Cai Yuanpei

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Cai Yuanpei
Cai Yuanpei-loc-nodate-crop.jpg
President of the Control Yuan
In office
1928 — 1929
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Zhao Daiwen
Personal details
Born January 11, 1868 (1868-01-11)
Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, China
Died March 5, 1940 (1940-03-06) (aged 72)
Hong Kong
Occupation President of Peking University
Revolutionary
Educator
Politician
Courtesy name
Simplified Chinese 鹤卿
Traditional Chinese 鶴卿
Sobriquet
Chinese 孑民
Literal meaning Lone Citizen

Cai Yuanpei (Chinese: 蔡元培; pinyin: Cài Yuánpéi; Wade–Giles: Ts'ai Yüan-p'ei) (January 11, 1868 – March 5, 1940) was a Chinese educator, Esperantist, president of Peking University, and founder of the Academia Sinica. He was known for his critical evaluation of Chinese culture and synthesis of Chinese and Western thinking, including anarchism. At Peking University he assembled influential figures in the New Culture and May Fourth Movements.

Biography[edit]

Born in Shānyīn Village, Shaoxing Subprefecture, Zhejiang, Cai was appointed to the Hanlin Imperial Academy at 26. In 1898, he became involved in administering institutes and became:

  • Superintendent of Shaoxing Chinese-Western School (紹興中西學堂監督)
  • Head of Sheng District Shanshan College (嵊縣剡山書院院長)
  • Director-Teacher of the Special Class (特班總教習) of Nanyang Public School (predecessor of Shanghai Jiao Tong University)

He established Guangfuhui in 1904 and joined Tongmenghui the next year. After studying philosophy, psychology, and art history in the Universität Leipzig of Germany in 1907 under Karl Lamprecht and Wilhelm Wundt,[1] he served as the provisional Republic's Minister of Education in January 1912, but later resigned during Yuan Shikai's presidency. Subsequently, he returned to Germany, and then went to France.

Cai returned to China in 1916 and served as the President of Peking University the following year. It was during his tenure at Peking University that he recruited such famous thinkers (and future Chinese Communist Party leaders) to the school as Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao, as well as quite different thinkers as Hu Shih, a close friend, and Liang Shuming. In 1919, after the student leaders of the May Fourth demonstrators were jailed, Cai resigned in protest (returning to office in September). After resigning again in 1922, he spent a period of withdrawal in France. Returning in 1926, he supported his fellow-provincial Chiang Kai-shek and the Guomindang Party's efforts to unite the country. He was appointed president of the Control Yuan, but soon resigned.[2]

Cai was frustrated in his efforts to remodel the national system of education to resemble the French system, but in 1927, he co-founded the National College of Music, which later became the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and in April 1928, he helped to found and became the first president of the Academia Sinica. He and a wide circle of colleagues founded the China League for Civil Rights which criticized the national government and Chiang Kai-shek for abuse of power. The situation worsened, however; the League could not attain the release from jail of Chen Duxiu, Cai's former dean at Peking University, for instance. In June 1933, the Academia Sinica's academic administrator and co-founder of the League, Yang Quan, was shot and killed in the street in front of the League's Shanghai offices. After a period of shock and reflection, Cai retired from public view in a statement denouncing the political repression of the Nanjing government.[3]

After the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, partly because of declining health, instead of accompanying the national government to Sichuan, Cai moved to Hong Kong. He lived there in seclusion until his death in March 1940 at the age of 72.[4]

Thought[edit]

Cai advocated the equal importance of five ways of life — "Virtue, Wisdom, Health, Collective, and Beauty" (德、智、體、群、美) — core values that are still taught in schools today in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. He was also a proponent of women's right to divorce and remarry, he strongly opposed foot binding and concubinage that were widely practiced in China at the time.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cai Jianguo (1998). Cai Yuanpei: Gelehrter und Mittler zwischen Ost und West (in German). translated by: Stichler, Hans Christian. Münster [u.a.] 
  • Wang Peili (1996). Wilhelm von Humboldt und Cai Yuanpei: eine vergleichende Analyse zweier klassischer Bildungskonzepte in der deutschen Aufklärung und in der ersten chinesischen Republik (in German). Münster, New York: Waxmann. 
  • "Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei," in Howard L. Boorman, ed., Biographical Dictionary of Republican China Volume 3 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967; ISBN 0231089570) pp. 295– 299.
  • Timothy B. Weston. The Power of Position: Beijing University, Intellectuals, and Chinese Political Culture, 1898-1929. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004; ISBN 0520237676).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gao Zhipeng The Emergence of Modern Psychology in China, 1876 – 1922; Jing Qicheng and Fu Xiaolan Modern Chinese psychology: Its indigenous roots and international influences. International Journal of Psychology, 36(6), 2001, 408. doi:10.1080/00207590143000234
  2. ^ Boorman, Biographical Dictionary, Vol III, pp. 297-298.
  3. ^ Boorman, Biographical Dictionary, Vol III, p. 298.
  4. ^ Boorman, Biographical Dictionary, Vol III, p. 299.

See also[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Position created
President of the Control Yuan
1928—1929
Succeeded by
Zhao Daiwen