The Search for Spiritual Inwardness in Modern Society: Zong Baihua’s (1897-1986) Aesthetic Vision in the 1920s and 1930s

By Ricardo K. S. Mak.

Published by The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: July 1, 2016 $US5.00

Owing to its tremendous industrial and technological growth since the late nineteenth century and its seemingly miraculous recovery after WWI, Germany rose during the interwar years as a hotspot for Chinese students seeking advanced education opportunities. However, having encountered the modernity characterized by materialism, bureaucracy, instrumental rationality, etc., in Weimar Germany, some of them turned to reflect on human conditions in modern society and to search for an alternative approach to China’s future development. Inspired by the German cultural ideals of “Bildung” (forming of the soul) and “Innerlichkeit” (inwardness), Zong Baihua (1897-1986), a German-educated thinker that this article examines, reaffirmed in the 1930s the values of self and interiority deeply rooted in Confucianism. Embedded in Zong’s aesthetics in this period, which hybridized the Confucian values and German philosophy, was his hope to re-create among the Chinese people a self-sustainable “self” that not only withstood the perils of modernity, but also served as foundation of China’s cultural reconstruction.

Keywords: Inwardness, Confucianism, Modernity

The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies, Volume 14, Issue 3, September 2016, pp.15-27. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: July 1, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 573.735KB)).

Ricardo K. S. Mak

Professor, Department of History, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong