Daoist Studies in the Great Britain

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==The appearance of the English translation of "Daoism"== Great Britain was an old-brand capitalist nation. However, it was the navigators of Portugal and Spain who discovered the sea route to China long before the Great Britain began to expand its boundaries. Catholic priests had opened China's door. Therefore, England paid great attention to trade in China from the very beginning. By the middle of 1700s the British total trade amount to China had exceeded that of other countries in Europe. In order to further open up China's market, the British began to study China's diplomacy and military affairs. It was to meet with this need that the British started to study China's culture and religions. So the current English translation "Taoism" came in being after a long process.

In 1873 , a priest named John Chamers(1825-1899) published a paper entitled "tauism" ( the English translation of Daoism at that time). In 1879, Douglas (1838-1913) published "Confucianism and taouism" with English translation taouism for "Daoism".

In 1880, James Legge(1815-1896), a missionary, published a book Chinese Religions. In this book, "Taoism" was firstly used to translate "philosophical Daoism" and "religious Daoism". Since then western experts have been using it till today. James Legge was sent to Malacca and appointed as president of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1839. In 1843 he came to Hongkong and returned to England in 1873. In 1875 he was appointed the first lecture professor of Sinology in Oxford University. When in Hongkong, he translated Chinese classic literature works into English with the sponsoring of an opium monger Charton and the help of Wang Tao and made systematic studies on Chinese religion. In 1852, he published Chinese Ghost Notions and in 1891 he published China's Religions based on his teaching and studying in Oxford University. The subtitle is A Comparison between Confucianism, Daoism and Christianity in which philosophical Daoism and religious Daoism was both translated as "Taoism". He wrote the entry of "Laozi" for the Great Britain Encyclopedia (Vol. 9) in 1882. In 1891 James Legge translated some important Confucian classics including the Four Books into English. Moreover he translated Laozi into English as well. Later, his English versions were taken in the Eastern Holy Classics Series (Vol.39) edited by Marks Mille. Legge's English versions of Chinese ancient classics were so influential that they had been used or cited by western experts ever since. The European and American sinological academy praised highly James Legge's contributions. Thus his translation of "Taoism" had been adopted till now.

After James Legge, Needham Edkins (1823-1905), an agent in Shanghai for the London Missions, preached fifteen years there and published Chinese Religions and later Chinese Religion Conditions. At the same time, he published many articles in Christian Administration Journal and China Review. They are Taoism in Qin and Han Dynasties and Religious Prosecution in China, etc. John Chamers arrived in Hongkong in 1852 and presided in the affairs of Hongkong Branch Association. He had ever translated "Laozi" into English and published it in London with the title A Survey of Laozi's Philosophy, His State Theory and His Book of Dao and its Virtue. After William Edward Soothill (1861-1935) came to China, he preached in Wenzou and in 1907 was appointed as the chief instructor on Western Fasting in Shanxi University. Returning home in 1914, he was sent to China again in 1925 as a member of the Sino-Britian Gengzi Reparation Committee. He was a Chinese Professor in Oxford University and taught student missionaries "Chinese Three Doctrines" after he went back.

In addition to preachers, some administrative officials or diplomats conducted a lot of studies on Chinese Daoism and other religions, among them Edward Harper Parker (1849-1926), Frederic Henry Balfour (1846-1909) and Arthur Waley(1889-1966),etc. were well-known. Edward Harper Parker was a student translator at British legation in China from 1869 to 1871. In 1871-1875 he worked at consulates in Tianjin, Dagu, Hangkou, Jiujiang and Guangzou. He returned in 1895 and was a Chinese lecturer in Liverpool University and later in 1901 a Chinese professor in Victoria University in Manchester. He successively published his works Religion and China, Religion Studies in China. The latter was appended with a catalogue of Daoist research documents, which is of great academic value. Besides, his other essays such as the Book of Dao and Its Virtue Still Alive, Daoism as Religion, Daoism were published in the magazines China Review and Dublin Review. Balfour came to China in 1870 as a businessman of silk and tea. After that he worked in press and publishing house, being the chief correspondent for several newspapers. Meanwhile he was engaged in translating Daoist classics, including the Tablet on Supreme Correspondence, the Book of Purity and Tranquility, the Book of Secret Correspondences, etc.. His translation of the Perfect Book of Nanhua was published in London in 1881. Then in 1884 he got the Daoist Classics (written n English) published in Shanghai. Arthur Waley was a self- taught sinologist and In his youth, he learned classical literature in Lagebe College and the Royal College in Cambridge University and once was an assistant librarian at the book department of the National Museum of Great Britain. Then he taught in the Research Institute on the East and Africa in London University. He had translated the Japanese classic Stories Told by Yuan and in 1931 he translated The Journey to the West of the Perfect Man of Eternal Spring by Daoist Li Zhichang of the Yuan. From 1930 to 1932, Waley had his thesis A Survey of Chinese Alchemy and the Alchemy in Buddhism Books. In 1934, he published his works The Dao and Its Power: Laozi and its Role in China's Ideology, a research on the Book of Dao and its Virtue. Later in 1939, another work on the Book of Master Zhuang named Three Philosophies of Life in Ancient China was published and afterwards was translated into German and French.

It should be pointed out that many English people came to China from the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. They, however, were only interested in political invasion and economical plunders. They didn't know less about China's religion including Daoism than those who came from Europe and America. But they didn't think much of these thoughts and cultures. Accordingly, England didn't exert to found a traditional position of sinological studies, nor did it train generations of sinologists. In their eyes, the cultures of Egypt, India and China were past in history and they had been the losers.

Needham Needham's (1900-1995) studies on Daoism

He was considered the most famous among the contemporary learners in England who studied Daoism. Out of his respect for China's philosophical and religious Daoism, Needham Needham translated his family name as Li, showing he respect to Laozi Lier as his Forefather. His style was "Elixir Shinning " and he assumed himself "the Tenth Veteran Daoist". In 1922 he graduated from Cambridge University and obtained a Doctor Degree for philosophy in 1924. In his early years, he was engaged in bio-chemical studies. In 1931 he published Chemical Embryology, which described the whole process of chemical changes in embryonic development. Thus he was known as the "father of chemical embryology". In 1937 he got in touch with three Chinese learners and became interested in China and began to learn Chinese. He devoted the rest of his life to linking up the activities between the East and the West, between China and Europe. In 1939, he wrote the first paper on China's science history. In 1942 he came to Chongqing as science counselor of British Embassy in China in charge of the sino-Britain cooperation in science. After the Second World War, he was appointed as the director of science department in UNESCO. In March 1946 he delivered a long lecture entitled China's Contributions to Science and Technology in Paris. In May 1947 he made a speech Science and Technology in Ancient China in London. In 1948 he returned to Cambridge University, setting about writing The History of China's Science and Technology. The original English title can be translated into China's Science & Civilization. It was firstly published in 1954. It planed to have seven volumes published. Now it intends to publish twenty.

Parts of Needham Needham's The History of China's Science and Technology are closely related with Daoism. They include the History of Science Thoughts (Vol. 2, 1956); the section about the science of the earth in Mathematics and the Science of Heaven and Earth (Vol. 3, 1959); Physics, book one of Physics and Physical Skills (Vol. 4, 1962); Discoveries and Inventions on Alchemy and Physiological Alchemy, book five of Chemistry and Chemical Industry (Vol. 5, 1983); Botany, book one of Biology and Biological Arts (Vol.6, 1986). The History of China's Science and Technology not only deal with the world meaning of China's science and technology but also introduce the deserved historic position of Daoism in an unprecedented field in the world. Needham Needham wrote in his Human & his Position that "in fact Daoism was the major contributor in the science development in ancient and the mid-century China. As Fou Youlan said, it is the only mysterious system ever seen in the world that is not counter-science." In Needham's opinion, philosophical and religious Daoism are both part of the natural mysticism. "In a certain period in the world history, it is the denial of mysticism, not the rationalism that help the development of experimental science. " Daoism holds a series of complicated and delicate conceptions that are the basis for all China's subsequent scientific thought. For a long time Needham had been using a simple formula to indicate his research results. That is: Daoism promotes science, whereas Confucianism hinders it.

As to Needham's studies on Daoism, some scholars in Japan and America gave their critical views from different aspects. One of the Japanese scholars pointed out in The Well-Organized philosopher Needham that "there are three aspects of Needham's arguments about China's science that are controversial:

  1. Daoism's contribution to science
  2. Chinese organic science with the corresponding one in the West
  3. the relations between natural laws and nature laws.

Firstly, the study on Daoism's contribution to science has only started since Needham. He looked up lots of materials in the documents and history of Daoism that proved convincingly that the thoughts and arts of Daoism have a close relationship with the development of China's science. For example, in The Journey to the West of the Perfect Man of Eternal Spring, the Perfect Man Qiu of Eternal Spring, with his followers, had once observed a total solar eclipse. They had collected the different eclipse time at different places, claiming "as far as the shadow like a fan touches, it is total darkness. Then lights mount on gradually as it goes far. " Needham thought "that probably is the earliest record about the move of the shadow of solar eclipse on the earth."

As to time estimation, Needham believed " the earliest records was written in Engraving Skills by a Daoist named Li Lan in the Northern Wei Dynasty (around 450 A.D)".

As to Chemistry, Needham believed that "Chemistry started in the private laboratories of the Daoist Temples during the Tang Dynasty. It finally achieves some results. A case in point is the gunpowder as a useful weapon. The first testing ground is the battle between Song and Jin."

In A Free Talk about the Authors in Modern History of Science and Technology Needham said: "We should solute China's records on sunspot ever since the 1st century B.C. We should solute the earliest sylvite combustion test in the world conducted by Tao Hongjing of the 5th century A.D. We should also solute the first correct interpretation made in 1300 A.D. by Hobert Ahdin Sella about optic circumstances of rainbow. All these have definitely lead to modern science. Moreover, we should observe the practical thinking system indispensable to breed these inventions." It is undoubtedly scientific, objective and historic to study the practical thinking system from the aspect of science development. Anyway, what Needham has done is nothing but a beginning. Consequently there would appear various points of disagreement. After all both his contributions and academic position are universally acknowledged as to the studies on the history of China's science and technology or the studies on the relation between Daoism and science and technology. The New Encyclopedia of Great Britain praises his second volume the History of China's Science and Technology to be "the most perfect document on Daoism's contributions to science"

Piet Van der Loon and other English scholars' studies on Daoism

Piet Van der Loon(1920-) graduated from Leiden University of Holland in 1946. From 1948 to 1972 he was a Chinese professor in Cambridge University, then a lecture professor in Oxford University and he retired in 1987. Now he is an honor member of Cambridge University library, a director of Japan's Daoism Association and an honor member of France Association on Asia. In 1984 he published An Investigation of the collected Daoist Books in Song Dynasty at the Cambridge Research Institute on the East. Th book is written in English and Chinese. For the Chinese part it was entitled A Record of the Public and Private Daoist Books in Song Dynasty. In this part recorded the contents of all the books, including

  1. A New History of the Tang Dynasty, the History of the Song Dynasty,
  2. Comprehensive Annals, A General Investigation of Documents,
  3. A Complete List of Chongwen,
  4. Supplementary Lists from Secretary Province to Four Palace Storehouses,
  5. A Record of the Fasting Readings of the Yuan County with Attached Record and Postscript,
  6. A Record of the Fasting Readings of the Qu County,
  7. the Book List of the Hall of Suichu, Working out the Recorded Fasting Readings,
  8. On the Eastern Temple, Jade Sea, and
  9. Contents of the Daoist Cannon Palace, etc..

The authors themselves proofread all of them and the late Guang Qinghan put them down in fine brushwork. A Record of the Public and Private Daoist Books in Song Dynasty was composed by way of the stroke numbers of book titles. There are a total of 1600 types of about 3600 volumes. As to the part written in English, it consisted of the Contents of the Documents in the Royal Library, the Contents of the Private Documents and the Daoist Canon. It accounts for the nature and inheritance of those books in the Song Dynasty (960-1276 A.D.). Besides, it explains the history of the inheritance of the Daoist books, especially the Song Dynasty emperors' policies to Daoism and its influence on the storage of Daoist books. This book was popularly esteemed soon after its publication in Euro-America as well as in Japan. It opens up a new way and lays a solid foundation for researches on the changes of Daoist books, for it is an important research achievement that records all the Daosit Books in the whole Song Dynasty.

In addition to Piet Van der Loon, some contemporary British sinologists studied Daoism a lot. Angus Charles Graham (1919-1991) was one of them. He was an art postgraduate of Oxford University, a philosophy Doctor of London University and a professor of Eastern and African Research institute in this university. He had for a long time engaged in studying the Book of Master Zhuang and Liezi. His works includes the Inner Chapters of Zhuangzi; the Outer Chapters of Zhuangzi; Zhuangzi: An Investigation of Commentaries in China; and Liezi: the Daoist Classics. Another is Barrett, professor of the Eastern Studies Department of Cambridge University, who wrote Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism in Li Xiang's Thoughts. In addition, he was in charge of the notes to "the history of Daoism studies "in vol. 14 of the Religion Encyclopedia edited by Aliada. He also published many a book review on Daoism research works in the periodical Studies on Asia.