Book ID: CBB127543370

China's Philological Turn: Scholars, Textualism, and the Dao in the Eighteenth Century (2018)


Sela, Ori (Author)

Columbia University Press

Publication Date: 2018
Physical Details: 328
Language: English

In eighteenth-century China, a remarkable intellectual transformation took place, centered on the ascendance of philology. Its practitioners were preoccupied with the reliability of sources as evidence for restoring ancient texts and meanings and with the centrality of facts and truth to their scholarship and identity. With the power to construct the textual past, philology has the potential to shape both individual and collective identities, and its rise to prominence consequently deeply affected contemporaneous political, social, and cultural agendas.Ori Sela foregrounds the polymath Qian Daxin (1728–1804), one of the most distinguished scholars of the Qing dynasty, to tell this story. China’s Philological Turn traces scholars’ social networks and the production of knowledge, considering the texts they studied along with their reading practices and the assumptions about knowledge, facts, and truth that came with them. The book considers fundamental issues of eighteenth-century intellectual life: the tension between antiquity’s elevated status and the question of what antiquity actually was; the status of scientific knowledge, especially astronomy, mathematics, and calendrical studies; and the relationship between learned debates and cultural anxieties, especially scholars’ self-characterization and collective identity. Sela brings to light manuscripts, biographies, letters, handwritten notes, epitaphs, and more to highlight the creativity and openness of his subjects. A pioneering book in the cultural history of intellectuals across disciplinary boundaries, China’s Philological Turn reconstructs the history of eighteenth-century Chinese learning and its long-lasting consequences.

Reviewed By

Review Martin Hofmann (2019) Review of "China's Philological Turn: Scholars, Textualism, and the Dao in the Eighteenth Century". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 602-603). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Chu, Pingyi
Di, Li
Tian, Miao
Guo, Shi-rong
Yao, Chuansen
Qu, Anjing
Nei Menggu Shifan Daxue Xuebao (Ziran Kexue Ban)
Guangxi Minzu Xueyuan Xuebao
Ziran Kexueshi Yanjiu (Studies in the History of Natural Sciences)
Ta-lu ts'a-chih
Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Princeton University
Ke xue chu ban she
Oxford University Press
New York, City University of
Hempen Verlag
East Asia, civilization and culture
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
Missionaries and missions
Kangxi, Emperor of China
He Guozhu
Hong Chôngha
Yi, You
An, Qingqiao
Jie, Xuan
Middle and Near East
Qing dynasty (China, 1644-1912)
18th century
17th century
19th century
Ming dynasty (China, 1368-1644)
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)
Astronomical Bureau (China)

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