Biography in English

Chang Chia-sen 張嘉森 T. Chün-mai West. Carsun

Chang Chang Chia-sen (1886-), known as Carsun Chang, a leading supporter of Liang Ch'ich'ao's ideas and movements, worked for the establishment of constitutional government in the early 1900's. Prominent in the attempt to focus attention in China on cultural and educational activities, he studied philosophy in Germany and was a leading figure in the science-philosophy debates of 1923. Opposing the oneparty system of the Kuomintang, in the 1930's he established the National Socialist party. After 1952 he lived in the United States.

Born in the Paoshan district of Kiangsu into a family of some affluence, Carsun Chang, the elder brother of Chang Kia-ngau (Chang Chia-ao, q.v.), received his early education in the Confucian classics from tutors, including several prominent scholars of the area. In 1901, he and his brother enrolled at the Institute of Modern Languages at Shanghai. There he received his middle school education and began to study German.

During these formative years, Carsun Chang became interested in the political theories of the reformers K'ang Yu-wei and Liang Ch'i-ch'ao (qq.v.). From 1905 until 1909, Carsun Chang was in Tokyo, where he studied law and political economy at Waseda University. In 1907 he joined an organization known as the Cheng-wen-she, established at Tokyo by associates of Liang Ch'i-ch'ao to make plans for the creation of constitutional government in China. Early in 1908, when the headquarters of that organization moved to Shanghai, Carsun Chang was one of the members who continued to carry on its affairs in Japan. He was then in correspondence with Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, and he supported Liang's ideas of constitutional government for China. After graduation from Waseda in 1909, Carsun Chang returned to China. There he took and passed the government examinations which the Ch'ing court had established for Chinese students returning from abroad after the abolition of the examination system in 1905. Chang was awarded the degree of chin-shih and appointed a compiler of the Hanlin Academy (these latter-day distinctions were viewed with condescension by the older Chinese scholar-officials, who had taken their degrees in the traditional and more difficult manner). In 1911 Chang became an editor of the Tientsin- Peking Shih-pao. During that period he was in close touch with Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and his associates, who were attempting to promote support for the new national parliament to be created by the Ch'ing court. After the Wuhan revolt and the establishment of the republic in 1912, Carsun Chang met at Shanghai with Lin Ch'ang-min, T'ang Hua-lung (qq.v.), Sun Hung-i, and other associates of Liang Ch'i-ch'ao to make plans for the establishment of a constitutional parliament and to launch a political party to accomplish that task. In December 1912, with the appearance of Liang Ch'i-ch'ao's new magazine, Yung-yen [justice], he became its assistant editor and a frequent contributor.

Carsun Chang's personal involvement with Chinese politics was interrupted in 1913, when he went to Europe to study Western philosophy. From 1913 until 1915 he was at the University of Berlin. He then left Germany to go to England, where he studied for some months. By 1916, when he left London to return to China, he was convinced that Germany would lose the war and was a strong advocate of China's entry into the conflict on the other side. After his arrival in China, he became head of the bureau of foreign affairs of the Chekiang provincial government at Hangchow. He also conferred with Liang Ch'i-ch'ao regarding the question of China's entry into the war and the general political situation in China. In late 1916 and early 1917 Carsun Chang, on behalf of Liang, attempted to sound out the views of Chang Hsun and Feng Kuo-chang (qq.v.). Actually, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao's efforts to play an influential role at Peking were frustrated by the leadership of Tuan Ch'i-jui (q.v.), with the result that most of these intellectuals became increasingly dubious about seeking national regeneration through this government, and many retired from politics. One of them, Chang Tung-sun (q.v.), moved to Shanghai to become chief editor of the independent daily newspaper, the Shih-shih hsin-pao [China times]. Carsun Chang joined the staff of that newspaper as its manager.

Sharing Liang Ch'i-ch'ao's desire to focus attention on cultural and educational activities, he also lectured at Peking University in 1918. At the end of that year, when Liang Ch'i-ch'ao left for Europe as an unofficial delegate to the Paris Peace Conference, a small group of personal friends accompanied him. The entourage included Carsun Chang, Chiang Fang-chen (q.v.), and V. K. Ting (Ting Wen-chiang, q.v.). Carsun Chang then spent the postwar years from 1919 to 1922 in Germany, where he read philosophy at Jena under Rudolf Euken. Euken's emphasis on the human sense of moral obligation appealed to Carsun Chang, and he collaborated with the elderly philosopher in writing Das Lebensproblem in China und Europa, which was published in Leipzig in 1922. Chang was also interested in the French philosopher Henri Bergson, in whose writings he found support for his own variety of humanistic Confucianism. Yet his studies at Jena were not entirely confined to philosophy. He also attended the lectures of the jurist Karl Korsch, from whom he gained increased knowledge of European political concepts and systems of government, including German state socialism, Russian Communism, and English parliamentary government. And he was a close observer of contemporary developments in Europe, including the establishment of the Bela Kun dictatorship in Hungary and the early activities of the Communist International.

Carsun Chang was instrumental in inviting the German philosopher and biologist Hans Driesch to go to China for the Chiang-hsueh-she [lecture association]. This association was a project of Liang Ch'i-ch'ao; its purpose was to invite distinguished Western scholars to China. Driesch, known for his concern with vitalistic biology and for his impatience with the mechanistic assumptions behind much contemporary scientific thinking, had an unanticipated impact on Chinese intellectuals. Carsun Chang, after returning to China, served as his interpreter at Peking, and soon afterwards was requested by the students at Tsinghua University to deliver a lecture himself. The result was the famous statement entitled "Jen-sheng kuan" [philosophy of life], which, published in the Tsing-hua Weekly in February 1923, sparked a lively intellectual debate that engaged many ofChina's nimblest minds. Chang's subject was suggested by the title of a book by Rudolf Eucken, Die Lebensanschauungen der grossen Denker (Leipzig, 1890; English translation, The Problem of Human Life, New York, 1909). Its message was that science, with its orientation toward the external world of matter, was powerless to solve the spiritual problems of human life and was leading Western civilization into materialism and moral degeneracy. Chang declared that a sound philosophy of life must not rely upon the determinism of scientific laws, but on man's intuition and his free will. Aroused by the attack upon scientific method, V. K. Ting issued a refutation of Carsun Chang's arguments in which he sought to defend the value of science both for human intellectual life and for Chinese university education. Chang Tung-sun, Hu Shih (q.v.), Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, and many other leading minds of the day participated in the debate. By the end of 1923 a collection of the most important articles written during the course of the argument was published in two volumes as K'o-hsueh yü jen-sheng-kuan [science and the philosophy of life] .

In 1923 the civil governor of Kiangsu province, Han Kuo-chun, invited Carsun Chang to serve as head of the National Institute of Self-Government at Shanghai. Chang reorganized that institution into National Political University [kuo-li cheng-chih ta-hsueh], stiffened its entrance requirements and academic discipline, and invited several well-known scholars to lecture there. The group included Chang Tung-sun, and Chang Tung-sun's elder brother, Chang Erh-t'ien (q.v.), as well as P'an Kuang-tan (q.v.), and K. C. Wu (Wu Kuo-chen, q.v.). Carsun Chang lectured on a wide variety of topics, including current political affairs. Six of his lectures, surveying aspects of the current civil war situation in China, were published by the school in 1924 under the title Kuo-nei chan-cheng liu-chiang. The rapidly changing military situation posed new problems for Carsun Chang. In November 1926 he spent ten days at Hankow observing the Kuomintang-led National Government and estimating the prospects of the Northern Expedition. On his return to Shanghai he published his observations, Wuhan chien-wen, and openly stated his views at Political University. He predicted a collapse of the Peiyang warlords and a split between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist party. He also stated his opposition to the one-party system of the Kuomintang and urged his students to hold fast to the principles of democracy, which to him meant Western parliamentary democracy.

When the Northern Expedition reached Shanghai in March 1927, Carsun Chang was persona non grata both because of his political views and because of his associations with Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and with unorthodox groups. The Kuomintang closed National Political University. After the establishment of the National Government at Nanking, Chang and his associates at Shanghai secretly published a magazine, Hsin-lu [new way], which opposed the one-party system of political tutelage of the Kuomintang and urged the government to institute a multi-party system which would permit democracy to develop. Because of these activities, Chang was seized by the Kuomintang authorities and was placed under house arrest by the Shanghai garrison commander. He was released after about a month of confinement and, according to his account given in Third Force in China (1952), was "compelled to leave the country." Chang's activities between 1927 and 1931 are obscure. He remained in retirement, reportedly occupying himself with reading and with the translation of Harold Laski's Grammar of Politics. He also maintained contact with Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, who was lecturing on Chinese history at Peking. In a letter of September 1928 to Liang, Carsun Chang stated that he had heard from V. K. Ting, who had been living in semi-retirement at Dairen after the Nationalist occupation of Shanghai. From about 1929 to 1931 Carsun Chang was again in Germany, where he continued his philosophical studies and lectured on Chinese philosophy at the University of Jena and perhaps also at Berlin. Chang returned to China in 1931, arriving at Peiping on 17 September, the day before the Mukden Incident. He resumed his political activities, which were designed to bring democratic government to China. Through his old friend Chang Tung-sun, who had become professor of philosophy at Yenching University, and doubtless because of that personal connection, he lectured at Yenching that winter. In April 1932 a group desirous of organizing a new political party met at Peiping. The group then included some 100 members, most of them college professors and former associates of Liang Ch'i-ch'ao. Carsun Chang was elected general secretary of the new party, and a new magazine called Tsai-sheng [renaissance], was established to propagate the group's political program. Since dissenting political organizations were forbidden by the National Government at Nanking, the group was illegal, and it remained a secret, underground organization until 1938. Carsun Chang himself traveled between Peiping and Hong Kong, attempting to recruit new members and to avoid agents of the Kuomintang.

In the autumn of 1934, Carsun Chang and his supporters held a national meeting at Tientsin and formally announced the establishment of the National Socialist party [kuo-chia she-hui tang] . The confusing and unfortunate similarity of the name of the new party to that of the party led by Adolf Hitler in Germany was accidental. In his political report, Chang stressed the threat to China posed by Japanese aggression and called for a build-up of Chinese defenses. After the meeting he went to Shansi to discuss national defense problems with Yen Hsi-shan (q.v.), the veteran ruler of that province. In an attempt to expand the influence of the new party, Chang and his colleagues also approached a number of retired military and political figures.

In 1934 Carsun Chang went to Canton, where he was well received by Ch'en Chi-t'ang, who was then the dominant military figure in south China. Ch'en invited him to lecture at National Sun Yat-sen University. Under the protection of Ch'en Chi-t'ang, Carsun Chang also established a new educational institution, the Hsueh-hai shu-t'ang, at Canton, staffed by professors from Sun Yat-sen and Lingnan universities and designed to teach both regular students and soldiers. The situation at Canton changed abruptly, however, in the summer of 1936, when Nanking moved to end the insubordination of the Southwest Political Council. With the downfall of Ch'en Chi-t'ang, the Hsueh-hai shu-t'ang was disbanded, and Carsun Chang fled from Canton to take refuge at Shanghai. At the second national congress of the National Socialist party, held in 1936, he was again elected general secretary of the organization. The year also saw the appearance of one of Carsun Chang's better-known books, Aling-jih chih Chung-kuo wen-hua [China's culture tomorrow], a comparative survey of the cultures of Europe, India, and China. He argued that Europe was distinguished by its science and its freedom; India, by its metaphysical preoccupations; and China, by its concern with human relationships. Drawing upon ideas propounded earlier by Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and his group in the 1918-19 period, Chang argued that reform in China should start with human attitudes and should construct a new culture to serve as the basis for new political and economic systems. In the construction of that new culture, China should look to the post-Reformation culture of Europe and should adopt the spirit, but not the forms, of that vigorous period to China's traditional cultural heritage.

After the outbreak of the Japanese war in 1937, Carsun Chang, like other minor party leaders in China, dropped his opposition to Chiang Kai-shek and rallied to the cause of national unity. In August of that year he accepted the invitation of the National Government to become a member of the national defense advisory council at Nanking. In 1938 he followed the government to Hankow, where he was one of the seven members of the National Socialist party in the People's Political Council. After an exchange of notes with Chiang Kai-shek concerning the united front, the National Socialist party was recognized officially. Between May and July of 1938 Chang gave a series of lectures at Hankow regarding his principles of national socialism. The lectures, later published in book form as Li-kuo chih tao [toward the founding of the state], set forth the aims of the National Socialist party. Basically, Chang advocated a modified Western parliamentary system of democratic government and a modified form of state socialism for China. Within the framework of democracy, political parties were to have freedom of action, competing with mutual good will, but not attempting to destroy each other or the system of government. Every citizen was to have the right to express his views freely and to participate in the government. Under a national constitution, an elected representative assembly would choose members of a central executive yuan and would draw up the administrative program to be carried out by the executive yuan. With the exception of heads of ministries, all government employees were to have non-political status. In his socialist program, Chang envisaged state control of heavy industries such as steel, mines, hydroelectric plants, and communications. The state would also supervise, if not own, large industries such as the textile industry. Private ownership and management in all economic activities not "harmful" to the state was to be permitted.

In 1939 Carsun Chang followed the National Government to Chungking, attempting to promote nationalism through education. With the backing of the government and with funds provided by its Military Council, a new Min-tsu wen-hua shu-yuan [institute of national culture] was organized. Chang was named its principal, though the board of directors was composed f f such reliable Kuomintang figures as Ch'en Pu-lei (q.v.). Formally opened in July 1939 at Chungking, the new institute, with Carsun Chang himself giving the lectures on philosophy, laid emphasis on min-tsu ssu-hsiang [national thought]. In 1940 he moved with the new institute to Ta-li in Yunnan province, where the governor, Lung Yun, had provided grounds for it. During 1941, however, growing student discontent in Yunnan introduced new complications. Lo Lung-chi, a member of the standing committee of the National Socialist party who was then at Southwest Associated University at Kunming, was accused of stirring up anti-government sentiment among the students. Carsun Chang, as leader of that party, came under suspicion. In December 1941, he went to Chungking to attend a meeting of the People's Political Council. Chang was ordered to remain there, and in the spring of 1942 the institute at Ta-li was closed down by the government.

The most notable development in Chinese national politics at that time was the breakdown of the united front of the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist party. Carsun Chang joined with Tso Shun-sheng of the China Youth party, and with other minority political figures and intellectuals such as Chang Lan, Huang Yen-p'ei, Liang Shu-ming (qq.v.), and others to form a political third force in an effort to maintain the united front during the war. These various opposition elements joined forces in 1941 to form the League of Chinese Democratic Political Groups. In October 1944 that federation held a congress at Chungking and was reorganized as the China Democratic League, with Chang Lan as its chairman. In the spring of 1945, as a representative of the league, Carsun Chang was appointed by the National Government as a member of the Chinese delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, California. In October 1945, when the China Democratic League held another congress at Chungking, he was elected to its central committee and made head of its committee on foreign relations. In January 1946, when the abortive Political Consultative Conference was convened at Chungking, Carsun Chang, who was then on the way to England from the United States, was called to attend as one of the four representatives of the China Democratic League; the others were Chang Lan, Chang Tung-sun, and Lo Lung-chi. He hastened back to China and arrived in time to attend the second session of the conference.

While in San Francisco in 1945, Carsun Chang had met Li Ta-ming, a leader of the Democratic Constitutional party then headed by Wu Hsien-tzu. That group was the direct successor of the Monarchist party [pao-huang tang] of K'ang Yu-wei and Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, but had removed the royalist element implied in the original party because of the establishment of the republic in China. Carsun Chang and Li Ta-ming had then discussed possible amalgamation of their parties. In August 1946, at a meeting held at Shanghai, the National Socialist party of Carsun Chang and the Democratic Constitutional party of Li Ta-ming and Wu Hsien-tzu combined to form the new Democratic Socialist party. That party's platform opposed civil war and one-party or oneclass dictatorship and advocated national unity under a central government and state socialism in major industries. As the national landscape in China was increasingly dominated by civil war after 1947, the leaders of the China Democratic League, which had been outlawed by the National Government, moved increasingly toward acceptance of the general political program outlined by the Chinese Communist party. Carsun Chang remained at Nanking, however, and continued to argue for constitutionalism as the situation eroded. He finally left Shanghai on 25 April 1949 and moved to the Portugese colony of Macao off the south China coast.

In October 1949, when the Central People's Government was established at Peking, Chang went to India to lecture on philosophy at the invitation of the Indian ministry of education. On 24 May 1950 he announced his resignation as chairman of the Democratic Socialist party. In March 1952 he arrived in Hong Kong, where his name was for a time linked with those of Chang Fa-k'uei and Ku Meng-yu (qq.v.) in the possible formation of a third force movement. In April 1952 Carsun Chang flew from Hong Kong to Japan, whence he moved to the United States. His political autobiography was published in New York in 1952. Entitled Third Force in China, the book offers an interpretive account of events in China from Sun Yat-sen to Mao Tse-tung and provides a not unbiased account of the personal role of Carsun Chang in recent Chinese political history. The book has been described as being critical of Chiang Kai-shek, of United States wartime and postwar policy toward China, and of the Chinese Communists as betraying China's tradition.

After 1952 Carsun Chang devoted himself largely to writing on Chinese philosophy. His best-known study is an historical survey, The Development of Neo-Confucian Thought, published in two volumes (1957, 1962), a work which is of interest partly because its author views himself as a twentieth-century Neo-Confucianist. The work is a detailed, interpretive history of this stream in Chinese philosophy from T'ang and Sung times, incorporating many brief translations and stressing comparisons and contrasts with Western thought. An article entitled "The Significance of Mencius," which appeared in 1958 in the journal Philosophy East and West, suggested that Mencius had a greater influence on Chinese thought than did Confucius and noted some analogies between the thought of Mencius and that of such thinkers as Plato and Kant. The great Ming dynasty Neo-Confucian thinker Wang Yang-ming also has been the subject of Chang's attention in recent years. An article on Wang in Philosophy East and West offered a brief, non-technical interpretation of his philosophy; Chang's book on the subject was published in 1962 under the title Wang Yang-ming: Idealist Philosopher of Sixteenth- Century China. Carsun Chang's interesting essay regarding the Ming-li Van, a 1631 text on logic by the seventeenth-century Chinese Christian scholar, Li Chih-tsao (ECCP, I, 452-54), appeared in the Hong Kong magazine Tsai-sheng in March 1954. He also wrote China and Gandhian India, which was published in Calcutta in 1956.

Biography in Chinese


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