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Science and the Rebuilding of the “Rational Subject” in 1980s China

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image of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Throughout the history of modern and contemporary China, the concept of “science” maintains a crucial significance. Since the May Fourth period, “science” represented the advanced civilization and culture of the West. Because of its critical role, quarrels over the question of science were abundant in China in the years after the Cultural Revolution, notably in the “debates on humanism and science” (kexue lunzheng). Following that, scientific Marxism, which is based on natural dialectics, surpassed other discourses to become of dominated importance to the intellectual discourses of post-Mao China. Scientific Marxism was considered the highest form of truth in revolutionary China, when transcendental truth reigned supreme. Following the Cultural Revolution, intellectuals embracing scientific thought sought to locate “another science” with which to replace scientific Marxism. Addressing an understudied yet crucial aspect of 1980s intellectual history, this paper explores the central ideas and discourses of scientism in this historical moment, as well as the intellectuals who took part in its construction and controversy.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Mokpo National University gramscist@gmail.com

10.3868/s010-005-016-0037-3
/content/journals/10.3868/s010-005-016-0037-3
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/content/journals/10.3868/s010-005-016-0037-3
2016-02-14
2017-11-19

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