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Asian Pacific Monograph Series Publishes New Edition of Key Work on Chinese Intellectual History

Asian Pacific Monograph Series Publishes New Edition of Key Work on Chinese Intellectual History

UCLA Asian Pacific Monograph Series announces publication of new edition of From Philosophy to Philology: Intellectual and Social Aspects of Change in Late Imperial China.

By Leslie Evans

Intellectual life of China’s literati in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

The UCLA Asian Pacific Monograph Series, the publishing imprint of ISOP’s Asia-Pacific Institute, has announced the publication of a fully revised edition of UCLA history professor Benjamin A. Elman’s pioneering workFrom Philosophy to Philology: Intellectual and Social Aspects of Change in Late Imperial China. This indispensable book on the intellectual life of China’s literati in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries tells the story of the intellectual revolution following the collapse of the Ming dynasty at the hands of the invading Manchus in 1644. The humiliated Chinese inteligentsia turned away from the moral self-cultivation that had dominated intellectual life under the Ming. China’s scholars, particularly in the Yangzi River Basin, sought to restore China’s greatness by recapturing the wisdom of the ancients from the Warring States period (403-221 B.C.). Confronted by the daunting task of separating authentic ancient texts from later forgeries and interpolations, new standards of rigorous scholarship were invented, academies and libraries were founded, printing and publishing flourished, and bibliographies were compiled and shared. This new movement came to be known as evidential studies (or in Chinese, kaozhengxue). This movement became the Chinese counterpart of the Renaisance in Europe.

The original edition of From Philosophy to Philology was published in 1984 by the Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University. Unavailable for some years, this new UCLA edition has been completely revised, updated, and enlarged by the author, with new material in every chapter and a full new chapter added. It uses Chinese characters throughout for names and titles of works, an important Since its first publication From Philosophy to Philology has been regarded as a central work in the field of Chinese intellectual history. Jonathan Spence, writing in the New York Review of Books, said of it: “Mr. Elman places his eighteenth-century thinkers in a richly evoked setting. In a series of deft and original chapters we are told not only what they thought, but also how and where they thought; about their academies and schooling; their economic backgrounds..., their libraries and their diaries and their social conventions.”

The book is 402 pages and is available in paperback and hardcover editions from the Asia Pacific Institute (www.isop.ucla.edu/api/monographs.htm) or it can be purchased from Amazon.com.

Benjamin A. Elman is a professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Classicism, Politics, and Kinship: The Ch’ang-chou School of New Text Confucianism in Late Imperial China (University of California Press, 1990) and A Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China (University of California Press, 2000)

Asia Institute