2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Nation, History and Ethics: The Choices of Post-Imperial Historiography in China

Axel Schneider

Professor of Modern China Studies, Leiden University

This article focuses on Liu Yizheng’s theory of history and his ideas on the relationship between history and ethics. Although Liu seems to resemble in many aspects a modern historian, adopting new methods and ideas, after 1925-26 he increasingly relied on a view and theory of history centered on the traditional notion that “the core of history is ethics”. In contrast to contemporary Western historians and the crisis of ethical relativism triggered by historicism, Liu relies on history to illuminate and confirm China’s ethical tradition and the socio-political order centered on the rule by virtue. However, Liu Yizheng, nevertheless wants to partially modernize historiography and the socio-political order. Therefore his thought is both conservative and yet modern.


Keywords: Liu Yizheng; traditional Chinese historiography; ethics and history; crisis of historicism; conservatism, nationalism