China enchanted [electronic resource] : transformations of knowledge in the enlightenment world
- Alexander Isaac Statman.
- Physical description
- 1 online resource.
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|3781 2017 S||In-library use|
- This study shows that European scholars gave up on China as a rational model for civilization and came to see it instead as an esoteric alternative, through genuine engagement with indigenous Chinese traditions of history and natural philosophy. Toward the end of the Enlightenment, the philosophes began to criticize the civilization of China because it seemed stuck in the past; other savants came to praise it for the very same reason. For those who challenged the emerging view of progress, China still had much to offer. Like gunpowder, printing, and the compass, other Western knowledge might have also had ancient Chinese antecedents: Had the sage-king Yu the Great known the secrets of modern astronomy? Was the theory of animal magnetism prefigured by yin-yang cosmology? French Scholars looked to Beijing to investigate. There, the ex-Jesuit missionary Joseph-Marie Amiot fostered a global conversation between a French statesman, a Swiss Freemason, a Chinese barber, and a Manchu prince. Together, they searched for Atlantis, discovered kung fu, and invented tarot card fortune-telling. In the process, they cemented the idea of China as a land enchanted. Where early-modern missionaries and scholars had once seen a model of Confucian reason, modern sinologists and philosophers instead saw an alternative of Daoist magic, establishing a new intellectual relationship between China and the West.
- Publication date
- Submitted to the Department of History.
- Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2017.
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