden, Edmund. 2002. “Translator’s Preface.” In Zhang Dainian: Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy, translated and edited by Ryden, Edmund XV–XVII. London, Beijing: Yale University Press, Foreign Languages Press.

Tian, Chenshan. 2019. “Mao Zedong, Sinization of Marxism, and Traditional Chinese Thought Culture.” Asian Studies 7 (1): 13–37.

Sernelj, Téa. 2019. “Modern Confucian Objection Against Communism in China.” Asian Studies 7 (1): 99–113.

Zhang, Dainian 張岱年. 1982a. Zhongguo zhexue dagang 中國哲學大綱 (An Outline of Chinese Philosophy). Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chuban she.

–––. 1982b. Qiu zhen ji 求真集 (Searching for the Truth). Changsha: Hunan renmin chuban she.

–––. 1984. Zhang Dainian wenji 張岱年文集 (A Collection of Zhang Dainian’s Essays). Beijing: Qinghua daxue chuban she.

–––. 1988. Wenhua yu zhexue 文化與哲學 (Culture and Philosophy). Beijing jiaoyu kexue chuban she.

–––. 1996. Zhang Dainian quan ji. 張岱年全集 (Collected Works of Zhang Dainian). 8 Volumes. Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chuban she.

–––. 2000. “Zenyang xuexi Zhongguo zhexue shi? 怎樣學習中國哲學史?” (How to Learn the History of Chinese Philosophy?). In Zhongguo zhexue sanbai ti 中國哲學三百題 (300 Questions Regarding Chinese Philosophy), edited by Xia Nairu, 1–2. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chuban she.

–––. 2002: Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy. Translated and edited by Edmund Ryden. New Haven, London, Beijing: Yale University Press, Foreign Languages Press.

–––. 2003. Zhongguo zhexue shi fangfalun fafan 中國哲學史方法論發凡 (Introduction to the Methodology of the History of Chinese Philosophy). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

Zhexue da cidian, xiuding ben shang, xia 哲學大辭典修訂本, 上,下. 2002. (The Great Encyclopedia of Philosophy—An Actualized and Expanded Edition in two Volumes). Edited by Feng Qi. Shanghai: Cishu chuban she.

Zhexue xiao cidian 哲學小辭典. 2003. (A Small Philosophical Dictionary). Edited by Yu Penglin, Zhang Liangyi, and Liao Jianhua. Shanghai: Cishu chuban she.



7. 05. 2021

How to Cite

Rošker, Jana S. 2021. “Modernization of Chinese Philosophical Methodology: Zhang Dainian’s Innovation and the Challenges of Neo-Materialism”. Asian Studies 9 (2): 121-41.

Similar Articles

1-10 of 313

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 5 6 > >>