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Chinese Modernity: Nationalism, Imperialism, And The Liberal Cosmopolitan Alternative

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Chapter Summary

Charles Taylor's notion of alternative modernity combines a sophisticated line of modern Western philosophical thought with the contemporary social concern of cultural pluralism. Chinese modernity contains two essential elements: "modern" refers to its temporal and historical dimension while "Chinese" refers to its spatial and geographical location. After the War, Chinese intellectual discourses had a significant paradigm shift. Two competing discourses arose to answer the critical needs of the times: one as represented by Zhang Zhidong's theory of "zhongti xiyong" and the other as represented by the enlightenment discourses of Liang Qichao. Chinese nationalism is certainly the dominant discourse of Chinese modernity; cosmopolitanism constitutes a competing voice in shaping Chinese modernity out of Western military and cultural intervention. An examination of GU Hongming's works helps us foreground the tensions between nationalism and cosmopolitanism that characterize Chinese modernity.

Keywords: Chinese Modernity; Chinese nationalism; cosmopolitanism; Gu Hongming; Liang Qichao; Zhang Zhidong



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