Daoist Studies in Germany

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Sinology in Germany Before the 18th Century

Germany did not start its research on Sinology until the 18th century even if there had been some books to introduce China written by the German missioners from Catholic churches. The representative figures at the time were J.Adam Schall von Bell (1591-1666) and A.Kircher (1601-1680). J.Adam Schall von Bell was of a noble family and received traditional classical education in Germany. In 1611, he studied in St. Andreleo Abbey of the Society of Jesus Rome and he admired the missionary experience of Matteo Ricci in China. He became a priest after graduation and left for China through Portugal for his missionary work. In 1623 he arrived in Beijing where he learned Chinese and then moved to Xi'an to do his missionary work. He was highly appreciated by the emperors of the Ming and Qing due to his contributions to making the Shi-Xian Calendar as well as the astronomic instruments and some weapons. The Chongzhen Emperor of the Ming granted him a horizontal tablet with inscriptions "Imperial Praise of Astronomy" ( 欽褒天學 Qingbao Tianxue) and the Shunzhi Emperor of the Qing the title "Master of Communion with Mystery" ( 通玄教師 Tongxuan Jiaoshi ). He was once taken into prison owing to a false accusation and died in Beijing of a disease after he was set free. He resided in China for over forty years, and the three volumes of the Reminiscence of Adam S. Bell were about his experience of his missionary work in China. A.Kircher published his Illustrated History of China in 1667 to introduce religions and customs of China with pictures and accompanying essays, which was widely spreading in Europe during the 17th century. In 1730 Bayer (1694-1738) published the Stories of Natural Sciences of China (Jottings of Rarities and Miscellaneous Stories). Such books written by missioners were simply introductions of some common knowledge about China instead of valuable Sinology.

German Sinologists Staying in France and Sinological Courses in Universities

In 1814 when the course of Sinology was started in Paris, Klaproth (1783-1835) of German attended its lectures. Klaproth learned Chinese at the age of 14 and worked as an interpreter in a Russian delegation to China at the age of 21, and he once learned Mongolian and the Manchu language. In 1815 he went to Paris for studying Sinology. In 1828 he translated the Tablet on the Supreme Correspondence from the Manchu language into French published that book. In 1833 he published in French his essay Daoists' Religion in China. We may conclude that he was the first Sinologist who studied Daoism. In the late 19th century, there were some German Sinologists who began to write books about Chinese Daoism. August Pfitzmaier (1808-1887) published his series of essays on the Academic Papers of Vienna Academy of Science between 1869 and 1885:

  1. The Daoists' Wish for Longevity
  2. Some Propositions on Daoist Beliefs
  3. The Basis of Theories of Chinese Daoism

In his works, he quoted a lot of expressions of Daoists of the Tang about nourishing life. Ernst Faber (1839-1899) the missioner arrived in Hong Kong in 1864 and left for Shanghai in 1886. He did his missionary work among German immigrants and studied Sinology at the same time. Later he published a number of essays about his research on the Confucian thoughts and he was considered as the Sinologist of the highest attainments in the 19th century. In 1873 Faber published the German version of his book An Introduction to Chinese Religious Studies and its English version in 1879. In 1884 and 1885 he presented his essays in German Daoism and Historical Nature of Daoism.

In 1881 Gabelenz (1846-1885) the German Sinologist published on China Report his essays about Zhuangzi and Wenzi in German and an English paper Laozi's Life and His Doctrine. In 1892 Berlin University of Germany started the lectures on languages of the East Asia, which was held by Prof. Grube. Grube (1855-1908) was engaged in some research work in Beijing between 1897 and 1899. He did some investigations on Chinese customs and popular beliefs. After that Grube published his essays the Chinese Religions and Sacrifice Offerings and Religions in Ancient China. His essay Daoist Myths: Biographies of Various Immortals discussed the language of the book and based on it Grube analyzed the Daoist concept of the creation of the world. He studied Chinese popular beliefs and the formation of "the Eight Immortals" and published his essays Influences of Chinese Popular Religions on Buddhism, Popular Gods in Xiamen, and Beijingers' Exploitation of Death. What is most remarkable is that he translated single-handed the first 48 chapters of the Chinese classic novel of myth the Romance of the Gods ( 《封神演義》 Fengshen Yanyi ) into German, which was completed by Herbert.

In 1912 Berlin University in German formally set up lectures of Chinese language that were given by Groot (1854-1921), the Sinologist from Holland. Groot was originally an official in charge of affairs of the Indian colony and later was well known for his study of Chinese Daoism. He published six volumes of The Religious System of China between 1892 and 1910, which became the masterpiece that later Sinologists must read. Between 1903 and 1904 he published another Sinological masterpiece of the world: the two volumes of Sectarianism and Religious Persecution in China. In addition, he published Chinese Religion in English, which was translated into German later. Franke (1863-1946) the German scholar gave lectures of Chinese language in Berlin University as well. He learnt translation at the German Embassy in China in 1888, and became an interpreter and consul at the German Embassy in China after 1890. In 1907 he became professor of Chinese in Hamburger University in Germany, responsible for lectures of Chinese language and culture. Later he transferred to Berlin University. Franke was very versatile in his studies, with the five volumes of the History of the Chinese Empire as his major works. His other books about the Chinese religion are 1900' Books of Religious Studies in China and 1909'Books of Religious Studies in China, both of which were published on Archives of Religious Studies in 1910 and 1915. What he did is quite important for Chinese religious studies in the academic circle of Europe and America. In 1945 the Society of Sino-Germany in Beijing published Franke's A Collection of Speeches and Essays on Chinese Culture and History, which included his discussions on his research on Daoism. After Franke, Forke (1867-1944) took up Sinology as well after his learning Chinese and being an interpreter. From 1903 to 1923, he was professor of Chinese at the College of the Oriental Languages in Berlin University. After 1924 he became a professor of Chinese in Hamburger University, engaged in his study of Chinese philosophy. In 1939 his book the History of Philosophy in Medieval China came out, in which there were such essays as Chinese Mysticism and Gehong as a Philosopher and Alchemist. Wilhelm (1873-1930) the missioner was one of the most influential figures in the field of German Sinology. While staying in China, he spent most of his time in Qingdao doing his missionary work. Before World War I he translated and published the works of philosophical Daoists, including Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Liezi. Later he became the literary consultant at the German Embassy in China. As the China Institute of Frankfort University was founded, he became professor of Chinese there. He thought Laozi was a book about life and virtue whereas Zhuangzi had something mysterious in it. Apart from what has been mentioned above, He wrote the following books:

  1. Practical Knowledge about China
  2. Laozi and his Daoism
  3. The Spirit of China
  4. The History of Chinese Culture
  5. Orient ---- the Formation and Transformation of Chinese Culture
  6. Philosophy in China
  7. Principles of Golden Essence of Supreme Oneness ( 《太乙金華宗旨》 Taii Jinhua Zongshi ): Translations with Notes

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), the famous psychologist, wrote the preface for it and the book was published in English later. Wilhelm Translation and Research Center was founded in Born in honor of him because of his great contribution to Sinology.

Weber's Research on Daoism

Being one of the founders of sociology in Germany, Max Weber (1864-1920) was quite well known as a sociologist, historian, and an economist as well as a politician. He was graduated from Department of Law in Heidelberg University and worked in Berlin University, Heidelberg University, and Munich University as well. The findings of his research were embodied in the three volumes of A Collection of Essays of Religious Sociology. The first volume contained his masterpiece the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and the Economic Ethic of Religions of the World. Weber's Daoist study was part of his research on the religious ethic of the world, which is within the theoretical system of the economic ethic of religions of the world and it is a sort of supplementary of his research on the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Weber thought that the Christian Protestantism formed after the religious reform in the western world promoted the development of modern capitalism in the west. It was because there was not only a sort of affinity between the Protestant ethic and the capitalist spirit, but also because the Protestant ethic was a decisive force that caused the formation of the capitalist system. His intention of writing the book The Religion of China: Confucianism and Daoism was originally to demonstrate that China did not succeed in developing capitalism as the west did, because China did not have the religious ethic as a powerful "lever arm" to advance the development of capitalism. Nevertheless, as Max Weber did not know Chinese language, his research had to be based on the very little knowledge of China that missioners introduced in the course of their colonial activities and the limited translated books of Daoism and Confucianism. As a result it goes without saying that his study of China was inevitable to be biased.

The Religion of China: Confucianism and Daoism is constituted of three sections. The first section is the Foundation of Sociology, which discusses the economic and political system in Chinese society in the following aspects:

  1. cities, feudal princes, and spirits;
  2. the feudal country and the official salary;
  3. administration and agricultural system;
  4. autonomy, law and capitalism.

It pointed out that there existed a series of unfavorable conditions for the development of capitalism in Chinese political, agricultural, and legal systems as well as its consanguinity. The second section deals with the orthodox system of values in Chinese society ---- Confucianism: the scholar class, the Confucian orientation of life and so on. Weber thought the scholar class in Chinese society certainly belonged to the ruling class and the orthodox system of values they represented was Confucianism, which was purely the mundane ethic in the worldly society and which was simply a general code to establish political principles and social rites for the educated mundane people. The third section is about Daoism. It was based on Grube's Religion and Culture of Chinese and Groot's Unity of Heaven and Man: Foundations of Chinese Religions, Ethic, State System, and Science. Weber thought Daoism was excluded by Confucianism and considered as heterodoxy in China. And he found that in the struggles between scholars and their rivals the Daoist believers always took the side of the opponents. Weber mentioned about Zhang Ling, the Celestial Master of Daoism, and he claimed that Zhang's descendants founded a Daoist organization in the unstable era of the declining Han dynasty. This organization had its administration, taxation system, and strict and forceful discipline, succeeding in resisting against the political authority at the time. Weber noticed that Daoism appeared as the heresy of Confucianism. It is true that Daoism was opponent of scholars at first. Weber thought however both Daoism and Confucianism were conventional even if they were against each other. Therefore both of them could not be the "lever arm" to advance the appearance of capitalism.

We have to point out that in the common sense or at the research level Weber did not surpass his European contemporaries in his Daoist study. Weber claimed that Daoism was antirational with its primitive witchery, kinds of therapies, techniques of longevity, and skills of dispelling disasters. It is quite natural for Weber to have such opinions about Daoism, for many European Sinologists who had Christian or Catholic background shared the similar ideas at the beginning of the 20th century. From the perspective of the religious organization, he thought that Daoism was the community of witches whereas Chinese Buddhism, as far as the form transmitted to China was concerned, was no longer the same as early Indian Buddhism for salvation. Instead Buddhism had become the organization of monks to practice secret skills or sorcery. In fact Daoism and Buddhism, so far as the mundane are concerned, did not become religious groups decisive in the sociological sense. In the respect of the religious teachings he analyzed that the Daoist doctrine did not have any rational effects, nor did it form a force to contend with other forces though it was different from the crude witchery or the universalist theory. His analysis had properly referred to the religion of the west. In his eyes Daoism was just piles of witchery, kinds of therapies, and skills of longevity, and techniques of dispelling disasters although he realized Daoism was the religion of the mundane against orthodox Confucianism.

Daoist Studies in Germany around World War II

At the eve of World War II the German Sinologists swarmed into some other countries from Germany, and one of them was the son of Wilhelm. Born in Qingdao of China, Hellmut Wilhelm taught German in Beijing University and took charge of the Society of Sino-Germany. In 1948 he went to the United States as a professor at the Orient College in State University of Washington. Some of his works are the Chinese History of Ideology and Society and the Chinese Society and State: the History of an Empire. He had helped his father with the translation of the Book of Changes, and he wrote the Book of Changes: Annotated Translations, which was translated into English later. At the same time, he was famous for his lectures of the Book of Changes, whose influence on the studies of the Book of Changes has lasted in the Western Europe until today. In the meantime Erkes wrote the Origin of Daoism and the Origin of Daoists.

After World War II Sinology in Germany was not very prosperous. In recent twenty years, however, more and more university and middle school students of Germany are learning Chinese and Sinology gradually gets prosperous. Nevertheless German Sinologists attach their major importance to Confucianism and Confucian idealist philosophy in the Song and Ming dynasties, which is in accordance with the ideological tradition in their academic circle. In a word the Daoist studies in Germany after the war has continued what they did before the war and has been influenced by France.

Wolfgang Franke

He is the son of Franke the Sinologist. He came to China in 1937 and worked in the Society of Sino-Germany. In 1950 he returned to Germany as a professor of Hamburger University. His works are as follows:

  1. Annotated Bibliography of the History Books of the Ming ( 《明史書目題解》 Mingshi Shumu Tijie )
  2. The 100 Years of Chinese Revolution
  3. China and the West
  4. Franke's works on Daoism are the Three-One Tradition ( 三一教 Sanyi Jiao ) and its Development in Singapore and Malaysia and Reviews on Lin Zhaoen

Werner Eichhorn

He has a lot of works on Chinese culture, Chinese religion, and Daoism. They are

  1. Daoist Speculation in Chapter 2 of Zhuangzi
  2. Description of the Rebellion of Sun En and Earlier Daoist Rebellions
  3. A Textual Research on Zhangjiao Uprising and Zhanglu's Political Power
  4. The History of Chinese Culture
  5. The Values and Legal Status of Buddhism and Daoism in the Song
  6. Chinese Religions
  7. Religion and State Worship in Ancient China

Joseph Thiel

He is mainly engaged in studying the history of the Yuan dynasty. He wrote about the debate between Buddhism and Daoism in his book the Debate between Buddhism and Daoism in the Yuan Dynasty. His other works are Epistemological Problem in Zhuangzi (Das Erkenntnis problem bei Chuang-tzu) and the Concept of the Dao in the Book of Dao and its Virtue.

Wolfgang Bauer

He has written the following books:

  1. A Study of the Old Man of the Yellow Stone ( 黃石公 Huangshi Gong )
  2. China and the Exploration of Happiness --- Heaven and the Ideal State in the Chinese History of Ideology
  3. Gehong' Theory of Inner Elixir
  4. The Worship of the Stone Genitals in Today's Taiwan of China

Hans Steininger

Hans Steininger, a professor of Wurzburg University, is famous for his study of Guan Yinzi and the Perfect Book of Wenshi ( 《文始真經》 Wenshi Zhenjing ). In 1965, he gave lectures on the literature of the Far East in Wurzburg University and founded the Institute of Sinology. In 1979, cooperated with Prof. Schipper, he joined in the research work on the Annotated Bibliography of the Daoist Canon. He is the international member of the Daoist Society of Japan, and he had a close relation with the Institute of Japanese Culture of Tokyo University and Department of Literature of Waseda University. In 1985 when it was his 65th birthday, a collection of 30 essays Oriental Religions and Philosophy was published in honor of him. It had four sections: Daoism, Buddhism, the other religions, and philosophy. The essays that are related to Daoism are as follows:

  1. Yueyang and Poems of Lv Dongbing ---- Poems of Refining Elixir of the Song
  2. The Changing History of Sacrifice Offerings in the Wutong Era
  3. Interpretations to Refining Elixir in the Novel A Journey to the West
  4. The Celestial Master's Means of Defining Heaven's Will
  5. The Role of the Imperial Sovereign Donghua in Transmitting Daoism
  6. Daoists's Integration of the Three Doctrines in the Song and Yuan
  7. Daoist Ordination Ranks in the Dunhuang Manuscripts
  8. The Records of the Pervasive Perfection ( 《洞真記》 Dongzhen Ji ) by Guo Xian
  9. The Eighty Commandments of the Venerable Sovereign ( 《老君八十戒》 Laojun Bashi Jie )
  10. License to the Other World ---- Views of Death Embodied by the Tomb-Contracts of the Later
  11. Han (Traces of Han Religion in Funeral Texts Found in Tombs)
  12. The Therapy Ritual as the Therapy and the Ideas of Evils in Early Daoism

After the war, many German Sinologists stayed in France or Japan for their Sinological studies, some of whom are usually considered as French or Japanese Sinologists. For example, Anna Seidel was regarded as a French Sinologist. And some others returned to Germany. For example, Farzeen Baldrian-Hussein studied the Daoist inner elixir in the Advanced French Academy. She published her dissertation on the translation and research of the Secret Skills of Numinous Treasure ( 《靈寶秘法》 Lingbao Mifa ). Her other essays are Yueyang and Poems of Lv Dongbing ---- Poems of Refining Elixir of the Song, Lv Dongbing in Literature of the Northern Song, Daoism: Summa, Inner Elixir, and so on. She is now teaching in Wurzburg University.