Yangming Learning of thoughts in modern China and Japan: A comparative perspective

Kun Chiang Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this study is to investigate the development and image of modern Chinese-Japanese Yangming Learning. In terms of its development, Yangming Learning became fashionable with long-standing historical status in Japan because it was one of the essences and motivation of Meiji Restoration and got promoted by Inoue Tetsujiro who advocated the importance of national ethics in 1900s after Meiji Restoration when Reformation School like Liang Chi-chao claimed to conquer Japan, the time when theory of "Knowing is more difficult than action" was advocated by Revolution School like Sun Yat-sen. Yangming Learning is philosophy thinking based upon principle of "The unity of knowledge and practice", thus, the revival of modern Chinese Yangming Learning is somewhat relevant to Reformation School's experience of studying in Japan or Revolution School's experience of fleeing in Japan. In the features of its development, three phenomena for Japanese Yangming Learning after Meiji Restoration are as follows: (1) "As a Yangming Learning that is anti-Western atmosphere and anti-Western learning; (2) As a Yangming Learning that promotes national ethics by "nationalism" and "pacifist"; (3) As a Yangming Learning for advocates of civil rights and religion. To sum up, the development of modern Japanese Yangming Learning demonstrates its diverse and confrontational characteristics. Yet, the observation of Chinese Yangming Learning development during the era of late Qin and early Republic indicates elites of Yangming Learning at the time still dealt with the challenges and response to Western scientific and democratic viewpoints classified by the author as follows: (1) As a Yangming Learning with Reformational and revolutionary image; (2) As a Yangming Learning to preserve essence of Chinese culture; (3) As a Yangming Learning to study into philosophy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-85
Number of pages51
JournalTaiwan Journal of East Asian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Dec
Externally publishedYes


  • Inoue Tetsujiro
  • Liang Chi-chao
  • Meiji restoration
  • Yangming Learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • General Arts and Humanities


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