S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) Institute of Humanities (인문학연구원) Journal of humanities (인문논총) Journal of Humanities vol.58 (2007) (인문논총)
5·4시기 중국의 신구 세대 갈등 : Generation Gap of the May Fourth Period in China
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- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 인문대학 인문학연구원
- 인문논총, Vol.58, pp. 3-43
- Though the New Culture Movement (NCM) continued only about 4years, it caused a drastic shift in the ideological trend of Chinese society. This iconoclastic anti-traditional movement pursued a whole-scale westernization, and drove Chinese society to a cultural and ideological clash. The leaders of NCM attacked the Confucian tradition and its ethical principles which oppressed women and young generation while supporting the despotic imperial system. They did not accept the common premise of the Chinese modernization movement which regarded the Chinese value system as body (or principle 體) and the Western political system and scientific techniques as practical methods(用). The NCM intellectuals achieved the most salient accomplishment in the New Literature Movement
that resulted in the nationwide use of vernacular writing instead of literary
Chinese contained confucian way, the Tao(道).
Conservative intellectuals criticized the anti-traditional movement of
NCM intellectuals, emphasizing the everlasting value of Chinese tradition.
Though the debate between 'new intellectuals' and 'old intellectuals' was
not a matter of generation gap but of attitude toward tradition and history,
it was called 'the debate of old and new,' because the conservative
intellectuals were regarded as representatives of the 'old Chinese culture'
while the NCM intellectuals seemed as advocates of the 'new Western
Generation gap of the May Fourth period appeared between parent
generation keeping traditional ethical standards and youth generation
baptized by the messages of individualism and 'liberation from shackles of
confucian tradition'. Chinese movement of women's liberation was
disseminated as a part of anti-Confucian and anti-traditional movement.
Most conflicting arena of generation gap was the marriage question. The
educated youth insisted self-decision for their own marriage while most of
parents preferred early marriage engagement of their children and regarded
It is true that the charisma of Confucianism gave way and the thoughts
of Chinese youth of the May Fourth period was far different from the older
generations in a sense that they regarded Democracy and Science as their
principles of thinking and behavior. However, it was so hard to change
concrete and practical matter of real life. After the May Fourth Movement
the nationalistic sentiment arose and the efforts of rediscovering treasures
of Chinese tradition grew on one hand, and the pursuit for social reform
and for radical methods of 'Strong and Equal China' found the
direction/way in Marxism-Leninism, Communism of Russian Model on the
other hand. Liberalism in China had never attracted national support since
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