Talk:Philip A. Kuhn
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I have no idea why they hired Kuhn. My best guess is that Fairbank really liked him and made the decision but that is just conjecture. I suppose we will need to wait until the archives are opened but I am not sure about Harvard's policies in that regard. Regards, Wusiyundong —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wusiyundong (talk • contribs) 01:22, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for your long and thoughtful reply. I also appreciate its friendly tone. I can't say you have convinced me 100%, but you have definitely influenced my thinking and changed my perspective. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.127.116.11 (talk) 18:20, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for your compliments. Formatting in Wikipedia can be easily handled with the menu buttons at the top of the edit page. For example, the right hand button inserts a footnoted citation and the large "A" in the middle elevates the selected text to subject status. Moving one's mouse over the icons causes text describing the button's functionality to appear. It is pretty straight forward.
Not sure why the LOC citations don't work. I will have to investigate further when I have a free moment.
Your comments on Kuhn versus Fairbank I think implies two questions of historical interest. Why did Harvard appoint an individual with such a thin vita (one book, only an associate professor, no successful students, etc.) to what in 1978 was the lead position for the field? And in retrospect was that a good decision for Harvard and the field of Chinese history? The first question will become answerable when Harvard opens its archives to researchers but the second will prove harder to resolve as suggested by our differing opinions.
I would argue that any judgment of Kuhn's tenure as the occupant of Fairbank's chair must consider three questions.
- How did Kuhn represent and present the field to society? Academics my be a sanctuary from the larger world but it cannot escape it for both positive and negative reasons. Only the field's leader(s) can effectively represent the field to the outside world on many issues. Scholars and particularly the leaders also have an obligation to use their knowledge for the benefit of society and to enhance public discourse.
- Did he, like Fairbank, nurture the field by grooming future scholars, encouraging and enabling diverse points of views and fostering increased interest in Chinese studies?
- Was he a productive scholar both in terms of the volume and quality of his work?
On the first question, I think the record is clear as you suggest in an earlier discussion comment that Kuhn ignored this role perhaps to the detriment of Harvard, Chinese studies and the level of public discourse at a time of transition in US - China relations. I have no idea how successful he was in raising funds, encouraging governmental and foundation support of students and research or supporting the publication of academic works.
On the second question, I think that the record is also clear that Kuhn was relatively unproductive. You mention only two major scholars that studied with him (Kirby and Duara) and, of course, an institution like Harvard will always attract and graduate some superior minds with or without faculty help. Analogous to an alchemist who turns gold into gold. On the question of enabling diverse points of view, Kuhn seems much more normative in his thinking than Fairbank and therefore less willing to support alternative perspectives. In this light, his defense of Larry Summers is perhaps interesting because it suggests his inherent favoring of the status quo.
On the third question, we clearly disagree. You personally like his books and are impressed by the positive reviews of Wakeman, Rowe, Duara, Wang Gungwu, etc. I, on the other hand, view Kuhn's books as solid works that are elegantly written and well documented but certainly not earth shaking. They fill in the blanks and give us new details but do not fundamentally change our understanding of Chinese history. In other words, a solid contributor but not the Max Weber of Chinese history. I also take the compliments in reviews with a grain of salt given the value of civility in academia, the fact that Kuhn held a prestigious and powerful position in the field, personal relationships and the inherent graciousness of someone like Wakeman. I don't know how we can resolve this issue to anyone's satisfaction. I suspect that senior scholars have differing opinions while a popularity vote of viewers of this discussion won't add much value. I do hope you will agree that in terms of quantity, four books in almost fifty years as a professor is not impressive. - Preceding comment added by Wusiyundong 05:22, 18 March 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wusiyundong (talk • contribs)
Also, there's some problem with the citations that are supposed to go to the Library of Congress -- they don't seem to work right now. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 18.104.22.168 (talk) 20:56, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Hi Wusiyundong -- thanks for helping to edit this more, the layout looks much better than I could make it too. I have a few comments and questions to post here rather than making my own edits on the main page.
-Maybe we should delete 'Homeland' as a monograph -- it's only a couple dozen pages
-Strauss connection should be documented if we can do it -- wiki page doesn't mention Kuhn as a descendant
-Isn't the Qing doc text completely different from the original 1960s updated JKF one, and based on what Kuhn got from his time in Beijing? It's kind of like how John let Paul be listed as a cowriter of a bunch of Beatles songs.
-JKF certainly did an enormous amount institutionally for China studies. But in retrospect doesn't it seem that while he was a great writer (in my opinion -- I really like the books of his I've read) and a warm man (I wouldn't know, but I believe your opinion in a previous edit), his actual arguments and interpretations are viewed as problematic? Kuhn's (for the moment anyway -- we can check back in twenty years) seem more robust and reliable. The quality of his publications also seems higher. Obviously, JKF did edit and publish more, and he deserves credit for that amazing output.
These are just my opinions. I know you think they're biased and wrong, but I think the same thing about yours. I don't know what this means for how the entry should be written. All the people I can find who seem important in the Chinese history field (Rowe, Duara, Wakeman, Wang Gungwu, etc) seem to offer high praise for Kuhn. Can someone find documentation for the more negative interpretation? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk) 20:40, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
RE: guest contributor 126.96.36.199 [another Stanford ip address]. I think everyone would like a fair and balanced page. But do you really think that serious Chinese scholars, including Kuhn himself, would consider Kuhn's achievements to be equivalent to Fairbank's? There is not even a contest in terms of the number of students placed in major universities who became the lions of the field, the number of publications written, the establishment of Chinese history as a major academic area, the description of the broad parameters of modern Chinese history within which numerous scholars have filled in the blanks and even the creation of the Ching Documents book which you incorrectly attribute to Kuhn alone. Perhaps the issue here is one of insufficient historical knowledge and perspective. - Preceding comment added by Wusiyundong 06:05, 17 March 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wusiyundong (talk • contribs)
Hi -- I went and added some sources about the significance of his books and some estimations of him by Rowe, Wakeman, etc. I hope this helps. Also, there used to be a more full bibliography at the bottom but that somehow got deleted.
Hey there -- I'm not a student of Kuhn's, and don't mean to be adulatory, but I would like to see a clean and good article. I also appreciate that Wusiyundong seems to know and has added a lot of information that I didn't about Kuhn and that isn't obviously accessible online. I agree that Eliot House and the faculty meeting points are not essential, though I thought they added interesting color (like his relation to Strauss, the jean manufacturer, e.g. -- though that is not cited to anything, as far as I can tell). My subjective but (I think) informed impression is that Kuhn is at least as well regarded from an academic point of view as JKF, though he certainly didn't have (or want) much involvement with the US government. I'm open to hearing from other people on how we might evaluate this or present the 'facts' in a balanced way. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.8.131.52 (talk) 20:34, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
The tone of guest contributor 184.108.40.206's [a Stanford ip address] comments is one of adulation rather than objective presentation of the facts for an encyclopedia. What, for example, is the significance to a general audience of Kuhn's attempts at a faculty meeting to defend Larry Summers? And why should anyone care about the identity of six of his students or that Eliot House is prestigious? I would guess that both 220.127.116.11 and Shimodatoy are students of Kuhn who are trying to add significance to their own personal lives.
Comparing Kuhn's performance to his predecessor, Fairbank, is valid because the successes of Fairbank, as described in his Wikipedia entry and elsewhere, were missing during Kuhn's tenure. As a historical figure, Kuhn is notable both for his accomplishments and for his failings. If Wikipedia is to be reputable it must be even handed in its descriptions of reality and avoid simply presenting fawning praise. As for some of my edits being "unreferenced," there are, aside from my additions, almost no citations on any of the contributions to this listing. If 18.104.22.168 has documentation then perhaps he or she should add them to Wikipedia.
Recent edits by Wusiyundong, while adding some valuable information, are loaded with unreferenced and invidious commentary. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk) 20:58, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
I feel have gone some way to addressing Kuhn's significance with subsequent edits. He is certainly at least as influential as other China scholars with developed pages: cf William Kirby, Elizabeth Perry, Frederick Wakeman, etc. This article will grow and make that clear.
- As reviewing admin, I think it's clear that he's notable. The rules are at WP:PROF, But what you must do is show it, and this is usually by demonstrating that the books he wrote made him an influence on the profession, as shown by book reviews in published sources. Find them all, and add them as references. Remember not to copy anything from his web site, or that of a publisher, but rewrite it. DGG (talk) 06:43, 3 July 2009 (UTC)