Thomé H. Fang, the Man and His Career

A Profile

Part I

Suncrates and

Sandra A. Wawrytko


Prelude:   A Self-Portrait


                        “If you want to understand a person’s character, the best way is to know his ancestry and environment first.”[1]

——Zhu Guangqian




                                        “I am a Confucian by family tradition;

a Taoist by temperament;

a Buddhist by religious inspiration;

moreover, I am a Westerner by training.”

             ——Thomé H. Fang


On being asked about the philosophical affiliation he belonged to by some curious Western reporters at the 1964 East-West Philosophers' Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, our philosopher replied with the above cited self-portrait.

“How is it possible?” asked again the enquirer.

“That is a fact!” Thus he replied -- so laconically.

Indeed it is.

For such a rare combination, as our subject, of four cultural traditions: China, India, Ancient Greece and Modern Europe, of four disciplines: science, philosophy, art, and religion, in addition to the above listed four intellectual legacies: Confuciansm, Daosim, Buddhism, and Western training in philosophy, there is little wonder that the enquirers would wonder, asking: “How is it possible?” The clue is to be located in his family heritage:  The Tongcheng School of Philosophy from Fang Xuejian to Fang Yizhi is characteristically “comprehensive and synoptic in epitome.”  Our subject, the greatest philosopher of contemporary China, has carried on intellectually and spiritually that splendid Great Fang family tradition which commands our admiration for centuries to an ever higher plane and newer frontier moving towards a genuine Creative Cosmopolitanism in the form of Comprehensive Harmony.  He is committed to the cause of a renaissance of Chinese philosophy so as to promote in resonance a renaissance of world philosophy for our present age -- and ages to come -- in a wholistic global perspective.



Part One :

The Great Fang Saga


1.           “That’s sufficient! – Period

To begin with, let me relate an anecdote I’ve personally heard from a Fang disciple in early 70s.  Once he consulted the Master on a certain question in Chinese classics.  Soon afterwards, he referred the same question to a professor of Chinese literature, at the NTU (National Taiwan University) which he attended; but got a different answer.  He consulted the Master again for further clarification.

“Tell him that is your teacher’s view.  What’s the name of your teacher? ‘Fang’; where is he from? ‘Tongcheng, Anhui.’  That’s sufficient! -- Period.”

“The Old Master seems to be so proud of his family heritage!”  Professor Uen-fu Kuo, the enquirer and a younger friend of mine, intimated me frankly.

 “Surely, it is a well justifiable claim.”  No less frankly did I respond, adding, “Do you know our Master is of royal blood? -- a remote relative with Yellow Emperor; a remote descendant of Emperor Fu Xi – the first founder of the Philosophy of Creativity in history of world thought.  I thus briefed him on the genesis of our Master as follows:


2            Of royal blood!”

Genealogically speaking, with a history of 4700 years in record, the Fang family was originally an offspring from the Jis or the Jiangs, i.e., of the same family with the founders of the great Zhou Empire, Jiang Shang, King Wen, King Wu, and Duke Zhou, etc., further traceable all way up to the legendary Sage Emperor Fu Xi (Shen Nong) of antiquity.

Fu Xi’s 11th generation grand son Prince (Jiang) Lei was our Master’s initial ancestor of the whole Fang family.  In a conjoint operation with Xuan Yuan, Lei defeated Chi You. After victory Lei yielded his right to the crown to the ally commander Xuan Yuan, known in history as Yellow Emperor. Lei became his Left Premier and was granted the Fang Mountain Area as his feudaldom (now in Yuzhou City, Henan Province).  Hence he was officially named after the Mountain as “Fang Lei”.  By marrying his daughter Lady Lui to Yellow Emperor, he became the royal father-in-law; and Lady Lui gave birth to Emperor Shao Hao.  Their 8th century B.C. descendant Fang Shu served as a great general during the reign of King Xuan of the Zhou Dynasty.  From then onwards down to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) -- except of course the short lived Mongolian Rule of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) -- the Fang family has produced a galaxy of eminent personalities in a variety of important roles, commanders, statesmen, educators, philosophers, poets, poetesses, leading men of letters, artists, doctors, revolutionaries, space scientists, and computer scientist, etc., with a culturally glorious heritage hardly to be found elsewhere.  The Fangs have marked over 242 entries in the Chinese Who’s Who Dictionary.

Confucius admitted, “I transmit, but do not create”; whereas the sages of the Fang family in antiquity had done both, so as to provide Confucius with sufficient source data for transmission, to mention a few: The Book of Odes, The Book of Creativity, The Book of History, The Book of Propriety, etc., making four out of the Five Classics – the last one being The Spring and Autumn Annals (a critical political history of his time) -- Confucius’s only work.  It is no exaggerating to say that the great Fang family has prepared the way for the eminence of Confucius looming large, and without the Fang heritage as background, motif, and sustenance, the so called “Confucian” tradition would have to remain much paler than the way it now enjoys!  Comparing these two great culture-families of China, honestly we must admit that the worthy descendants of the Fang family have, with ingenuity and perseverance, created a heritage historically much longer and substantially much more productive and versatile than those of Confucius.


3.      Historical Assessment

Wen Tianxiang (1236-1283), the Zhuang Yuan Premier (i.e., First Place Winner in State Official Service Examination) of the Song Dynasty, who died a martyr to the Mongolian conqueror Kubla Khan, prefaced The Genealogy of the Fang Family thus: “The illustrious Fang family has distinguished itself since the Zhou and the Han dynasties down to the present Dynasty of ours, shining with a glorious prestige perpetuated to posterity.  How admirably prosperous indeed!”  Gao Yang, the well known historical fiction writer on biographical literature, rates the Fang family of Tongcheng as “the one that, by fulfilling the requirement of four cardinal virtues: loyalty, filiality, integrity, and righteousness, proves the first-class family of poetry and cultural refinement that China has produced.” 

In recent studies by Liang Shiqiu,[2] Qian Liqun, and Guo Qian,[3] the Fang family of Tongcheng proves “culturally the most illustrious in China, next perhaps only to the family of Confucius.”

Edward Gibbon, the eminent historian of the Roman Empire of 18th century Engand, speaks highly of Confucius -- the great “paradigmatic individual” with Karl Jaspers :

The family of Confucius is, in my opinion, the most illustrious in the world.  After a painful ascent of eight or ten centuries, our barons and princes of Europe are lost in the darkness of the Middle Ages.  But in the vast equality of the empire of China, the posterity of Confucius has maintained above two thousand two hundred years its peaceful honors and perpetual succession.  The chief of the family is still revered by the sovereign and the people as the lively image of the wisest of mankind.[4]

But, there is reason to believe that, had Gibbon been as familiar with the history of the empire of China as he was with that of Rome, he would have to be no less impressed with “the Glory that is the Fang family” for reasons summarized above. For, severally considered, how many great individuals has the Confucius family actually produced in the last 2600 years, except the one great figure Confucius himself, as compared with the Fang family? The glamour of the Confucius family is more a matter of royal ceremonialism, rather than a matter of individual excellence justly considered.  This riddle of human excellence can be best dissolved by reference to the witty dictum of William Shakespeare: “Some were born great, some achieved greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon’em.”[5]  Which is the case with our subject – Master Thomé H. Fang?  Nothing could be more self-evident.


4.      A House of Nobles

The Fang Mountain of Yuzhou City, Henan, is looked upon as a sacred site, a sort of “Mecca,” for the Fangs the world over.  From this original native place as a center of radiation the Fang family spreads gradually across all over China and abroad.  The usurping regime of the “New” Dynasty founded by Wang Mang (45 B.C. to 23) terminated the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 8), providing a catalyst for the drastic immigration of the Fang family from Central China towards the South.  In an effort to escape from any possible political disasters involved, Mayor Fang Hong of Danyang, Jiangsu (now only 134 miles west of Shanghai) managed successfully to move his family clan from Henan to Dongxiang (Eastern County) of Xixian, Anhui (now Chunan, Zhejiang). Thus he is revered as the common ancestor for all the Fangs in Southeastern China.  We learn also that from the Han to the Song Dynasty the Fang family was so prosperous that it had produced 31 nobles above the rank of count and marquis, well deserving the laudatory tribute of Premier Wen Tianxiang as cited above.


5.      The Guilin Fang

The Saga of the Guilin Fang clan begins with Fang Deyi, of whom little is known except that his forefathers moved from Guangxin (near Shangrao), Jiangxi to Xiuning, Anhui; from there, in the late Song Dynasty, he moved again to Chikou and finally settled in Zongyang, Tongcheng. In the Yuan Dynasty his first son Fang Xiushi served as Chief Secretary to the Mayor of Zhangde, Henan; his first grandson Fang Qian, as Patrolling Officer at Wangting, Jiangsu; and his first great grandson Fang Yuan, as Pacification Emissary for Government. He was such a generous, gracious, far-sighted charitable person that in 1314 he volunteered to donate half of his land property for widening the main street in front of the Confucius Temple in town, followed by building the Auspicious Bridge nearby.  With such charitable acts and community service and contribution, Fang Deyi (Virtue-Beneficence) has been looked up as a paradigm of genteel squire teaching by deed and atmosphere and thus laid down the corner-stone of urban design:  “Respect teachers and care for education” and “Stress on propriety as a matter of cultural refinement.” There is little wonder that in such a milieu and climate, gradually, Tongcheng has become “the Capital of Culture” in the learned minds of China ever since. Though, throughout his life time, neither powerful nor illustrious in the ordinary sense, he scintillates in history beaming with the edificatory lustre of a paradigm.

The next paradigmatic personality of his clan is Fang Fa (1368-1404) of the 5th generation.  As a “Juren” (middle candidate for official service) picked by Fang Xiaoru, a native of Haining, Zhejiang, he was classified under the category of students; hence the latter’s 10th family affiliation.  The victorious rebelling Prince Yan of Beijing (later Emperor Cheng of the Ming Dynasty) ordered Fang Xiaoru to draw the Imperial Edict of Enthronement for the new regime, which he flatly rejected, writing instead “Rebellious Prince Yan usurped the throne by force.”  870 of his family members being executed before his eyes, and tens of thousands involved, he himself was chopped in two by the waist.  At the time Fang Fa was serving as a 6th grade Chief at the Military Court, Sichuan Garrison Command.  He refused to endorse to the legitimacy of the new regime by signing up the Congratulation Memorandum.  He was arrested for trial at Nanking but he committed suicide by drowning himself in the Wang River when the carrier approached Anqing, near Tongchedng.  He cut himself quite a figure in Chinese history not for power and position, nor for merits and deeds, but for great moral courage.  Heroically he died a martyr, a character of principle and integrity.  He was truly the first member of the Great Fang Family to enter upon the stage of history in recent China. He set up a monumental exemplar with enormous paradigmatic influence upon the younger generations, e.g., his 9th generation descendants Fang Yizhi who, in the final moment of existential decision, “To be? or not to be?” found in him a model to follow.

 Fang Mao (1390-1440) of the 6th generation is relevant for the present account in that his five sons all proved so well bred and brilliant that they were called “the Five Dragons of the Fang Family.”  His third son Fang You (1418-1483), our philosopher’s 7th generation ancestor, was the first one to win the highest honor as “Jinshi,” advanced candidate for official service, and was made Imperial Censor as Inspector General for several provinces, such as the North and South Huai River Areas, the Sichuan and Guangxi Provinces, etc.  A character of principle and integrity too, one who put justice above power and authority, he was fearless to offend the powerful eunuch clique, the source of corruption of the time, and was “caned” thirty strokes, demoted to the lower rank as Mayor of Youxian, Hunan and Guilin, Guangxi where he served for only eight months before retirement. Following his obituary service he was accorded the distinction and honor as Member of the County’s Memorial Hall of the Worthies.  He was hailed as “the True Inspector General of the Ming Dynasty!” in spite – or just because – of his frustration in the course of official ascendance.  He brought to the whole family the enviably honorable title of “Guilin Fang.”   His elder first brother was Fang Lin ( 1412-1473 ) and his younger sixth brother, Fang Guan ( 1432-1466 ).  Thus, genealogically speaking, Fang You is of crucial importance for cross reference: Vertically he links our philosopher Thomé H. Fang right up to the first generation ancestor Fang Deyi; horizontally he connects both Fang Lin and Fang Guan, forefathers of Fang Yizhi and Fang Bao representing respectively the dual aspects -- the two wings -- of the Tongcheng School Excellence in philosophy and literature.  (See “Scheme of Family Tree” on the following page)

In contradistinction to his prominent relatives of the above two branches, Master Thomé H. Fang was bred up in the country side with his first elder brother Fang Daohuai working on the land as a farmer and his second, Fang Yihuai (Fang Chen), as a school teacher, who finally became the Principal of the most famous Tongcheng Middle School founded by Wu Rulun, the great educator of late 19th century China, and promoted to the rank of Director, Municipal Bureau of Education.  Master Fang is a remarkable exemplification of those who are not “born great’; nor have “greatness thrust upon’em”; but have “achieved greatness” by their own genius and efforts at deliberate pursuit of excellence in spite of the most unfavorable environments. In certain aspects he may be regarded atypical of the Guilin Fang heritage from the Ming down to the Qing Dynasty, according to a young scholar in History and the Humanities of his native town, Mr. Chen Jing.[6]       




Thomé H. Fang:

   A Brief Scheme of His Family Tree



1st Gen.                                    Fang Deyi 方德益

一世                                                1244-?)


5th Gen.                                          Fang Fa 方法

五世                                            (1368-1404)


6th Gen.                                     Fang Mao 方懋                                   

六世                                             (1390-1440)


7th Gen.  Fang Lin方琳              Fang You 方佑          Fang Guan方瓘

 七世                 1412-1473               (1418-1483)               1432-1466                                                                                                                                                



14th Gen.    Fang Yizhi  方以智                                                

十四世            (1611-1671)      

16th Gen.                                                                   Fang Bao 方苞

十六世                                                                        (1668-1749)      


23th Gen.                                   Thomé H. Fang:                    

廿三世                                 Fang Dongmei 方东美



 Part Two:

From the Country Kid to the Great Philosopher


To his relatives, good friends, and students he is known only as a scholar, a professor of philosophy, one who is serious, upright, seeking neither after fame nor profit, seldom smiling, hardly accessible. As I believe, only I can understand him in his aspect of candor, innocence, and simplicity; for we have lived together daily for fifty years. Dignified as he appears, actually he cares most for feeling and abounds in imaginative power.


Now, he is gone, and his study empty….Raising up my head, at once I saw his picture, the one he favored most, with a smile on the face permeated, to a certain degree, with quixotism, …”[7]


              -- Lilliam J. Fang, “Thomé and Books”


1.      Atypical of the Guilin Fang?

To the famous truism “Behind each great man there is always a great woman” Master Fang is no exception. These few line cited above were drawn by his widowed wife.  He has no better portrait painter.  Mrs. Lilliam K. Fang, the late Professor of Foreign Languages and Literature Department, National Taiwan University, was graduated from the same prestigious Zhongxi (Chinese-Western) Women’s School, Shanghai -- the Welesley of China – as Madame Sun Yat-sen and Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the two internationally best known of Chinese lady celebrities in the West.  At Zhongxi she was a classmate with Yu Dacai, later Madame Fu Sinian, President of National Taiwan University. 


Mrs. Fang’s testimony, as will be seen shortly, sheds much light on  our understanding Master Fang the man, for whom Simplicity is Beauty; Innocence makes Greatness.  He had spent fourteen years of his early life in the country side, as a peasant kid.  Such peasantry virtues as highlighted by Mrs. Fang are the essential features of him. And if we bear in mind his relatively obscure background, in comparison and contrast with his relatives of the other illustrious family branches, admittedly we must admire him all the more for the astonishing achievements he has created.  He has brought the Tongcheng School of Philosophy, a part of his family legacy, to a greater height and newer frontier with profound significance for the world philosophy to come, than any of his forefathers ever could.  Just consider by yourself: How much has he created out of how little!


2.      A Wonder Child

As is customary, Master Fang had a long train of names: genealogical name, Fang Dehuai; original name, Fang Xun (meaning thereby “Beautiful Jade produced of the East”); personal name, Dongmei, hence “Thomé.” 

Thomé H. Fang was born the third son of Mr. Fang Jianzhou (Honorary Advanced Candidate for Official Service)[8] and Lady Yang on February 9, 1899 (Lunar Calendar), at the Dali Estate, Yangshuwan (Poplar Gulf) -- now Shuangxing Village, Yijin Town – Zongyang, Tongcheng, Anhui, China, where the offsprings of his eldest brother Fang Daohuai, a respectable farmer in his life time, still live today. 

His father passed away when he was only two; his mother, when he was four. He had two elder brothers before him, Fang Daohuai, the farmer, and Fang Yihuai (Fang Chen), the country scholar; and two elder sisters, both of whom died in their youth.  He was nourished up by his two “big brothers” who acted in the capacity of parents and guardians with loving care.  Especially important for his early growth and development was the second elder brother Fang Chen, a gifted writer, poet, and educator, who became the future Principal of the Tongcheng Middle School and Director for Municipal Bureau of Education in town.

As noticed above, Master Fang was of the 23th generation of the Great Fang (later known as the Gulin Fang) clan with a history above 4700 years of glamour and distinction traceable to the ancient Emperor Fu Xi, Yellow Emperor, and Emperor Shao Hao, etc. From the Zhou (1122 B.C.) to the Song Dynasty (960 A.D.), the Fang family has produced a long list of prominent figures in history of China, including kings, dukes, marquis, counts, premiers, lieutenants, ministers, and a variety of talents -- artists, poets, men of letters, hermits and recluses, etc.  Even in the last seven hundred years, from the Yuan (1271 -1368) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), the houses of Fang Lin and Fang Guan –two most distinguished branches of the Guilin Fang -- had produced a galaxy of celebrities: royal mentors, viceroys, governors, justices, defense ministers, imperial censor as inspector generals, educators, scholars, poets, poetesses, prose masters, doctors, philosophers (Fang Xuejian to Fang Yizhi), etc.[9]  Against such a brilliant background, the house of Fang You, into which our philosopher was born, appears atypically quiet and simple, in the sense that, instead of glamour and prominence, for centuries it had lived on the farm and had produced only one prominent figure, Fang You himself, and one junior scholar on local government grants, Fang Xueqin of the 11th generation (a great grand uncle of Fang Yizhi). For another 11 generations from then on, the family had been found conspicuously lacking in celebrities, without having produced even a xiucai (elementary candidate for official service).  How is one to explain such an incomprehensibly odd phenomenon?  And as such, on the riddle of life, we have no better solution to offer, except the saying: The top quality wine takes longer brewage.

To sum up, Master Fang is far from being the case of those who have “greatness thrust upon’em”; rather, he may be classified as one among those who are “born great” (in terms of natural ability and genius) and have “achieved greatness” by their own efforts and their commitment to the pursuit after excellence.

3.      Brother as Parents

Like his great ancestral uncle Fang Yizhi, Master Fang was such a precocious mind -- a wonder child, so to speak -- that he could learn by heart the entire Book of Odes at the age of three; and had mastered the Thirteen Classics at the age of twelve.  He lost his father Mr. Fang Jiangzhou (1846-1901) at the age of two, and his mother Lady Yang (1850-1903), at the age of four.  His first elder brother Fang Daohuai (1872-?) worked hard on the land, as the main earner of bread for the house; but was soon adopted as heir to their grand uncle Fang Enpu, therefore considered as “no longer affiliated to the same house.” The care of his early education was entrusted to his second brother Fang Chen (Yihuai, 1878-1945) who succeeded Daohuai as the family-head.

Fortunately, Fang Chen himself was an excellent classical Chinese scholar, a gifted poet, writer, calligrapher, and a good friend with Yan Fu (1854-1921), President of University of Beijing, a vigorous champion for the Tongcheng School in classical Chinese literature, as well as the famous translator of Thomas H. Huxley and John Stuart Mill for the learned community of. late 19th century China.  A well reputed educator throughout Anhui, Fang Chen was twice appointed Schoolmaster of the Tongcheng Middle School, and finally promoted to the rank of Director of Municipal Education.  Above all, he was the first one to perceive the wonder child quality in his youngest brother at the age of three, whom from among his able students he picked one to tutor at home.


4.      Cosmic Dignity of the Teacher

 In line with the custom, a “school opening ceremony” was held -- at their house.  They had all to pay their tribute properly to Confucius by “kowtow,” that is, by bowing to the Sage image with all themselves on their kneels. Then it was the turn for the family-head to do the same to the newly appointed teacher – a symbol for Confucius as “the teacher of all ages!”  As family-head, Fang Chen kowtowed to his former pupil, a kindergarten level teacher!  In the cultural tradition of China, the teacher is treated on par with “heaven, earth, ruler, and parents.” This early experience was so deeply imprinted on the tender mind of our philosopher that it had left a permanent deposit in his own thought for

the rest of his life.  There is reason to believe that it is of decisive importance for his career planning:  In his old age he told the class how this was precisely the same way for the Imperial Minister of Education of the Qing Empire to approach the Appointee of Presidency, Imperial University of Beijing -- Mr. Wu Rulun.

5.      Emperor and Schoolmaster

Before accepting this most honorable offer in the academics, Mr. Wu Rulun made a well planned trip to visit Japan with the sole purpose in mind: to study the recent Japanese educational reform as what made possible the Meiji Reformation.  Hearing of his arrival, the Meiji Emperor of Japan made an exception of the protocol by granting Mr. Wu a formal interview at the Royal Palace despite his non-official status. A visitor on educational reform as the basis of national reform was not an ordinary visitor, as more important than the official special envoys and ambassadors.  Japan the host knew it; Wu the guest knew it.  After three months, Wu returned to China only to witness the Qing Empire tottering.  Realizing that there was not much he could do about the whole situation, directly he went home to establish for experimentation the Tongcheng Middle School in his native town, to be followed by a higher institution in project for Anqin, capital of Anhui.  Not only a prominent figure of the last generation of the Tongcheng School in Literature founded by Fang Bao, Wu served as one of the ablest staffs with General Zeng Guofan who had successfully put down the Taipin Revolt.   With such a rare combination as background, Wu proved at once a far-sighted educator and able administrator.  In his beautiful calligraphy he wrote down his aim of education as an inscription at the main entrance to the school he founded:

“One hundred years or decades hence forth, various types of great talents will emerge and flourish in the world; they are all found growing right here on this campus as their embryonic phase, as it were; we aim at the merging and synthesis of the essentials of learning the world over East and West by way of cultivation and discipline.” 

The point is: How many university presidents in the world, even by now, have his vision and insight?  Yet this is the school our philosopher attended and graduated from in 1916, and of which his elder brother Fang Chen became the Principal in 1930!  Both Master Fang and his best schoolmate Zhu Guangqian (an authority on aesthetics in contemporary China) represent the best products of the great educator: Wu Rulen.

To sum up the distinctive features of our philosopher’s early education: In his tender age, he lived on the farm in the country side, deeply immersed in the studies of Chinese classics, as was typical of the traditional Confucian family.  During his most formative period he had been “nourished” in one of the best high schools in the world.  In addition, he had enjoyed the special advantage of being educated at several modern leading universities both at home and abroad -- an advantage which none of his illustrious forefathers had ever enjoyed, or dreamed of.


6.          University Days and Activities

(a)          Angry Beauty Fang

Never had he left the Dali Estate for the Tongcheng Middle School until he was fourteen (1913).  Never had he left Tongcheng for Nanking the capital city until he was eighteen (1917) when he was admitted to the Jinlin University there, a most advanced Christian missionary institution in China.  An entirely new college life, colorful, many-sided, stimulating, and challenging in various ways was awaiting him.  He was so serious-looking that he got nicknamed “Fang Numei” (Angry-Beauty Fang) instead of his school name Fang Dongmei (East-Beauty Fang).  A lot of anecdotes centering around this Angry-Beauty Fang were spread and retold down to the present day.  For examples:


 (b)   An  Extremely Absurd Recommendation!

 So remarkably had he distinguished himself in the entrance examination that he was officially waived from taking the three year course in Chinese literature.  Dr. Liu Boming, Dean of Studies, a graduate from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL., was leaving Jinling to take the Vice Presidency at Southeastern University. At a farewell interview with the President he strongly recommended, saying, “In the future, if you want to hire any new faculties for Chinese literature, be sure to check with two young men in the field: Fang Dongmei and Huang Zhongsu.”  After half a century, in retrospect, the old philosopher recollected with a bashful smile: “It was an extremely absurd recommendation!” But at the moment it was only smiled away as a joking exaggeration.

Before long all this was perfectly confirmed in the classroom performance.  It so happened that our young philosopher’s superior knowledge in classic Chinese literature surpassed that of the instructor teaching The Book of Odes; and his excellent command of the English overshadowed that of the British educated Dr. Wang, Dean of the Students, by correcting the latter’s misinterpretation of the textbook meaning in Philosophy of  Religion.  And, above all, he was found openly critical of the school administration and the educational policy of missionary institutions in China, etc.


(b)     Designated for Dismissal

Brilliant, yet non-conformist at school, Master Fang was so dissatisfied with the some part of the educational policy of the University that he was outspoken in criticism -- which really irritated the conservative missionary authorities.  Consequently, a case was brought against him in the faculty meeting and he was designated for dismissal or honorable withdrawal from the school.  For he was caught right on the spot as reading some Chinese romantic novels instead of The Holy Bible during the Sunday ceremony at the campus chapel.  Present at the meeting was Dr. Clarence H. Hamilton, who protested by proposing an alternative, that the whole University be closed rather than have such a brilliant young man dismissed for such a minor breach of the school rules. For, without a sound university educational policy, he argued, the University itself had lost all its raison d'être!  The case immediately caught the attention of University President, Dr. Baldwin, who arranged an interview with this young man, asking why he was always opposed to the University authorities.  “My critical reaction is not meant to oppose any one; rather it is for the sake of the University and its sound development for the future.” Our young philosopher went on more specifically: “For examples, (1) For due respect of the Chinese cultural tradition the University should approach and appoint, with proper courtesy, the best qualified, the first rate scholars to cover the courses concerned, rather than hiring the shams; (2) Since the 1912 Revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen China has arisen from its status of sub-colony, the University should respect her educational sovereignty by registering with the Ministry of Education; otherwise the graduates’ diploma would not be recognized by the government, thus affecting the future of our alumni to no small extent.” President Baldwin listened through his presentation, so impressed with his ability and audacity, his judgment and insight, that instead of having him dismissed, he accepted his criticism and, after due consideration; put into practice his suggestions.  At that moment he came to the decision to recommend him for advanced studies in the United States upon graduation. .So our philosopher went straight ahead to study in the United States, first at University of Wisconsin at Madison, then at Ohio State University at Columbus, Ohio, and finally back again to Wisconsin.  His three years stay in the United States (1921-24) had laid down a solid foundation for his training in Western philosophy and culture.  Forty years later, in the early 60s, when he was invited by US State Department to visit 37 American universities in a lecture tour, he did not forget to pay a visit to his former mentor, Dr. Clarence H. Hamilton, then nearing 90, living in retirement at home in Oberlin, OH.


         (c)     What a Karma: Christian and Buddhist!

Dr. Clarence H. Hamilton was an open-minded missionary educator in early 20th century China; he liked and was liked by the students he taught.  Soon after he came to the rescue of our philosopher at the faculty meeting, in one of his constitutional afternoon walks he came across a young student of the lass he taught sitting alone at the corner of the play ground on campus, reading attentively something in hand.  Out of sheer curiosity he approached him, asking what he was reading. “A Buddhist book.”  “May I know what it is about?” “Vimdaitkā: Treatise in Twenty Stanzas on Representation-Only by Vasybandhu.  You may have it, if interested.  I can very easily get another copy from the nearby Buddhist temple.”  Dr. Hamilton could read Chinese; he thought it easy to translate these “twenty stanzas” on the so called Consciousness-Only School.  But, for God know-not-what reason, it took him more than twenty years to accomplish the task (1938).  Now, Dr. Clarence H. Hamilton cut himself quite a figure as one of the forerunners in American Studies of Buddhism; he served as Special Writer for The Encyclopedia Britannica on entries of  “Buddhism” in China  and “Contemporary Chinese Philosophy.”

       Half a century afterwards, in their reunion at Obrlin, OH., the teacher asked, “Do you know how is it that I, myself a Christian, came to be so much engaged in the study of Buddhism?” Before the student same up with an answer, “All because of the trouble making class of yours!...”

         (d)     An Independent Thinker in the Youth

As we have learned further from his lectures on Chinese Mahāyanā Buddhism and Philosophy of the Hua Yan Sect, it was during his undergraduate days that Master Fang had already got acquainted with Buddhism.  Within the same capital city was situated the China Academy of Buddhist Studies, Nanking;  It was founded by Layman Yang Renshan and further developed by Master Ouyan Jingwu, a charismatic figure for the Buddhist renaissance (especially of the Yogācāra or Vijñānā-Mātratā School) in modern China after one thousand years of decline beginning with the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

In spite of his youth Master Fang displayed very early his critical acumen as a brilliant open mind.  With Master Ouyang he disagreed on two basic issues regarding the study of Buddhism: (1) that for Ouyang, Buddhism is regarded as neither religion nor philosophy (of which his knowledge was rather limited); whereas for Fang it is both; and (2) that for Ouyang, The Treatise on Awakening Faith in Mahāyanā was dismissed as worthless for reasons of  forgery on authorship; whereas for Fang, forgery is irrelevant to the intrinsic value of the work itself as an attempt at expounding in intelligible terms the essentials of Mahāyanā Buddhism, hence harmless as a recommended reference.  This shows clearly that there is an independent thinker in the youth.  Realizing the complexities and subtleties involved in Buddhist studies, he was determined never to open his mouth until had made the head and tail of it.  During the eight years (1938-1945) of Resistance again Japanese Invasion he had made intensive studies of the Buddhist Sūtras, especially of the Consciousness-Only Sect and the Hua Yan Sect (Avatamsaka) at a nearby temple in Chongqing, the wartime capital of China.  He must have studied Buddhism for 40 to 50 years before eventually he agreed to open his mouth to lecture on it, first at the National Taiwan University (1966-73), and then at the Fu Jen Catholic university (1973-76). 

         (e).    A Brilliant Activist Student Leader

While at Jinling University, far from being a merely contemplative mind dwelling in the “ivory tower,” Master Fang was deeply concerned with and actively involved in the current affairs of the world.  With excellent leadership, he was elected President for the Students Self-Government; he was the founding President of the Chinese Philosophical Society of the students body.  During the May 4th Movement in 1919, concurrently as President of the Students Self-Government and Editor-in-Chief for The Light of Jinling, he played the key role for initiating and organizing the patriotic student movements in Nanking and Shanghai that were soon to spread across all of the Southeastern provinces of China so as to spell a new shock for the young China throughout.

(7)     The YCS and the May 4th Movement

As world historians will recognize, the year 1919 had witnessed two historic events occurring in Beijing with global significance not only for China but for the whole world: the outbreak of the May 4th Student Movement and the founding of the Young China Society (YCS).  For the development of both, despite his youth and location in the South, Master Fang had played an indispensably significant role echoing the infuriated student leaders in Beijing.  The Jinling University campus became the Headquarter in support of the spread of the May 4th Movement nation-wide.

         Ironically, the YCS was officially established on July 1, 1919, in Beijing, two months after the outburst of the May 4th, yet, but for the former, the latter would never have outburst the way it had. 

         The reason is not far to find:  In May 1918 a total of 2,500 students returned from Japan in protest of the secret agreement the corrupt Beijing Government secretly signed with the Japanese authorities.  The three student leaders Zeng Qi, Zhang Mengjiu, and Lei Baohua (Meisheng), all bossom friends while studying in Japan, gathered together in Beijing for a wayout.  At this juncture they were visited by Wang Guangqi, a student of law at China University, aged twenty-five, a native of the same Sichuan Province, temperamentally a poet and musician, high-minded and pure hearted, no less deeply concerned with “Whither China?” than they were. 

         After several days of discussion, they met again on June 30, 1918, at the Mountain Clouds (Yueyun) Villa, Beijing, concurring on the founding of a Young China Society modeling after the Young Italy and the Young Turkey of 19th century Europe, with the view to reconstructing the Old China into a Young one.  Thus the six initial founding members were: Zeng Qi, Wang Guangqi, Zhou Taixuan, Chen Yusheng, Zhang Mengjiu, Lei Baoqing; they soon invited Li Dazhao, Director of Library, University of Beijing, to join as the seventh one.  Wang Guangqi was elected as Executive Director and concurrently Comptroller for the planned organization -- a capacity he had held until his leaving for studies in Europe in 1920.  Li Dazhao’s joining was of particular importance, as responsible for developing within less than two years the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as an offspring from the YCS which, by nature was non-political.  Though executed in 1927 as a heroic martyr, he was revered as “the Father of the CCP” – a  title he well deserved.

         On July 1, 1918, the Preparative Committee for the YCS was formed in Beijing; and in February 1919, three months before the May 4th, Wang Guangqi and Chen Yusheng, as urged by Zeng Qi, came down to Nanking for meeting with Zuo Shunsehng and Huang Zhongsu.  At Huang’s house, Master Fang and Zhao Shuyu were formally presented to Wang.  As a result, all this fine young group were invited to join as Founding Members for the YCS Nanking Chapter; and our philosopher, with his well reputed intellectual and literary brilliance, was at once appointed Editor-in-Chief for The Young World¸ a twin publication with The Young China edited by Wang, Li, and Kang Baiqing (a poet writer) in Beijing. 

         This meeting was of vital importance for the landslide success of the May 4th Movement in China:  a success owing to the key roles played by the elite group of the YCS members such as Li Da Zhao and Deng Zhongxia in the North and Thomé H. Fang and Zuo Shunsheng in the South.

         After the May 4th, the YCS was officially founded on July 1, 1919, in Beijing.  Master Fang joined it in November the same year in Nanking. In January the following year 1920, Mao Zedong joined it in Beijing. In April Mao came down to visit the Nanking Chapter and there he first met Thomé H. Fang, the student leader in the South.  Mao’s joining the YCS was no less significant than Li’s, historically considered.  But that is another story.

          (a)    The Young China: A Great Expectation!

Up to the late 20s of the last century, since the fall of the Qing (Manchuian) Empire in 1912, there have emerged more than four hundred such Societies registered with the Beijing Government.  Yet for Chancellor Cai Yuanpei of University of Beijing, of all such organizations at the time the Young China Society (YCS) was the most prospective both for its simple and great founding aims and its high standard membership qualification as well.  In retrospect, it can be safely asserted that had the YCS not come into being the way it had, both the history of China and that of the whole world would have to be re-written – for better or worse.  The historian Jonathan D. Spence had viewed the May 4th Movement as “such a concentrated outpouring of intellectual exuberance and doubt (that) had not been seen in China for over two thousand years.”[10]

         For the YCS, nothing was like it – before or after.  It is worthwhile to dwell a moment on the nature and character of this unique Society high-lighted as follows:

(b)     Aims and Joint Pledges

The idea itself was first derived from Liang Qichao’s 1900 essay “On the Young China”; reinforced by Li Dazhao’s 1916 article “On the Youthful China” and New Youth edited by Chen Duxiu since 1915.

The original version of the founding aims read: “Rejuvenating the youthful spirit; studying genuine knowledge; developing social enterprises; and transforming the climate of the age of decadence.”  It was soon replaced by the terse one: . “The Society is dedicated to the creation of a Young China by engagement in social activities in accordance with the scientific spirit.” Notice that of particular importance was the last phrase “in accourdance with the scientific spirit.” – which provided our philosopher with the strongest argument against the proposal for adoption of and endorsement to an form of “isms” during the heated debates over the issue at the 1924 (virtually the last) meeting at Zuo Shunsheng’s residence in Shanghai.  Had this basic principle been maintained, the fight and struggle between those who favored nationalism (the Youth Party) and those who favored communism (the Communist Party) would have been avoided at the very outset and, along with it, the final split of the Society in the 5th annual meeting in 1925, Nanking  Thus, at his old age, our philosopher remembered reflectively, “At first the Young China Society was lovable because of its endowment with the intellectual ideals of culture; it was disintegrated due to its degeneration of scholarship into partisanship.  This small incident illustrates a great deal on big issues [e.g., the decline and fall of any Society and State].” [11]

(c)   More Puritan than Puritanism

In addition to the above stated fundamental aims, all members were required to sign on the four joint pledges: “Strive, Practice, Perseverance, and Simplicity.”  In key-note it amounted to the Manifesto of the Power of Innocence, a bold Declaration of War against corruption and decadence.  In retrospect, it is so touchingly reminiscent of the slogan of the angry American youths of the 60s: “Never trust those above thirty!”

More specifically, the Society had stipulated a set of very rigorous requirements on the qualification of membership:  To apply for admission, one needed the recommendation of five members as references guaranteeing the moral integrity of the applicant; those who are caught as licentious in conduct, were not admitted or advised to withdraw.  Its Members’ Handbook comprised a long series of “Thou Shalt-Nots,” such as: Thou shalt not take alcoholic; thou shalt nor take gambling; thou shalt not take concubines; thou shalt not visit prostitutes; thou shalt not take any government office; thou shalt not take any [institutionalized] religions! etc.  How many people, ancient or modern, could pass such a rigorous membership test?  It excluded a lot of talented young men or young women (if any), no matter how intellectually brilliant and accomplished they were.  For instance, the application of the famous poet, writer, and later President of China Academy of Science, Guo Moruo, was flatly turned down by the Membership Censor Committee chaired by Zong Baihua (a longtime colleague of Master Fang’s at the National Central University). Does not such a code of conduct for membership sound “puritan – all too puritan!” to parody Nietzsche!

But, sixty years afterwards since 1918, Dr. Shen Yi, formerly Mayor of Nanking, an early YCS member, and an expert in aqueduct engineering trained at Berlin University, paid his sincerest tribute to our philosopher on his passing on July 13, 1977, as the perfect model member of the YCS – a twin star with Wang Guangqi the founder; for “both had committed to the founding aims and principles of the Society and had put into practice by deeds unswervingly all the four Joint Pledges as the lifestyle of beauty and good in one in resonance with the Spinozistic ideal of “simple living and noble thinking!”


         (d)     Like Challenge, like Response

As noticed above, the founding of the YCS was triggered by the students protest against the secret deals going on between the corrupt Beijing Government and Japan; similarly, the outbreak of the May 4th Movement, by the students protest against the unjust resolution of the Versailles Conference.  For its immediate cause we need only refer to the World War I (1914-1918) as the background.  Despite the fact that China had declared war against Germany by providing 200,000 labors to work for the Allies, yet at the Versailles Conference on April 30, 1919, the Western Powers (David Lloyd George for Britain, Georges Clemenceu for France, and President Woodrow Wilson for the U.S.) unanimously agreed to transfer all Germany’s Shangdong Rights to Japan![12]  This really triggered the May 4th Movement in Beijing. All Chinese youths were infuriated, crying out: “Get rid of traitors within! Fight for sovereignty without!” They set afire the house of Cao Rulin, Minister of Communications, and got Zhang Zongxiang, Chinese Envoy to Japan, beaten to unconsciousness; in Shanghai 60.000 workers went on strike; in one month (June) a nationwide Student Union was formed in thirty localities all over China.  Even seven years later, as a remote echo, the strike in Hong Kong in 1926 continued for 16 months in protest against the British May 30th massacre in Shamen (killing 52 unarmed Chinese and wounding over 100), backed up by the boycott of British goods. 

         The eminent British philosopher Bertrand Russell, who had lectured at University of Beijing in 1920-21, condemned his own compatriots for their stupidity and savages:

I wrote a fierce denunciation of these outrages, which was published first in England and then throughout China.  An American missionary in China  .… (later) told me that the indignation in China had been such as to endanger the lives of all Englishmen living in that country.    He said that the English in China owed their preservation to me, since I had caused the infuriated Chinese to conclude that not all Englishmen are vile.[13]

         Once awakened from such bitter experiences of frustration and tribulation, understandably, China was never to remain the same as she was before.  Obviously, she was at the crossroad:  “Whither, China?”  From what was purely a student patriotic movement, the May 4th developed into a new literary revolution followed by what is known as the “New Cultural Movement” headed by Chen Duxiu and Hu Shi, University of Beijing.  At this juncture -- on the eve of the May 4th -- arrived the great American philosopher John Dewey, Hu Shi’s mentor, who was so deeply impressed with what he had seen with his own eyes in eleven provinces of China that he openly admitted that he loved China next to his own. 

(8)     “Welcome, Dr. John Dewey!”

During his sabbatical leave 1918-1919 at Columbia University, New York, the great American philosopher John Dewey had planned to visit and lecture in Japan; not in China.  As with Brand Blanshard, the late Chairman of Philosophy at Yale, “The only right thing I have done in my life was by accident.”[14]  While in Japan, Dewey was visited by his former students from China, who happened to be there on official trip, including Chancellor Jiang Mengling, University of Beijing.  Jiang invited Dewey to lecture in China for one year under the joint sponsorship of several newly formed Chinese societies in Shanghai and Beijing. Dewey accepted the invitation and arrived directly from Japan to Shanghai on April 30 just in time, as it were, on the eve of the May 4th Students Movement – a movement that had changed the history China for good and, as a result, that of the world as well.  To put in the Dewey language, the experience of his visit to China best exemplified his metaphysical principle of interaction. In the words of his daughter, Miss Jane M. Dewey:

Whatever the influence of Dewey upon China, his stay there had a deep and enduring influence upon him.  He left feeling affection and admiration not only for the scholars with whom he had been intimately associated but the Chinese people as a whole.  China remains the country nearest his heart after his own.[15]

He was struck both with the tremendous multiple impact of the May 4th phenomena and the moral courage and great self-esteem of the Chinese youths: From Chancellor Jiang he came to learn how the student leaders refused to leave the prison until the government gave them an official apology!  Little wonder there was that “he left feeling affection and admiration.”  He must have heard of the YCS and its connection with the May 4th  Movement.  Therefore, when he was in Nanking in the Spring of 1920, obviously before his scheduled departure for the U.S.A., he expressed, through his competent interpreter and guide Mr. Zha Xiaoxian, that he wished to visit the YCS Nanking Chapter, saying, “I wish to have an opportunity to talk face to face with the young people of YCS in Nanking, because I very much wish to understand more about the Society in regard to its aims, plans, and causes.” Mr. Zha passed the message across to the host party.  It was at once warmly responded.  After due preparation a tea reception was held in Dewey’s honor at the Cang Yuan (Dark Green Garden) by the Inner City Bridge.  Thomé H. Fang was elected to deliver in English the Welcome Speech on behalf of the YCS Nanking Chapter.  In response to Dewey’s query young Master Fang served as the best spokesman for the Society, expounding its goal sets in a way exuberant with youthful zest and ardor, as follows:

“The great causes of the Young China Society can by no means be monopolized by such a minority group of only 68 members [as ours].  What we are striving to do, here and now, is but to call upon our fellow citizens to cultivate the habit of reflective thinking and voluntary activities and to arouse, to the best we can, certain enthusiastic sympathies with our ideal of the creation of a Young China.  If this pre-established objective can be fulfilled, it is a feast accomplished by virtue of self-choice, self-initiative, and self-awakening on the part of the citizens of Young China as a whole.  In other words, such a great undertaking is the joint expression of all the Chinese people in terms of their creativeness, individuality, and freedom of will.  Thus, it can by no means be appropriated by the Young China Society alone.  For the moment, our Society is just setting out to try our very best to further this campaign and to remove any possible obstacles and stumbling blocks on its way.  At any rate, however, advance forward we must, but not blindfold!  Urgently we do look forward to such prophets as can provide us with advice and guidance.  Such prophets have much to teach us, enabling us to obtain the capabilities of free and reflective thinking, voluntary activity performing, and co-operative working with the other fellow comrades, so as to create the optimal contributions to the modern democratic cross-national communities.  Now, Professor John Dewey, with his luminary glories, is here with us today, luring us to advance towards a more viable world to live in.  The development and cultivation of our thought, conduct, and character are all under the spell of his contagious wisdom and sympathy.  With such a great mentor of life and prophet of democracy, not much word is needed; rather, we need only dedicate to him our esteem and love, and our sincere admiration.[16]

To this John Dewey replied gentlemanly and encouragingly: “I sincerely urge you to cherish your great thought, to abide to your correct aims, and to strive to move on altogether towards Light!”[17]

         Thus, John Dewey became his first teacher in “History of Western Philosophy: the Ancient Period.”  At first he was quite interested in John Dewey as a scholar and teacher of history of ideas, but soon found himself unable to appreciate the latter’s pragmatism.  Divergent in temperaments, eventually each went his own way.

         Dewey characterized his system “naturalistic metaphysics” which, for a philosopher like George Santayna, seems a contradiction in term: “How comes it that these two characters (which to me seem contradictory) can be united in this philosophy?” On the motives that drove Dewey to naturalism Santayana stressed, “He is the devoted spokesman of the spirit of enterprise, of experiment, of modern industry.”[18] Temperamentally, as Professor Dale M. Riepe of New York had wittily put it, George Santayana was Thomé Fang’s “spiritual brother.”[19]

While commenting on Dewey‘s New Logic, Bertrand Russell admitted frankly “Reading Dr. Dewey makes me aware of my own unconscious metaphysics as well as his. … One of the chief sources of difference between philosophers is a temperamental bias towards synthesis or analysis.”[20]  To this we may add another chief source of difference between philosophers: a temperamental bias towards spiritualism or naturalism. With such a dual drive towards synthesis and spirituality, Master Fang differs both from Russell and Dewey

That Master Fang seldom mentioned his relationship with Dewey, in addition to their temperamental divergence, has a psychological reason:  He hated to be associated with the so called “Dewey Circle” headed by Hu Shi, -- “Dewey’s great disciple in China” (for most American Dewey scholars in the U.S.) and “the Czar of the Chinese academics” (for H. G. Creel, the distinguished sinologist of America).[21]  As a result of the May 4th Movement, Hu Shi soon became the leading conductor of the New Cultural Movement, whose slogan is “Wholesale Transplantation of West Civilization”; “Complete Westernization”; “Completely Discard Traditional Chinese Culture!”  How could a philosopher like Thomé H. Fang endorse to such kind of good sense gone mad!  Not even a Whitehead, nor a Randall, nor Dewey himself would approve of it.

         Hu Shi visited Whitehead in 1930.  His attitude of completely discarding the traditional Chinese culture was found “too excessive” because, from Whitehead’s point of view, there was continuity in culture, and no new culture could be established by completely break away from the classic tradition.  Whitehead confirmed with three of his Chinese students at Harvard – He Lin, Xie Youwei, and Shen Youding -- that the most wondrous way of heaven as taught in Chinese philosophy had already been incorporated into this own writings.”[22]

         For John D. Randall, Jr., the well known intellectual historian at Columbia, “In his discriminating employment of the historical resources of philosophy, Dewey has no rival.”  He perceived in Dewey the “greatest traditionalist among the leading philosophical minds of today”; whereas he saw in Hu Shi a schoolboy to whom “the slate must be wiped clean for a fresh start.

         Thus, Dewey warned the philosophers, “If he ignores traditions, his thoughts become thin and empty.[23]

         Dewey’s metaphysical principle of continuity was distorted in practice by Hu Shi into that of discontinuity; Dewey’s  principle of interaction into that of blind action.  The great disciple turned out the greatest betrayer. .The main difference between Fang and Hu lies in their attitude towards the traditional Chinese culture.  Labels such as “cultural conservatism” and “cultural liberalism” are both fallacies of over-simplification.  As I recalled, in 1973 Master Fang confirmed with me, saying, “If you want to study Dewey seriously, Dewey has much to offer for studies, but not as Hu Shi (mis)represented him.”


He had high esteem and admiration for Dewey as a sincere, gracious person, a gentleman scholar, and an earnest devoted good teacher, despite their divergence in position: naturalistic metaphysics vs. transcendental metaphysics.

9. The Philosopher’s Young Contacts

  For China, as for the world, the eventful period of 1919-1920 is of extraordinary significance in that it witnesses the occurrence of several decisive factors for the subsequent development of history, chronically, to mention a few:

  For 1919, (1) Wang Guangqii’s visit to Nanking and first meting with Thomé H. Fang in February; (2) outbreaking of the May 4th  Movement; (2) the meeting of student leaders North and South oin May 5th--Duan Shuyi and Thomé H. Fang; etc.; (3) the founding of the YCS on July 1919; (4) Mao Zedong’s first arrival in Beijing on August 19; (5) Thomé H. Fang’s joining the YCS in November as founding member for the Nanking Chapter.

  For 1920, (6) Mao’s joining the YCS in January; (7) Fang’s assuming Editorship-in-Chief for the Young World in Nanking; (8) Mao’s visit to Nanking and first meeting with Thomé H. Fang in April; (9) the secret organization of the Marxist Research Society in Beijing by Li Da Zhao on March 30th, with Deng Zhongxia, Mao Zedong, etc., as basic members; (10) the founding of the CCP (the Chinese Communist Party) in June[24] and, in addition, (11) Fang’s assuming Editorship with Zuo Shunsheng for The Young China in March 1921 until his departure for studies abroad in August 1921.

  From the above chronicle list one can perceive how devotedly our philosopher had been engaged for the cause of the creation of a Young China!  He had known by personal acquaintance all the three party leaders, Duan shuyi for Nationalist Party (KMT), Zuo Shunsheng for the the Youth  Party (YP), and Li Dazhao, Deng Zhongxia, Mao Zedoing for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  Like Wang Guanqi, founder of the YVS, he was one of the few devoted YCS members who had remained non-political and non-partisan all his life.  Moreover, he was unique in maintaining a dual relationship with Mao Zedong (as a fellow member at the YCS) and Chiang Kai-shek (as a pupil since 1937).


  Regardless of their divergent political affiliations, the above listed were all characters of distinction, for some of whom our philosophers had life long friendship, e.g., Zuo Shunsheng, or affectionate memories, e.g., Duan Shuyi, Wang Guangqi and Deng Zhongxia.  We may advance for sampling a sketch of his young contacts as follow:

  (a)   Chen Duxiu

  Twenty years Fang’s senior, Chen Duxiu (1879-1942) was one of the key founders for the CCP and its first Sectary-in-General, but not a YCS member.  Little was known of Fang’s relationship with Chen or whether they had met with one other in their life time.  But Chen was a native of Anhui, Fang knew a good deal about his performace as Secretary-in-General for the Military Governor Bo Liewu during 1912-3; the provincial administration was condemned as notorious and Chen got nicknamed “the Concubine”!  Fang had a very bad impression about him until many years later, during the war time, in the 40s, when he had heard high admiration for him through their common friend Duan Shuyi in Chongqing; at that time Chen was in house arrest in Jiangjin, Sichuan. As all know, Chen was only a Juren (the middle degree for official service), running a radical journal New Youth in Shanghai, whereas he was approached several times earnestly by Cai Yuanpei,, Chancellor of University of Beijing, who had the advanced degree Jinshi in the Qing Dynasty.  Hen accepted the offer as Dean of Liberal Arts at the University of Beijing.  Though temperamentally a volatile and passionate person, he was a competent dynamtic journalist, a forthright brave critic, with a compellingly forcible style.  In fact, with the power of news media, he prepared the way for the May 4th Movement.  After the founding of the CCP in 1920 he was made its 1st Secretary-in-General by the Comintern.  He was such a rare combination of the charismatic revolutionary with the typical Chinese literati that he dared to refuse  the financial support from Stalin in Moscow; that, when tried at the court house of Shanghai on charge of conducting the communist activities in Southeastern China, he refused the service of free defense for him by the illustrious Attorney Zhang Shizhao, cutting Zhang short with yelling, “Why fool with defending for me? I am innocent!  Joining any political party is legally permitted by the Civic Code of Laws of the ‘Republic of China!”that, while imprisoned in Chongqing, he refused both the offer of financial assistance from the Nationalist Government and Mao’s offer of protection by taking asylum with the Communist Government in Yanan.  He spent his last few years of life concentrating on the studies of archaic Chinese philology until he died of illness in 1942 .  In view of all these factual evidences, Fang gave Chen high credits as an accomplished classic scholar and a far better improved personality than he used to be when young, working for the War Lords in Anhui![25]

  (b)   Li Dazhao

  Again, little was known of Fang’s relationship with Li Dazhao.  Fang seldom visited  Beijing and Li seldom came south. Their common link in between was Li’s devoted disciple Deng Zhongxia. A mutual sincere admiration was instantly struck between Fang and Deng as a result of their first meeting after May 4th, both being fine characters and noble minds. with deep love for classical Chinese literature. Judging from the fact that after 1921 Li yielded his Editorship for The Young China to Fang and Zuo, two young man barely passing their twenties, whose character and talents must have been readily and fully recognized by Li, the dual founder of the YCS and CPP. 

  On April 6, 1927, Li was arrested from the Russian Embassy in Beijing by the Militarist Grand Marshal ZhaNg Zuolin of Manchuri., father of Zhang Xueliang who kidnapped Chiang Kai-shek on December 22, in 1936.  After undergoing severest torture, Li heroically defended for his case at the court; but was still sentenced to death by hanging, along with other 80 victims, communists and nationalists alike, on the dame day of April 28.  Li died a martyr at the age of 38.

  At his old age, Master Fang remembered Li with warm affectionand admiration, commending him as “a compassinate, generous, selfless, heroic character.”

  (c)  Zuo Shunsheng 

  As a matter of fact, at the YCS Nanking Chapter, Zuo Shunsheng, Huang Zhongsu and Thomé H. Fang’s formed a sort of the trivium; their life long friendship began dramatically as the result of an accident.

  It so happened that, once walking across the campus of Jinling University, 1918, Fang was called hastily to halt from behind by some one he didn’t know.  The young man mistook Fang for his old friend Deng Boqi.  Thus they were introduced to one another by the karma of mistakings.  He was Huang Zhongsu (son of the well known poet Huang Zhiqing), another brilliant young talent on the campus.  Soon they became good friends  At that time Fang was intoxicated with Zhuangzi, searching in vain for Wang Xianqian’s Collected Commentaries.  “That is easy.  Why not come over to my house?” thus Huang invited.  There at Huang’s residence, Fang was presented to his parents for a courtesy visit.  All of a sudden, out of the study jumped a smiling handsome looking young scholar Zuo Shunsheng, with three volumes of book in hand -- which were truly after Fang’s heart.. Zuo was then working as a tutor for Huang’s sisters at home. 

  (d)  Zuo Shunsheng.

  Thus began the lifelong friendship for the three of them:  Six years Fang’s senior, Zuo Shunsheng (1893-1969), like Mao Zedong, a native of Hunan; later was to become one of the key founding members of the Youth Party.  Huang was the first of them to join the YCS in Beijing.  He was of such crucial importance for the Society’s development that he may be aptly described as the medium of intercommunication: It was through his arrangement that Wang Guangqi the founder came down to visit the South in July 1918; it was by his recommendation that both Fang and Zuo joined the YCS as the founding  members for the Nanking Chapter. Besides, he was the one who kept correspondence with Mao more frequently than the rest; he was the one who managed to pay a visit to Wang Guangqi, virtually in self-exile, studying music in Germany. .He obtained B.A in English literature from University of Illinois and M.A. in French literature from University of Paris. After his return in the 30s he had taught at several universities in China.

  Zuo Shunsheng was an excellent scholar in recent history of China, but rather actively involved in politics. The controversy over nationalism vs. communism – strikingly represented by Zuo vs. Deng Zhongxia -- accelerated the split of the Society in 1925 .  During the war time, Zuo headed a delegation of the Senate of National Council in Chongqing to visit the communist area in Yanan.  Mao, now Chairman of the CCP, held a whole day long individual conversation with Zuo, attempting to re-establish the YCS.

  After 1949 Zuo retreated to Hong Kong where, assiduously carrying on his historical researches, he taught part time at the Qing Hua College and the New Asia College founded by Qian Mu and Tang Junyi, etc.  Whenever he had a chance to come over to Taiwan attending the conferences, he visited Fang; on the other hand, whenever Fang traveled abroad via Hong Kong or came to serve as oral examiner at University of Hong Kong and New Asia College, he never forgot to see Zuo for reunion.  When in 1969 Zuo died in the Taipei Veterans Hospital, at the age of 76, Fang was at his dying bed -- though never were they able to exchange a word again!

  Fang’s private library with several thousands of fine books in collection was victimized along with the fall of the capital (Nanking) to the Japanese rapacity in 1937.  After eight years, when he returned in 1945 from Chongqing, he found to his great dismay all his book treasures gone!  As Luck had it, he found at the Scholar’s Mirror Used Books Store a part of them for sale, Zuo’s gift book Collected Com-mentaries to Zhuangzi included.  He purchased all of them back at high prices and treasured them as a “paradise rgained!”  In his eyes there was always noticed an affectionate regard towards things old -- old friends, old books and, needless to say, old culture and old wisdom.

  What if Huang Zhongsu had not made a mistake in 1917 by mistaking Fang for another old friend of his?  The riddle of karma remains forever a riddle, even for us philosophers pondering over the meaning and value of mistake-makings in the course of events -- human and cosmic as well!

  (e)  Mao Zedong

  As it has been said of Napoleon (1769-1821), in less than three hundred years since his death, “he has been the subject of more than two hundred thousand books.”[26]  As to the question, of how many books will Mao the ruler of a quarter of mankind become the subject? we better leave it for the future to answer.

Six years Fang’s senior, Mao Zedong (1893-1996) was born of a well-to-do peasant family in the valley of Shaoshan, Xiangtan, Hunan.  F graduated from the First Provincial Normal School, Changsha, Hunan.  A highly controversial figure for history as he surely was, it was already discernible in the Young Mao Zedong that he was a rebel nature, a critical reader of history, a challenger of conventions, an investigator of social problems, a talented poet and writer, an ele-mentary school teacher, a student and labor organizer, and a journalist with revolutionary caliber. Most crucial for his subsequent development was the period of 1919-1920.

Around the May 4th Movement Mao had visited Beijing only twice:  the first time from August 19, 1918 to March 12, 1919; the second time from December 18, 1919 to April 11, 1920.

On August 19, 1918, Mao arrived in Beijing and visited Professor Yang Changji at PU, his former teacher at the Normal School in Changsha, Hunan; (After Yang’s death in 1920 Mao married his daughter Miss Yang Kaihui).  It was through Yang’s help that, at the end of September, 1918, Mao got a junior librarian job at PU, approved by Chancellor Cai Yuanpei, for eight yuans a month – a living wage; he could only afford to share a room with seven other tenants.  Though he spent only six months in this humble position, his acquaintance with the boss Li Dazhao had changed his whole life and that of China too.

Again, it was through Li that Mao came to know Wang Guangqi, Deng Zhongxia, and Kang Baiqing.  In January 1920 he joined the YCS.  In March he joined the Marxist Research Society organized by Li.  In April he was sent by Li to Shanghai to see some students off for studies abroad in France. He stopped by Nanking and first met Thomé H. Fang at the YCS Nanking Chapter. All these happened in 1919-1920.

We shall, however, focus his relation with the YCS.  For all his life Mao had joined only two societies: the New People Society, Hunan and the Young China Society, Beijing. Understandably, he had more influence on the former as its founder; whereas the latter had more influence on him as a member, in as much as it had acquainted him with the most elite group of Chinese youth of his generation.

How differently was he treated by the luminary student leaders at  PU, such as Fu Sinian and Luo Jialun? “Most of them have never treated me like a human being; they are all big busy shots, having no time to listen to a junior librarian’s southern dialect.”[27]  “He felt snubbed.  And he bore his grudge hard.”[28]  Future historians, psychologists, and Mao biographers would ascertain for us whether, and how far, this grudge Mao had borne hard at the bottom of his heart was part of the latent factors for Mao’s anti-intellectualist policy in China after 1950 and even part of the motivating power for the volcanic explosion of the “Culture Revolution” in 1966-1976 – a “revolution” indeed unprecedented in human history!

Not so with the student leaders here in the South, where he was treated friendly as a fellow member and addressed, as customarily, in the most familiar terms as “Big Brother Mao.”  Finding him rather mute and reticent in discussions on the current affairs of the world, they encouraged him to go back to school -- to college -- for advanced studies; they even suggested him some prestigious ones to consider.  How different, how nice, these student leaders of the South were as compared with those at PU!  The atmosphere of genuine amiability, friendliness, and fellowship here at Nanking impressed Mao deeply. 

There is reason to believe that Mao had a special feeling for the YCS, especially its founder Wang Guangqi, for instances:

(i)  In early 1920, soon after joining the YCS, as a sample labor he first volunteered to serve as laundry man by having Wang Guangqi’s dirty shirts cleaned right away with his hands.  Wang praised Mao as a pragmatist à la Yan Xizhai (1635-1704) emphasizing on practice and experimentation as a way of knowing.

 (ii) On April 1, 1920, when Wang Guagnqi took ship to depart for France, it was Mao who came to wave “Bon Voyage!” on the wharf of Shanghai!  In 1950, after the founding the People’s Republic of China, Mao asked Marshal Chen Yi, on his way back to Sichuan for vocation, to look after Wang Guangqi.  When reported from Chengdu, “Wang had passed in Germany long ago.”  “Any survivors?” Mao inquired again. “None, but a remote nephew.” “His graveyard?” “The tomb monument was removed (for fear of the red Guards’ irrational acts); now in the keeping of Zhou Taixuan, an old YCS member in Chengdu.” “ Have it restored, and take good care of it.”

(iii) Twenty-eight years afterward, during the period of Peace Talks in 1945, under the negotiation of American Ambassador General Patrick Hurley, between the Nationalists and the Communists in Chong-qing, despite his tight schedule Mao never forgot to invite all the former fellow members at the YCS (25 of them in total available) to a dinner reception at the Chongqing Garden Restaurant (Yuyuan), with Zhou Enlai serving as the chief receptionist. Now, no longer a junior librarian at PU, Mao appeared as the Chairman of CCP waving his hands to greet the guests, as if he were reviewing his followers.  Though there was felt something condescending about it, what could they do as invited guests at the recepton?  A gentle but distinct utterance from the philosopher Thomé H. Fang, “Hi, Big Brother Mao!” had at once changed the total atmosphere from suffocating formality into light-hearted gathering together with exchange of bantering jokes.  “When I first came to Nanking in 1919, I knew nobody there, I kept waling along the city wall for thirty miles in a day, …” Mao’s simple-folk way of confession was interrupted.  Big Brother Mao, was that your rehearsal for the Long March?”[29]   You could imagine what a roar of laughter followed until Zhou Enlai came to his rescue by taking over the position and did the talking in his stead.  Zhou was  a superb good speaker and actor as well.

(g)     Wang Guangqi

As noted above, of the three key founding members of the YCS in 1919, Li Dazhao and Deng Zhongxia were to become the future leaders for Chinese Communist Party founded in 1920-1921; only Wang Guangqi (1892-1936), like Thomé H. Fang, had remained non -political and non-partisan.

Seven years Fang’s senior, Wang was a native of Wenjiang, Sichuan.  like Fang, he spent his youth in the country; he was hired as a cow tender and was often found playing the pipe while riding on the buffalo back.  His father, who was a Juren (a middle candidate for political service), served as a tutor in Beijing but died when Guaangqi was a very young.  Fortunately he taught an able student Zhao Erxun who later became the Government of Sichuan, asking about his whereabout.  Governor Zhao donated to the Sichuan government a large sum of money as fellowship for the needy and bright youths.  Wang thus got financially supported to finish his high school in Chengdu (capital), and went to Beijing for college education.

At the wharf of Wenjiang, awaiting the ship, he met two beautiful young girls accompanied by their father, Mr. Wu Zhi, who later became well known across the country as “the old hero who stuck down the Confucius Grocery Store single-handed!”  The Old Hero entrusted him with taking care of his two young daughters on their way to Beijing.  Who knows, this incident had changed Wang’s life, that of the Young China Society he was to found, and that of the whole country he aimed to save!

Wang of course took good care of these two young girls all the way.  He entered China University, Beijing, as a law student; they entered Women’s Normal University. He was in love passionately with the younger sister Miss Wu; but he was married at home. 

He was a student of law and government at China University, Beijing, by temperament a poet, sensitive, romantic, and noble minded.  As an organizer, he was far-sighted in planning, meticulously careful in deliberation, and firm and resolute in execution.  He was admired by all.  He ended up as a professor of history of music at Bonn University, Germany.  Li Dazhao (1889-1927), a native of Leting, Hebei, was a generous character, who studied political economics at University of Wasada, Japan, and was the earliest to import Marxism and Communism into China while serving as Director of Library, and Professor of Economics and History, University of Beijing.  Deng was his devoted student and helped him organize the Marxist Study Group there in 1920. 

Introduced by Deng Zhongxia and Kang Baiqing, co-editor with Li Dazhao for The Young China, Mao Zedong joined the Young China Society in November, 1920 and, as an adjunct worker for Li, he joined the Marxist Study Group.  In 1921 the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) was established on a boat at West Lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang. The rest of the Party story is well known to the world historians.

What about our philosopher’s relationship with all these happenings?  With his literary and intellectual brilliance, he was at once recognized by all the founding members: appointed as Editor-in-chief for The Young World  in 1919; and Editor for The Young China succeeding Li Dazhao.  Dedicated to the aims for which the Society was founded – for “the creation of Young China by engagement in social activities in accordance with the scientific spirit” – he was outspoken against the adoption of any forms of “ism” in contradistinction to most of the members in the north.  He joined theYCS in November, 1919, for love of its cultural and intellectual ideals as independent of political power struggles  Thus, for the rest of his life, he had remained non-political and non-partisan. Though a key member of the YCS, editor-in-chief for its two journals, he has joined neither the Marxist Study Group nor the CCP. At the final fatal split in 1925 between rightist and leftist wings within the Society -- represented by Deng Zhngxia and Zuo Shunsheng, respect-tively – he was in a position to serve as pacifier and reconciler. The Society, however, was doomed for its premature death.

 endorsing to the Society’s goalset for the creation of a Young China by way of social activities on the scientific spirit and to its guiding principles for lifestyle: Strive, Practice, Perseverance, and Simplicity.

In November, 19l9, six months after the May 4th Movement, Master Fang joined it along with a group of brilliant young men of his age, such as Huang Zhongshu, Zuo Shunsheng (later President of the Chinese Youth Party).  This Young China Society was founded by Dr. Wang Guangqi (who later became a professor of History of Music at the University of Bonn, Germany, and died there in 1936). Ironically, this Young China Society, composed of 108 (actually more) members drawn from the flower of Chinese youth in the early 20s, and intended to be a non-political organization devoted to the cause of China renovation and modernization by way of social reform rather than political revolution, turned out to be the meeting ground for all the future leadership of various political parties that have played decisive roles in the political scene of China ever since: for instances, Zuo Shunsheng and Lee Huang for the Chinese Youth Party; Li Dazhao, Deng Zhongxia and Mao Zedong for the Chinese Communist Party; and rest for the Democratic SociaIist Party founded by Dr. Carson Chang, and for the Nationalist Party formed by Dr. Sun Yat-sen; and only a minority for non-partism. 

With his literary brilliance, Master Fang, barely passing his twenty, was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the two Society journals: The Young China and The Young World until 1921 when he set out for the United States for advanced studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Throughout his life he remained non-political and non-partisan, true to the spirit and ideals on which the Society was founded. As such he was hailed as its perfect model member in Memoriam by his fellow member friend Dr. Shen Yi, an expert on aqueduct engineering, and former Mayor of Nanking.



At this time, sent by Li Dazhao, Mao came down from Beijing on his way to Shanghai to see some students off who were going to study in France. Knowing of nobody in Nanking, Mao strolled down on the city wall walks around the capital for thirty miles in one day.  Somehow he heard about Zuo Shusheng of the same Hunan province -- affiliated with the famous Governor-General Zuo Zongtang.  He stopped by the Nanking Chapter for a visit only to find Zuo out of town working part time as Editor for the China Books Co., Shanghai.  But he was well received by our young philosopher Thomé H. Fang and Shen Zeming (younger brother of the novelist Shen Yanbing, pen-named “Mao Dun”) and some others, all of whom treated him very friendly. 

The philosopher remembers

“The YCS was composed of 108 members all of whom were unique in character, free in thought, abundant in feeling, and strict in self-discipline in the conduct of life.” “Wang Guangqi the founder was such a character of lofty mind and pure heart that of all the fellow members he was the strictest with himself.”  Thus, recollected affectionately our philosopher in 1975 on the passing of Zuo Shensheng, his best youthhood friend, in connection with several others of the Young China Society.  He admired Wang the most; but he liked Deng the best.

(a)        Deng Zhongxia

On May 5th, 1919, the following day of May 4th, Deng Zhongxia as President of the Stuent Union in Beijing

He first met with Deng Zhohngxia

In February 1918, with the introduction of Zuo Shunsheng and Huang Zhongsu, he first met with Wang Guangqi and Deng Zhongxia who came down from Beijing to develop the Society in the South. He was immediately made a founding member for its Nanking Chapter and Editor-in Chief for its new journal The Young World.  He joined the Society officially in November 1919, six months after the May 4th.

On May 4th he played the key role for organizing and initiating the students movement in the South, echoing Li Dazhao and Chen Duxiu in the North.  In November of the same year he joined the YCS along with a group of other brilliant youths, all his good friends, in Nanking, such as Huang Zhongsu, Zhao Shuyu, Zuo Shunsheng, Shen Zemin etc.  He was at once made Editor-in-Chief for The Young World soon succeeding Li Dazhao as Editor for The Young China. 

What was Master Fang’s role in relation to the rise and fall of the YCS (1918-1925)?  He joined the Society in 1919, one year before Mao, for love of its cultural and intellectual ideals as independent of political power struggles.         He was outspoken against the adoption of any form of “isms” citing in his support the well formulated aims for which the Society was founded and to which he had committed himself: “The Society aims at the creation of a Young China by engagement to social activities in accordance with the scientific spirit.”  Thus, for the rest of his life he had remained non-political and non-partisan. Though a key member of the Society with editorship for two of its official media, he has joined neither the Marxist Study Group nor the CCP.  At its 1925 final meeting in Shanghai, doomed to meet the fatal split between rightist and leftist wings within the Society -- represented by Deng Zhngxia and Zuo Shunsheng, respectively – he was in a position to serve as pacifier and reconciler. At any rate, however, the Society was doomed for its premature death.

 deeply loved the founding ideals of the YCS in 1918, and deeply regretted its premature death in 1925.

of course the old  a; he bought them street while In 1    ation committee member  oral  eaching    re frequent  at his residence that Wang Guangqi was received for his visit to the South; by his recommend both Fazng and Zuo were  was of such crucial importance that particular It was through Huang was . brilliant young men trio at the Turning who mistook Fang for .    In 1917,  the Jinling University, with Fang was made by an accident.   the philosophedr becoming was one of his life time best friends.  Their meting was  by a mistake.



©©© At his old age, Li must have readily recognized the character and talents  

       by the voluntary attorney   for thevolatile a character,  the was   [  for which  of Anhui Province of the same province, Anhui,   , .  and Li. ret   Of the founding members for CCP Chen Duxiu was not It is no exaggeration to say that the CCP was an offspring of the YCS; for most of its founding members were The earliest founding members of the CCP were, as a rule, all  He had a profound

Of all his early contemporary contacts

--’s secret organization in Beijing the Marxist Research Society   (Duan Shuyi, Deng Zhongxia, etc)  union of May 5th .   in a historical perspective, for instances, (1) in November 1919, six months after the May 4th, Thomé H. Fang joined the YCS as a member and with Zuo Shensheng was soon to succeed Li Dazhao as Editors for The Young China. (2) Li, with the aide of his devoted student Deng Zhongxia, organized an informal Marx study group on the campus of University of Beijing and soon developed it into the Marxist Research Society; (3) Mao Zedong, a junior assistant librarian working under Li, with the introduction of Wang Guangqi, Kang Baiqing, and Deng Zhong-xia, etc., first joined the YCS, then the Marx study group, then the Marxist Research Society, and finally the CCP found in 1920-21; [30] and (4) Young Master Fang, despite his status as Editor for two of the YCS’ official publication, The Young China and The Young World, joined neither the Marxist research Society nor the CCP.  How is one to account for such an apparently atypical phenomenon?  We need to take a closer look at the nature of the YCS and the aims upon which it was originally founded.. 


[To Be Continued…..]

[1] Cf. Zhu Guangqian,  On Poetry (Beijing: Beijing Press, 2005), p. 1.


[2] The late Professor Liang Shiqiu was graduated with B. A. in 1923 from the Tsing-hua University, Beijing, and with M. A in 1925 from Harvard, where he studied with Irving Babitt. After his return from the U. S. in 1926 he became an active member of the “New Crescent School” in modern Chinese literature owing to the impact of the great Indian poet-philosopher Rabindranath Tagore who visited China in 1924.  Liang had devoted himself to the arduous task of translating into the Chinese language The Complete Works of Shakespeare while serving as Chairman of English Department and Dean of College of Liberal Arts, National Taiwan Normal University, until his retirement in 1966.


[3] Cf. Guo Qian, Impacts of Great Culture-Families upon China in the Last One Hundred Years (Haikou: Hainan: Hainan Press, 2006.)


[4] Dero A. Sanders (ed.),  a new and revised edition, The Autobiography of Edward Gibbon (New York: Meridian Books, 1961), p. 29.


[5] Cf. William A. Neilson and Charles J. Hill (eds.), The Complete Plays and Poems  of William Shakespeare (New York: Houghtom Mifflin Company, 1970, New Cambridge Edition), p. 294, “The Twelveth  Night,” Act. I, Scene 5.


[6]For the first accurate geneological account of our subject, we are deeply indebted to  the fruitful research work of Mr. Chen Jing (陈靖):  “A study of the Genesis of Thomé H. Fang, the Great Philosopher of Our Time,” Zongyang News--Anqing Daily, Supplements (in the 4th Column), Anqing, Anhui, China, September 22, 2007. 



[7]Cf. Lilliam K. Fang, “Thomé and Books,” cited in Suncrates, “Remembering Master Thomé H. Fang on his 30th Anniversary of Passing,” Biographic Literature, Taipei, June 2007, No. 541, p. 21..

[8] This title, together with an honorary rank as the 9th grade officer, was customarily granted him by government in recognition of his second son Fang Chen’s successful performance in the State Examination as xiucai (elementary candidate for official service).  This part of their family record was inscribed on a stone monument erected in 1903 in the family graveyard at Dongjiaji (East Submerged Rock), two miles away from the Dali Estate. The magnificent tome was favorably situated in a commanding height surrounded by waters in all directions, known in geomancy as “the mound for the geese flying in formation” signifying “all auspicious” for the younger generations who are destined for eminence, capable of flying in the open space, free and unobstructed, like the Magic Bird with Zhuangzi.  Believe it or not!


[9] The Fang family has 232 entries in the Chinese Who Is Who Dictionary.  From the Han to the Song Dynasty it had produced 31 nobles above the rank of count and marquis.  Its recent history is featured with top-lines in various fields, e.g., political revolution, military command, space science, computer science, medicine, business, sports, opera performance, martial arts, etc.  In sum, “Excellence” is their family emblem for centuries.

[10] Jonathan D. Spence, The Search for Modern China (New York:  W. W. Norton Company, 1999), p. 272.


[11] Cf. Thomé H. Fang, “Remembering Mr. Zuo Shunsheng: A Painful Memory – with reference to a few incidents of the Young China Society,” selected in Speeches of Master Thomé H. Fang (Taipei:  The Liming Cultural Enterprise Co., Ltd., 2005), p. 377.


[12] Ibid., p. 293.

[13] Bertrand Russell, The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (New York: An Atlantic Monthly Press Book, 1968), Vol. II, p. 184.

[14] A humorous remark Brand Blanshard made at the Philosophical Colloquium, invited by Lewis E. Hahn, Graduate School of Philosophy, SIUC, in Fall 1967.


[15] Jane M. Dewey, “Biography of John Dewey,” selected in Paul A Schilpp (ed.) The Philosophy of John Dewey (New York:  Tudor Publishing Co., 1939, 1951), p. 42.



[16]  Cf. Wu Xiaolong, The Young China Society (Shanghai: The Sanlian Books, 2006), pp. 58-59; retranslated back into the English by Suncrates.  The original version of this “Welcome Speech in honor of Professor John Dewey,” as informed in 1973 by Master Fang himself, was still in his keeping; he said that he would look for it in his leisure time; but unfortunately, it was never made available.  This passage, we hope, would help reconstruct an image of the young Master Fang at the age of 21 – a cosmopolitan-minded  philosopher in the making!


[17]  Ibid., p. 59.


[18]  Cf. George Santayana, “Dewey’s Naturalistic Metaphysics,” selected in Paul A. Schilpp (ed.), op. cit., p. 245; p. 247.


[19]  Cf. Dale M. Riepe, “Cosmological  …”     p. 150


[20] Cf. Bertrand Russell, “Dewey’s New Logic,” selected in Paul A. Schillp (ed.), op. cit., p. 138.

[21]  As H. G. Creel told me in the 1980 First International Conference in Sinology, Academia Sinica, held at the Grand Hotel, Taipei.


[22]  He KLin: A Critical Biography p. 21.


[23] John D. Randall, Jr.,

[24]  According to the official magazine of the Comintern and report of Voitinsky, organizer of the 1st Congree, the CCP was founded in June 1920, not in August 1921.

[25] Cf. Thomé H. Fang, Speeches of Master Thomé H.Fang (Taipei: the Liming Cultural Enterprise Co. Ltd., 2005), p. 403; p. 410.

[26]  Cf. Alan Schom, Napoleon Bonaparte (New York:  Harper Collins Publisher, 1997), front flap remarks.  [???????????????????]

[27] Edgar Snow, The Autobiography of Mao Zedong (Beijing:  The People Press, expanded edition, 1997), p. 10.


[28] Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, The Unknown Story of Mao (New Yor: Alfred A.Knopf, 2006), p. 16.

[29] Cf. Fang, “Remembering Zuo Shunsheng: A Painful Memory,” in Thomé H. Fang, op. cit., p. 380.


[30] The exact date of its founding varies: The official version of the CCP put it as June 30, 1921; the Comintern sources put it as November 1920. “That the Party was founded in 1920, not 1921, is confirmed both by the official magazine of the Comintern and one of the Moscow emissaries (Voitinsky) who organized the 1st Congress.” See Yung Chang and Jon Halliday, The Unknown Story of Mao (New York:  Alfred A. Knoff, 2006), p. 19.