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Persons in Chinese History - Dai Jitao 戴季陶

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Dai Jitao 戴季陶 (1891-1949), actual name (ming) Dai Chuanxian 戴傳賢, style Tianchou 天仇 or Li Yuan 孝園, was a philosopher and politician of the first half of the 20th century, and the main theoretician of the Nationalist Party Kuomintang 國民黨 (KMT). His family hailed from Wuxing 吳興 (modern Huzhou 湖州, Zhejiang), but Dai Jitao was raised in Guanghan 廣漢 in Sichuan. In 1902 he attended a preparation school for abroad studies in Japan where he was influenced by his teacher Xu Jiong 徐炯 and became an opponent of the ruling Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911). Arrived in Japan he enrolled at the Shihan gakkō 師範學校, and in 1907 became a student of Law at the Tōkyō Nihon daigaku 東京日本大學. Two years later he returned to China and became a teacher in his own research institute in Jiangsu. In 1910 Dai Jitao became chief editor of the Tianduobao 天鐸報 in Shanghai, a newspaper advocating revolutions against the Qing. Fearing arrestation, he fled to Japan and then to Malaysia, where he continued publishing and edited a newspaper called Guanghuabao 光華報. During that time he became a member of Sun Yat-sen's (Sun Zhongshan 孫中山) "Revolutionary Alliance" Tongmenghui 同盟會.
After the 1911 revolution he went to Shanghai and then became a secretary of Sun Yat-sen who set up his counter-government in Guangzhou 廣州 (Canton). Dai Jitao was chairman of the Law Committee of the Military Government (Junzhengfu fazhi weiyuanhui 軍政府法制委員會) and later became a member of the Central Government and Minister of Propaganda (xuanchuan buzhang 宣傳部長), and finally President of the Examination Court of the Nanjing Government (Guomindang Nanjing zhengfu kaoshiyuan yuanzhang 國民黨南京政府考試院院長). During this time he continued publishing and edited the journals Xingqi pinglun 星期評論 and Jianshe 建設. Dai Jitao headed the Central News Agency (Zhongyang tongxun she 中央通訊社). In February 1949, facing the supposable victory of the Communists, he committed suicide.
As the main theoretician of the KMT Party Dai Jitao in 1925 published a book on the philosophy of late Sun Yat-sen, the Sun Wen zhuyi zhi zhexue jichu 孫文主義之哲學基礎 "The philosophical foundations of Sunyatsen-ism", a book that was revised in 1945 and republished as Sanming zhuyi zhi zhexue jichu 三民主義之哲學基礎 "The philosophical foundations of the Three Principles of the People". He also wrote a book on the revolutionary view of the KMT, the Guomin geming yu Zhongguo Guomindang 國民革命與中國國民黨 "The Republican Revolution and the Kuo-min-tang". The political philosophy of this book has been called Daijitao-ism (Dai Jitao zhuyi 戴季陶主義), as an advancement of Sunyatsen-ism. In Dai Jitao's eyes the theory of the Three Principles of the People (sanmin zhuyi 三民主義), developed by Sun Yat-sen, was a philosophy for the livelihood of the people. The people's livelihood was an expression of the "great virtue" (da de 大德) under Heaven. "Kindheartedness and love" (ren ai 仁愛) were the basics of the people's livelihood. In his eyes, the thoughts of Sun Yat-sen were the orthodox thought of China, and a perpetuation of the kindhearted government of the mythical rulers Yao 堯 and Shun 舜 and of the philosophy of Confucius 孔子 and Mengzi 孟子. These had stressed that a government of virtue, and a society of kindheartedness and appropriate behaviour would benefit everyone. In modern times, the Confucian culture of the past was to be unified with modern science, in order to create a "culture of scholarship" (xueshu de wenhua 學術的文化). Confucius' philosophy had also basically been a philosophy for the livelihood of the people. The principles of this philosophy had been seen in the Classic Zhongyong 中庸, while the application of it was explained in the Classic Daxue 大學. Confucianism was a philosophy in which all members of society had mutual responsibility. Dai Jitao explained that Sun Yat-sen had been a Great Saint (dasheng 大聖) who had walked in the footsteps of Confucius and tried realizing the old master's philosophy in practice. In a system of mutual support (huzhu 互助), man was to overcome the individualist restrictions of a Darwinist society in which each individuum fought for its own. Dai Jitao was an idealist who was vehemently opposed to the materialist worldview of the Communists who advocated class struggle as a solution for social problems.
Except the above-mentioned writings, Dai Jitao has written the books Qingnian zhi lu 青年之路 "The way of the youth", Xuelilu 學禮錄 "Learning propriety", Dongfang minzu yu Dongfang wenhua 東方民族與東方文化 "The peoples of the East and the culture of the East" and Zhongguo wenhua zai shijie zhi diwei ji yi jiazhi 中國文化在世界之地位及其價值 "The position and value of Chinese culture in the world". His collected writings are known as Dai Jitao xiansheng wencun 戴季陶先生文存.

Source: Pang Pu 龐樸 (ed. 1997), Zhongguo ruxue 中國儒學 (Shanghai: Dongfang chuban zhongxin), Vol. 2, p. 314.

March 28, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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