Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/90

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1. Every individual may understand the fundamental principles of life and of things, including moral laws, by learning to understand his own mind and by developing his own nature. This means that it is not necessary to use the criteria of the past as present-day standards. Each individual is able to determine for himself what is right and wrong. Like Protagoras among the Greeks, Wang Yang-ming among the Chinese held that "Man is the measure of all things."

2. On the practical side, Wang taught that every individual is under obligation to keep knowledge and action, theory and practise together, for the former is so intimately related to the latter that its very existence is involved. There can be no real knowledge without action. The individual has within himself the spring of knowledge and should constantly carry into practise those things that his intuitive knowledge of good gives him opportunity to do.

3. Wang taught that heaven, earth, man and all things are an all-pervading unity. The universe is the macrocosm, and each human mind is a microcosm. This naturally leads to the conceptions, equality of opportunity and liberty, and as such serves well as the fundamental principle of social activity and reform.

Turning to the present reform period, we find two further types of forces at work in the moral development of the Chinese. Of these the first is the work of the modern Chinese reformers, and the second the impact of outside influences upon China. While these are discrete in certain aspects, they coalesce at many points. The ends sought do not differ greatly. The Chinese reformer of the present day recognizes the value of occidental techniques and of the principles of our civilization. This entails a rationalization and socialization of conduct which destroys the value of many Chinese customs and stimulates reflection on problems of conduct.

Among the principal Chinese reformers of the last two decades we may name K'ang Yu-wei, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, T'an Ssu-t'ung, Dr. Sun Yat-sen and the men associated with them. Almost from the first their object was to rid China of the abuses of an absolute form of government. K'ang Yu-wei, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and T'an Ssu-t'ung were intimately connected with the "hundred days of reform" and the "coup d'état of 1898," when an attempt was made to inaugurate a milder, more liberal form of government. T'an was executed the same year, while K'ang Yu-wei and Liang Ch'i-ch'ao escaped. Dr. Sun was connected with a movement in Canton against the government in 1895, as a result of which he became a fugitive. He returned to his country in the autumn of 1911 and became Provisional President of China and a prominent member of the People's Party (Kuo-ming-tang). These men and their associates have done much to awaken an interest in republican principles of government, social reform and individual initiative. Liang