Author’s Preface[1]

Originally this was my paper presented to the Third Annual Meeting of the CPA—Chinese Philosophical Association, Nanking, 1937.[2] The audience members were all professionals in philosophy with such a practically homogeneous mind-set in fons et origio, that no sooner had I proclaimed the themes than they were comprehended. In the following texts, therefore, only a synoptic account of the main ideas is put forward—without further ado to adduce the factual proof thereof in detail.

The final version of the manuscript, though ready for press, has ever been kept in reserve as a lengthy "Prelude" for my book The Sentiment of Life and the Sense of Beauty when finished. Later on, however, it was at the solicitation of the Editor-in-Chief of Philosophical Review in Shanghai that I had mailed him a copy for publication there. But, unexpectedly, the Japanese Invasion War [July 1937] broke out and it was rendered into ashes before being sent through the press. Soon, with the fall of Nanking to the Japanese Troops, alas, all my papers collected over the years were victimized along with the Capital! The present copy is the only one that has survived my retreat inland for refuge.

Meditating in the moment of quiet solitude, I have come to realize that the lofty world attained by philosophical visions should center around A Critique of the Morphology of Culture as its main theme, in order that we can immerse in the inmost of the heart and soul (Geist) of a given people and penetrate into the essence of their feeling and reason [Eros and Logos] before we can come up with something of significance to be said; viz., "deep feeling goes with deep involvement; clear reason mounts with clear transcendence."[3] This idea has been already set forth in The Sentiment of Life and the Sense of Beauty, of which only a portion was published.[4] Unfortunately, with all my private library thus destroyed before the completion of said project, I am now left only with an empty wish—one unfulfilled. As is well put in a verse by Song Zhih-Fang:

New fashioned silk gowns were

Now all given away,

I still keep looking for

The spring dress o’ mine old days!

How depressed, and how blank, must one feel in the same situation!

Although the text abounds in technical terminology that sounds Buddhistic in overtone, they are all employed [as the up~ ya or linguistic devices of expediency] to express ideas of my own, with no pretension whatever on my part to Buddhism. Generally, the cardinal principle for presentation throughout is that of coherence: the main clauses appear first which, if not exhaustive in conveying their meanings, are to be appended with a set of supplementary clauses which, by the same token, are to be further appended with a sub-set of auxiliary clauses, formulated in the serial order, e.g., 6, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.11, 6.111, 6.112, 6.113, 6.114, etc. One thousand words and ten thousand utterances are thus condensed into only a few sentences the meanings of which, again, are consummated in one main sentence. If, however, the meaning of such main sentences still remains incomprehensible, then let us wait for someone who really knows to appear (as Chuangtze says) "in ten thousand generations as if in a moment" (from dawn to dusk)! [5]

Thomé H. Fang

National Central University

Chungking, China

June l5, 1938



[1] Originally first published in The Lantern of Learning, New Current Affairs, Chungking, China, June 19 & 26; included in Thomé H. Fang, Creativity in Man and Nature: A Collection of Philosophical Essays (Taipei: the Dawn Cultural Enterprise, Ltd. Co., 1979), pp. 137-158.

[2] Early in 1920 the author, then aged 21, founded the Chinese Philosophical Association in Nanking, China, and was elected its First President. He delivered the welcome Speech in honor of John Dewey’s visit to the Association in the same year. From 1920 to 1921 he studied History of (Western) Philosophy: the Ancient Period, with Dewey at Jin-ling University (now the University of Nanking) before going to study at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Ohio University, Columbus, Ohio, for graduate work (1921-24). Some thirty years afterwards (in the 50s) he re-established the Association in Taipei.

[3] Literally, "He who gets inside it must needs have deep feeling; yet only he who gets outside it can gain an insight into clear reason." Or, to paraphrase it thus: "Going deep for an inside view [Innerblick] takes the power of profound feeling; going beyond for an overview [Überblick] reveals the prospect of illuminant reason." For "Innerblick" and "Überblick" as used in the sense of "inlook" and "overlook" respectively, see Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West (New York: Alfred A. Kropf, 1926), Vol. I, pp. xiv, 104.

[4] Originally published in Arts and Literature, Bulletin of National Central University, Vol. I, No. 1, Nankihg, 1931, 137-204; included in Fang, op. Cit. in endotes 1, pp. 111-136.

[5] The author concludes his "Foreword" with a classic allusion to what may be called "the paradox of the dreamer" in The Works of Chuangtze, Chapter 2, "Levelling Up All Things." Such a paradox, like the "paradox of the liar" (since Epimenides), involves self-referentiality. Cf. Bertrand Russell’s "Theory of the Logical Types," Principia Mathematica, Vol. I. The original text of Chuangtze reads: ". . .‘Confucius and you are both dreaming.’ I, for one who say that you are dreaming, too, am dreaming. Such a statement is called ‘paradox par excellence.’ If in ten thousand generations from now on, as luck has it, there comes to be such a great sage as is able to decipher its meaning, it is still as if he appears just in a momentfrom dawn to dusk." Englsih translations of this passage vary: Lin Yutang’s rendering of "dan mu" [dawn or dusk] as "around the cornner" is too liberal ; Watson’s, "as if he appeared with astonishing speed," too literal.