China and Charles Darwin


Although Charles Darwin never visited China, his ideas landed there with force.

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Darwinism was the first great Western theory to make an impact on the Chinese and, from 1895 until at least 1921, when Marxism gained a formal foothold, it was the dominant Western "ism" influencing Chinese politics and thought. The authority of Darwin, sometimes misiniterpreted, influenced reformers and revolutionaries and paved the way for Chinese Marxism and the thought of Mao Tse-tung.

This study evaluates Darwin's theory of evolution as a stimulus to Chinese political changes and philosophic challenge to traditional Chinese beliefs. James Pusey bases his analysis on a survey of journals issued from 1896 to 1910 and, after a break for revolutionary action, from 1915 to 1926, with emphasis on the era between the Sino-Japanese War and the Republician Revolution. The story of Darwinism in China involves, among others, the most famous figures of modern Chinese intellectual history.

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