Research Article

Frontiers of Philosophy in China

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 609-627

First online:

On the problem of the meaning of life in “Chinese Philosophy”

  • Xize DengAffiliated withSchool of Political Science, Sichuan University Email author 


The goal of “(modern) Chinese Philosophy” established during the period of the May 4th Movement is to reestablish the meaning of life for Chinese people. However, because it takes the approach of interpreting Chinese thinking through a Western lens, thus forming a discourse pattern of “Chinese A is Western B,” which is only capable of manifesting Western culture, “Chinese Philosophy” is made logically impossible as the ideological source from which modern Chinese thinkers could construct the meaning of life. The ideological source of the still lasting traditional lifestyle is Yili Xue 义理学 (The Learning of Righteousness and Principles); whereas that of modern life, which was established as an imitation of the West, is Western culture. Neither of them takes “Chinese Philosophy” as its ideological source. Therefore, “Chinese Philosophy” is excluded from the construction of the meaning of life, and falls into the dilemma of life meaning.


Yili Xue meaning ideological source inquiry-response-action interpretation