An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Quanxuepian 勸學篇

Sep 20, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Quanxuepian 勸學篇 "Exhortation to study" is a book of 2 juan length written by the politician Zhang Zhidong 張之洞 (1837-1909) of the late Qing period 清 (1644-1911).

The term quanxue is of very old date, as can be seen in the chapter Quanxue pian 勸學篇 (ch. 1) in the book Xunzi 荀子 and Quanxue 勸學 (ch. 64) in the para-classic Da Da Liji 大戴禮記. Another book of the title dates from the the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) and was written by the Confucian scholar Cai Yong 蔡邕 (132-192). The original text is listed in the bibliographical chapter Jingji zhi 經籍志 in the official dynastic history Suishu 隋書, but not in those of the successor histories, which means that it was lost during the Tang period 唐 (618-907). Thirteen fragments survive, assembled by Ren Dachun 任大椿 (1738-1789) in his series Xiaoxue gouchen 小學鈎沈.

Zhang Zhidong's book dates from 1898 and represents a text on the combination of traditional Chinese teachings – representing the body or substance – and "new" western teachings useful for practical matters (jiu xue wei ti, xin xue wei yong 舊學為體,新學為用). The book is thus directly focusing on the reform project of Kang Youwei initiated in 1898, the so-called "Hundred-Days Reform" or Wuxu bianfa 戊戌變法 in Chinese. Zhang's book consists of 24 chapters, namely the "inner chapters" (neipian 內篇) which describe basic ways to rectify the human heart (yi zheng ren xin 以正人心) and to "strive for kindness" (qiu ren 求仁), and the "outer chapters" (waipian 外篇) pertaining to the wide field of society. The author aims to "make open the right habits and spirits" (yi kai feng qi 以開風氣), and to "strive for wisdom and courage" (qiu zhi yong 求智勇). Students would have to master "five things to know" (wu zhi 五知) corresponding to the Classic Zhongyong 中庸 "The Golden Mean", namely shame, fear, transgression, essentials, and essence.

The author emphasises the importance of using the principles of traditional Chinese teachings (Zhongxue 中學) as the basis of teaching to maintain the morals of the people. Zhang Zhidong advocates the clarification of "the principles of our Chinese forefathers and teachers", before "choosing those Western teachings that could remedy our lack of knowledge". Students would learn to understand the times and expand their knowledge and wisdom, the government would set up schools, adjust curricula, translate books, make the best use of land resources, build railways, and adopt western technology and techniques in order to make China rich and strong. In this way, traditional Chinese teachings would control the mind (Zhongxue zhi xin 中學治心), and Western teachings respond to the necessities of the time (Xixue ying shishi 西學應世事).

Zhang harshly contradicted the creation of parliaments (kai yihui 開議會) and the spread of civil rights (xing minquan 興民權) because they would only create multiple harm and not yield any profits.

Empress Dowager Cixi 慈禧太后 (1835-1908), who took over the regency after the end of the reform movement, greatly acknowledged the book and ordered its nationwide distribution. It was even [incompletely] translated into English by Samuel I. Woodbridge, titled China's Only Hope: An Appeal (Edinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1901), and into French.

The text was printed multiple times and is included in the series Zhexi Cunshe huikan 浙西村舍匯刊 and Jindai Zhongguo shiliao congkan 近代中國史料叢刊, and in Zhang's collected works Zhang Wenxianggong wenji 張文襄公全集.

內篇 Moral
1 同心 United hearts
2 教忠 The inculcation of loyalty
3 明綱 The Three moral obligations
4 知類 The recognition of class
5 宗經 Honour due the Classics
6 正權 Centralisation of power
7 循序 The proper sequence of things
8 守約 Attending to what is vital
9 去毒 Cast out the poison
外篇分 Practical
10 益智 Beneficial knowledge
11 游學 Travel
12 設學 The establishment of schools
13 學制 The study of regulations
14 廣譯 The extensive translation of books
15 閱報 Newspaper reading
16 變法 Reform of methods
17 變科舉 [Reform of civil examinations]
18 農工商學 [The study of agriculture, crafts and trade]
19 兵學 [The study of military affairs]
20 礦學 [The study of mining and smelting]
21 鐵路 Railways
22 會通 Comparative study
23 非弭兵 Maintainting the army
24 非攻教 Religious toleration
Titles according to Woodbridge's translation, apart from those in brackets which he did not translate.
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Chen Yueqing 陳月清 (1996). "Quanxuepian 勸學篇", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升, eds. Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 473.
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Kuang Bailin 鄺柏林 (1988). "Quanxuepian 勸學篇", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Zhexue 哲學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 692.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), ,Vol. 1, 754; Vol. 2, 1611.
Liu Dehua 劉德華 (1993). "Quanxueipian 勸學篇", in Ru Xin 汝信, ed. Shijie baike zhuzuo cidian 世界百科著作辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo gongren chubanshe) 282.
Wang Yuguang 王余光, Xu Yan 徐雁, eds. (1999). Zhongguo dushu da cidian 中國讀書大辭典 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe), 1236.
Wu Jiewen 吳捷文 (1997). "Quanxuepian 勸學篇", in Pang Pu 龐樸, ed. Zhongguo ruxue 中國儒學 (Shanghai: Dongfang chuban zhongxin), Vol. 3, 215.
Wu Tingzhen 吳廷楨 (1988). "Quanxuepian 勸學篇", in Zhao Jihui 趙吉惠, Guo Hou'an 郭厚安, eds. Zhongguo ruxue cidian 中國儒學辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 235.
Zhao Shulian 趙書廉, ed. (1986). Zhonguo zhexue shi xiao cidian 中國哲學史小辭典 (Zhengzhou: Henan renmin chubanshe), 504.
Zhou Guping 周谷平 (1996). "Quanxuepian 勸學篇", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Jiaoyu 教育卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 497.