Skip to content
Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 17, 2016

Une lecture chinoise d’Arnold Toynbee: Zhang Junmai et le problème de la continuité historique de la culture chinoise

Joseph Ciaudo


The historical continuity of Chinese culture from the early dynasties to modern times is a common topic in Chinese “culturalist discourses”. The intellectuals who wanted to defend the legitimacy of a Chinese culture compatible with modernity almost never put it into question. Zhang Junmai (1887–1969), in a short book entitled the Chinese culture of tomorrow (1936) had the same attitude toward the problem. He spoke about the ‘four thousand years of Chinese civilization’. However, taking this stand is not without raising issues, for Zhang begins his text by building his theory of cultures upon many ideas defended by Arnold Toynbee, in his major work A study of History (1931). As a matter of fact, Toynbee used to divide the history of China into two periods: the Sinic society, and the Far Eastern society. In introducing Toynbee’s studies in China, did Zhang purposely change important aspects of the Study or was he simply lost in translation? Incidentally, was quoting Toynbee simply instrumental in Zhang’s discourse? These are the main questions this research note aims at tackling.

Funding statement: Funding: Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (Grant / Award Number: “DD023-U-13”).


Aron, Raymond (dir.) (1961): L’histoire et ses interprétations : entretiens autour de Arnold Toynbee. Paris: Mouton.Search in Google Scholar

Braudel, Fernand (1993, 1963): Grammaire des civilisations. Paris: Flammarion.Search in Google Scholar

Cheng, Wenxi 程文熙 (1975): « Zhang Junmai xiansheng yu ying shixue jia Taoyinpi shi » 張君勱先生與英史學家陶尹皮氏. Zaisheng 再生 5.11: 14–17.Search in Google Scholar

Ciaudo, Joseph (2014): « Zhang Junmai/Carsun Chang » [en ligne], Site Internet : Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2014, [consulté le 10 mars 2015].Search in Google Scholar

Collingwood, R.G. (1956): The Idea of History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Dikötter, Frank (1992): The Discourse of Race in Modern China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Dirlik, Arik (1978): Revolution and History: The Origins of Marxist Historiography in China, 1919–1937. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Search in Google Scholar

Dirlik, Arif (2006): « Timespace, Social Space, and the Question of Chinese Culture ». Monumenta Serica 54: 417–433.Search in Google Scholar

Febvre, Lucien (1936): « De Spengler à Toynbee quelques philosophies opportunistes de l’histoire ». Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 43.4: 573–602.  Search in Google Scholar

Hon, Tze-Ki (2009): « From a Hierarchy in Time to a Hierarchy in Space: The Meanings of Sino-Babylonianism in Early Twentieth-Century China ». Modern China 36.2: 139–169.Search in Google Scholar

Jeans, Roger B. (1997): Democracy and Socialism in Republican China: The Politics of Zhang Junmai (Carsun Chang), 1906–1941. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Search in Google Scholar

Liu, Lydia H. (1995): Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity – China, 1900–1937. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Montagu, Ashley (dir.) (1956): Toynbee and History: Critical Essays and Reviews. Boston, MA: Porter Sargent.Search in Google Scholar

Spengler, Oswald (1920): Der Untergang des Abendlandes. 2 vol. München: C. H. Beck’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung.Search in Google Scholar

Toynbee, Arnold (1934–1961): A Study of History. 12 vols. London: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Toynbee, Arnold (1987, 1946): A Study of History: Abridgement of Volumes I-VI by D.C. Somervel. New York: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Wesolowski, Zbigniew (1997): Lebens- und Kulturbegriff von Liang Shuming (1893–1988), Dargestellt anhand seines Werkes Dong-Xi wenhua ji qi zhexue. Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica, vol. XXXVIII.Search in Google Scholar

Zhang Junmai (1936): Mingri zhi Zhongguo wenhua 明日之中國文化. In: Minguo congshu 民國叢書, série 4, vol. 40.Search in Google Scholar

Zhang Junmai (1981): « Wo guo sixiang jie de jimo » 我國思想界的寂寞 (1948). In: Zhong Xi Yin zhexue wenji 中西印哲學文集. Taibei : Xuesheng shuju.Search in Google Scholar

Zheng Dahua 鄭大華 (1997) : Zhang Junmai zhuan 張君勱傳. Beijing : Zhonghua shuju.Search in Google Scholar

Zhong Jiemin 鐘介民(1951): Tiaozhan yu huiying 挑戰與回應. Hong-Kong: Ziyou chubanshe.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2016-3-17
Published in Print: 2016-3-1

©2016 by De Gruyter