Li Chen

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20072008 Forum on Origins

Li Chen

East Asian Studies, Finance

College and Wharton '09

The Formation, Transformation and Impact of the Thought of “Inheritors of the Orthodox Civilization” in East Asia from the Mid 1640’s to Late 1860’s

Ancient Chinese civilization had long been a cultural resource for her neighboring states. Nevertheless, in the year of 1644, China fell to the conquest of the Manchus. Nothing could be more shocking and overwhelming than this to those neighbors of China. They had been learning the Chinese ways for years. Many of their cultural traditions had originated from China. Now the gorgeous cultural origin was dead, was the Chinese way just simply archaic and thus no longer applicable, or had the Chinese themselves lost the original wisdom and splendor of their ancestors? If the second argument holds, who should be responsible and legitimate for inheriting the orthodox Chinese civilization? And what role did the thought of “Inheritors” play in the subsequent eras of those countries?