HIST400: Postwar Japan

Document Type

Student Paper

Publication Date

Spring 2022


Asian History | Asian Studies | Other Philosophy

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

The Proletarian Cultural Revolution marked the near destruction of Chinese tradition and put intellectuals in China in danger – Chairman Mao Zedong stopped at nothing to ensure anything and anyone that opposed his politics would either be assimilated or removed. Some intellectuals chose to appease him – out of fear or naivete, while others stood firm in their beliefs. This paper examines the similarities and differences between the lives and fates of two philosophers during the rise and fall of Mao Zedong - Feng Youlan and Zhang Dongsun. Both philosophers were amiable towards socialism, even before Mao rose to power. After 1949, Feng took the steps to further assimilate towards communism, while Zhang tried to reconcile socialism and capitalism. Feng faithfully engaged in Mao’s plans for thought reform, writing self-criticisms and critiques of Confucianism to secure his own safety. Zhang was framed for espionage and failed to promote communism. This paper takes a closer look at the lives of both philosophers, examining their choices and circumstances to conclude why Feng survived the Cultural Revolution while Zhang passed away in prison.