From the 1950s to the 1970s, China has experienced a Natural Science Critique Movement, which lasted more than 20 years. With the start of this movement, some classics of science were successively translated into Chinese and got published. In the 1950s, China and the Soviet Union became socialist allies. So in the field of natural science, China was strongly influenced by the Soviet Union’s ideology. Therefore, how to select the classics of science followed two standards. One was to select the works which had be commended or criticized in Dialectics of Nature by F. Engels or Materialism and Empiriocriticism by V. Lenin (both books were seen as the philosophical guides of the natural science then), and the other was to be commended or criticized in the Soviet Union. At that time, these two standards were clearly reflected in the Sovietization of the Chinese college textbook. In the early 1960s, the alliance between China and the Soviet Union broke, but incredibly, Some Western classics of science became appreciated—Works of A. Einstein, E. Schrodinger, N. Bohr got published one after another, and some of them even became college textbooks. In the period of complete confrontation between China and the West, this phenomenon seems a little strange. In 1966, China launched a decade-long Cultural Revolution, in which the proletariat ideology and the bourgeoisie ideology struggled each other. Thus, in the field of the natural science, some Western theories of science were seen as idealism and metaphysics theories of the bourgeoisie. The publications of many classics of science became class struggle tools by which the Proletarian combated against the Bourgeois ideology. This situation lasted from the early 1970s to the end of 1976, when the Cultural Revolution was over.

In the 1980s of the 20th century, China entered a new period of reform and opening-up. Some classics of science had been translated into Chinese and got published since then. To respect the history,these works were required to “try to maintain the original style in the translation”. In this period, the publication of classics of science began to be deideological. In the 21st century, the government of China has strongly supported the publication of the classics of science, which have been accepted as the National Key Books and subsidized by government funds. This effort of the Government, on the one hand, is trying to inherit the great cultural heritage of human history, improve the public’s scientific literacy and earn the public’s recognition of the spiritual values of the science, and on the other hand, is trying to speed up the reform of the college education system deeply influenced by the Soviet Union’s, and urge the college education system to shift from special model to general model.

This article explored the communication history of the classics of science in China in the past 60 years, and inquired the complex relationship among the science, philosophy, ideology and education reform in China.

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The classics of science in P. R. China

Yanling Zhou   Peking University Press

From the 1950s to the 1970s, China has experienced a Natural Science Critique Movement, which lasted more than 20 years. With the start of this movement, some classics of science were successively translated into Chinese and got published. In the 1950s, China and the Soviet Union became socialist allies. So in the field of natural science, China was strongly influenced by the Soviet Union’s ideology. Therefore, how to select the classics of science followed two standards. One was to select the works which had be commended or criticized in Dialectics of Nature by F. Engels or Materialism and Empiriocriticism by V. Lenin (both books were seen as the philosophical guides of the natural science then), and the other was to be commended or criticized in the Soviet Union. At that time, these two standards were clearly reflected in the Sovietization of the Chinese college textbook. In the early 1960s, the alliance between China and the Soviet Union broke, but incredibly, Some Western classics of science became appreciated—Works of A. Einstein, E. Schrodinger, N. Bohr got published one after another, and some of them even became college textbooks. In the period of complete confrontation between China and the West, this phenomenon seems a little strange. In 1966, China launched a decade-long Cultural Revolution, in which the proletariat ideology and the bourgeoisie ideology struggled each other. Thus, in the field of the natural science, some Western theories of science were seen as idealism and metaphysics theories of the bourgeoisie. The publications of many classics of science became class struggle tools by which the Proletarian combated against the Bourgeois ideology. This situation lasted from the early 1970s to the end of 1976, when the Cultural Revolution was over.

In the 1980s of the 20th century, China entered a new period of reform and opening-up. Some classics of science had been translated into Chinese and got published since then. To respect the history,these works were required to “try to maintain the original style in the translation”. In this period, the publication of classics of science began to be deideological. In the 21st century, the government of China has strongly supported the publication of the classics of science, which have been accepted as the National Key Books and subsidized by government funds. This effort of the Government, on the one hand, is trying to inherit the great cultural heritage of human history, improve the public’s scientific literacy and earn the public’s recognition of the spiritual values of the science, and on the other hand, is trying to speed up the reform of the college education system deeply influenced by the Soviet Union’s, and urge the college education system to shift from special model to general model.

This article explored the communication history of the classics of science in China in the past 60 years, and inquired the complex relationship among the science, philosophy, ideology and education reform in China.

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