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Gu Yanwu's Contributions to the Advancement of Learning in Early Qing

by Professor Willard J. Peterson, Gordon Wu '58 Professor of Chinese Studies, Professor of East Asian Studies and History, Princeton University

Date                  18 December 2015
Time                  4:30pm
Venue                V302

If there could be a single progenitor for mainstream Qing learning, it would be Gu Yanwu (1613-1682). The corpus of learning produced by Gu made his work a model for some of his contemporaries as well as for generations of scholars through the Qing period. Different aspects of his scholarship received emphasis at different times, even into the twentieth century. Gu set an agenda for critical, original, text- based learning that undid the two main intellectual commitments inherited from late Ming. He struggled to recover traditions and knowledge about the past, and thereby transmit core values. Gu at the same time was an initiator of a new, tacit set of epistemological assumptions and a new model for advancing open-ended learning.

About the Speaker
Professor Peterson (PhD, Harvard) is a world authority on Chinese intellectual history of the Ming-Qing period and early Chinese thought. His most noteworthy publications include Bitter Gourd: Fang I-chih and the Impetus for Intellectual Change (Yale 1979), “Making Connections: The Commentary on the Attached Verbalizations in the Book of Change,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 42 (1982), and chapters in The Cambridge History of China (1998). He is the editor of the volume on The Qing Dynasty of The Cambridge History of China (2002), and contributor and co-editor of The Power of Culture: Studies in Chinese Cultural History (Chinese University Press 1994) and Ways with Words: Writing about Reading Texts from Early China (University of California 2000).

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