Ethical Politics and Modern Society : T. H. Green’s Practical Philosophy and Modern China book cover
1st Edition

Ethical Politics and Modern Society
T. H. Green’s Practical Philosophy and Modern China

ISBN 9781138505360
Published September 25, 2019 by Routledge
168 Pages

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Book Description

Ethical Politics and Modern Society introduces and critically examines British idealist philosopher, Thomas Hill Green, his practical philosophy, and its reception in China between the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.

As a response to the modernity issue in Great Britain, Green's philosophy, in particular his ethical politics, anticipated a practical solution to the individual alienation issue in modern society. Witnessing the resemblance between Green’s ethical politics and classical Chinese ethical and political thought, some Chinese scholars became inclined to take Green’s thought as an intellectual approach to assimilate Western modernity. While Green and the Chinese scholars both intended to articulate an ethical conception of modern politics in response to the issue of modernity, their results were very different. In this book, James Jia-Hau Liu analyses why modern Chinese scholars introduced Green’s philosophy to China and why the studies of Green’s philosophy in China have since faded away. Modern Chinese scholars, such as Gao Yi-Han, Chin Yueh-Lin, Tang Jun-Yi, Chang Fo-Chuan, and Yin Hai-Guang, are explored in greater detail. The contradictory standings towards modernity between Green and Chinese scholars illustrate how to understand the difference forms of modernity that can be embodied therein.

Ethical Politics and Modern Society is a valuable resource to scholars of political philosophy, political theory, history of social and political thought, British idealism, and the work of Thomas Hill Green.

Table of Contents


1. Individual Emancipation after the Enlightenment

2. The Shadow of Metaphysics

3. Human Perfection and Moral Community

4. Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power

5. Green’s Practical Philosophy and Modern China


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James Jia-Hau Liu received his degree from Department of Politics and Internal Relations, Cardiff University, UK. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Research Center for Humanities and Social Science, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. His research interests include democratic theory, sovereignty, human rights, comparative intellectual history, and British idealism.


"Dr Liu is to be congratulated for writing an impressive book which addresses original and important questions, regarding the relationships between China and the British idealist philosopher and activist T.H. Green. Dr Liu’s central argument shows a detailed knowledge and understanding of the major contributions to the scholarship on Green’s theory of the will, political thought and practical activities. Dr Liu engages fully with the complete range of Green’s writings, including his political speeches and letters, which many other scholars have wrongly underemphasised. The result is a book that is scholarly, subtle and original."Professor Colin Tyler, Director of the Centre for Idealism and the New Liberalism, Hull University, UK

"Jia-Hau Liu’s volume provides a useful account of the practical philosophy of a key figure in the 19th century idealist movement in Britain, T.H. Green, and introduces readers to the little-known topic of Green’s relevance to philosophy in modern and contemporary China. Liu’s central claim – that Green’s thought was able to ‘migrate’ into East Asia because it was compatible with traditional Asian morality and also suggested a way for Asian countries to engage the modern West – will stimulate studies of the legacy of British idealism and provide insights that Chinese scholars may find useful in developing ethical theories today."William Sweet, FRHistS, FRSC, Professor and Chair of Philosophy at St Francis Xavier University, Canada and Editor of the Biographical Dictionary of British Idealism