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Journal Article

The Defining Character of Chinese Historical Thinking

Chun-Chieh Huang
History and Theory
Vol. 46, No. 2 (May, 2007), pp. 180-188
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4502237
Page Count: 9
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The Defining Character of Chinese Historical Thinking
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Abstract

Imbued with profound historical consciousness, the Chinese people are Homo historiens in every sense of the term. To be human in China, to a very large extent, is to be historical, which means to live up to the paradigmatic past. Therefore, historical thinking in traditional China is moral thinking. The Chinese historico-moral thinking centers around the notion of Dao, a notion that connotes both Heavenly principle and human norm. In view of its practical orientation, Chinese historical thinking is, on the one hand, concrete thinking and, on the other, analogical thinking. Thinking concretely and analogically, the Chinese people are able to communicate with the past and to extrapolate meanings from history. In this way, historical experience in China becomes a library in which modem readers may engage in creative dialogues with the past.

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