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 Mou Zongsan, Xu Fuguan, Zhang Junmai, Tang Junyi, and Xie Youwei,

"Manifesto on Behalf of Chinese Culture Respectfully Announced to the People of the World: Our Joint Understanding of Sinological Study and Chinese Culture with Respect to the Future Prospects of World Culture" [1a]


Translation by Eirik Lang Harris [1b]

New Confucianism is perhaps the most influential form of Confucian philosophy in the twentieth century. The following essay, published on New Year’s Day 1958, is often referred to as the "New Confucian Manifesto" (even though that particular phrase never occurs in it). New Confucians acknowledge that China must adopt Western science, technology, and democracy. Nonetheless, New Confucians believe the West also has much to learn from traditional Chinese culture. In the first parts of this essay, the co-authors argue that Chinese culture has been systematically misunderstood, both by Westerners and recent Chinese scholars. What all of them failed to appreciate, the authors of the essay argue, is that China has "a single cultural system with a single origin." New Confucianism thus shares with Neo-Confucianism (referred to in this essay as "Song-Ming Confucianism") the belief that there is an "orthodox lineage" of Confucianism, going back to Kongzi and Mengzi, that is associated with a particular understanding of the mind, nature, and Pattern. This contrasts with Western civilization, which is more fragmented because of its multiple sources: “Western science and philosophy came from Greece, its legal system from Rome, and its religion from the Hebrews.” Consequently, while the West takes for granted divisions between abstract speculation and concrete ethical practice, and between religious piety and socio-political action, Chinese culture sees these as part of a continuum (Part 4, not included here). Because of these differences, Western scholars have often failed to see the "religious feelings of transcendence" that are present in everyday Chinese ethical practices. The reality of this religious commitment is evident in the willingness scholars have shown throughout history to die for ideals like benevolence, righteousness, and the Way (Part 5, not included here). In Parts 6, 11, and 12 of the Manifesto, translated below, the authors describe what they take to be the distinctive teaching of Chinese civilization, argue what the West needs to learn from it, and present a vision of world civilization. (All footnotes are by the translator unless otherwise indicated.) —Eds. 


Part 6: The Meaning of China’s "Learning of the Mind and Nature"

Part 11: Our Hopes for Western Culture and What the West Should Learn from Eastern Wisdom

Part 12: Our Hopes for World Learning


 [1a]  Every reasonable effort has been made to determine the copyright status of the original Chinese essay, but we have not yet been able to locate a rights holder. The publisher would be grateful for any information that will aid in that search. On instructions from a legitimate rights holder, we will of course take this translation down. In the interim, we cannot grant permission for the reprinting or distribution of this translation in any format or for any purpose. All rights to this translation are reserved.

[1b]  This translation is based on 牟宗三, 徐復觀, 张君劢, 唐君毅, “为中国文化敬告世界人士宣言 ─我们对中国学术研究及中国文化与世界文化前途之共同认识” in 《當代新儒家》, edited by 封祖盛 (Beijing: Sanlian shuju, 1989), pp. 1–52. For a complete, but awkward, English translation, see Carson Chang, Hsieh Yu-wei, Hsu Foo-kwan, Mou Chung-san, and Tang Chun-i, "A Manifesto on the Reappraisal of Chinese Culture," in T’ang Chun-i, Essays on Chinese Philosophy and Culture (Taipei: Student Book Company, 1987), pp. 492–562.