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The 'learning of life' : on some motifs in Mou ZongsanU+2019s autobiography at fifty

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

While the twentieth-century Confucian thinker Mou Zongsan (1909U+20131995) has left behind one of the most thought-provoking and intensively studied bodies of philosophical writings in modern Chinese intellectual history, his own life and its relation to his philosophy (or U+201ClearningU+201D), a theme at the centre of his Autobiography at Fifty from the mid1950s, has so far remained largely unexamined. After some introductory remarks on the context and outlook of the Autobiography, my paper turns to the close relation between MouU+2019s conception of life and his approach to the U+201Ccultural lifeU+201D of China as a nation. In doing so, I examine the notion of a distinctly Chinese (more precisely, Confucian) U+201Clearning of lifeU+201D in his writing and explore the motif of U+201Clife in itself U+201D running through the Autobiography. I argue that this motif is crucial for gaining a better understanding of MouU+2019s relation to his teacher Xiong Shili (1885U+20131968), his own father, the social conditions of his childhood in rural Shandong, as well as his overall approach to subjectivity as a space for articulating socio-political concerns.
ISSN: 2350-4226
Issue: 3
Volume: 8
Pages: 35 - 61
Publication year:2020