Saturday, December 28, 2013
329 Europe, the main resource for the colonists to learn about China
Europe was the main resource for the colonists to learn about China before the "China Fever", generated by the famous voyage of the Empress of China, the first American commercial ship that reached China in 1784. There was no direct contact between China and North America before then. All Chinese products were brought to North America through Europe.
For the same token, Americans’ knowledge about China was also derived largely from European literary sources. Ever since the 17th century, the reports of European missionaries in China had been “so filled with admiration that European intellectuals were seized with a mania for things Chinese." Chinese philosophical “impact on Western philosophy was of far greater and more lasting significance.
The admiration of Chinese culture had become the characteristic of the Age of Enlightenment in Europe. Some prominent European thinkers turned to Confucian philosophy for theory to support their arguments in their debates on moral, political or religious issues. European "admiration for things Chinese reached its climax in Valtair's Essai Sur les Maurs (1756), which presented Confucius (551-479 BC) as “an anticipation of the philosophies of the eighteenth century"