ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (8): 920-928.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00920

• Theory and History of Psychology • Previous Articles    

An investigation into Zhi Quan Ju Shi’s coinage of the term Xin Li (Xue) in the late Qing dynasty

YAN Shu-Chang()   

  1. Department of Psychology, Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang 050024, China
  • Received:2017-11-28 Published:2018-08-25 Online:2018-07-02


Chinese scholar Zhi Quan Ju Shi [执权居士] originally created Xin Li (Xue) [心理(学)] as the name of psychology or mental philosophy in 1872, which was earlier than Japanese scholar Amane Nishi’s usage of Xin Li Xue [心理学] in 1875. This paper argues that late Qing Dynasty’s Chi Ping Sou [持平叟], Zhi Quan Ju Shi [执权居士], Chi Ping Zi [持平子], Chi Ping Ju Shi [持平居士] and Gong Dao Lao Ren [公道老人] were the same person, whose real name was Zhu Fengjia [朱逢甲]. A well-educated scholar, Zhu had rich knowledge in Chinese traditional culture. Meanwhile, through helping a few Western missionaries to establish a newspaper in China, Zhu had contacts with western disciplines and gained a sense of modern knowledge system. In an 1871 article on anthroposophy, Zhu used the words Xin Zhi Li Yu Shi [心之理与事] the laws and facts of the mind) from a perspective of psychology, laying out the basis for his coinage of the term Xin Li Xue. The interaction between Chinese and Western knowledge constituted the cultural context in which Zhu created the term Xin Li Xue. However, Zhu’s coinage of the term did not have the same degree of influence as the one by Amane Nishi.

During the late Qing Dynasty, with the import of psychological knowledge, Western missionaries and Chinese intellectuals created the following names for the subject: Ling Hun Xue [灵魂学] used by W. Lobscheid in 1868 and E. Faber in 1873. Xin Ling Xue [心灵学] used by C.W. Mateer in 1876 and Yan Yongjing in 1889; Xin Cai Xue [心才学] and Xin Xing Xue [心性学] by Yan Yongjing 1882. Xin Xing Xue was also used by J. Edkins in 1886. Xing Qing Xue [性情学] was used by H. B. Loch in 1886. Xin Xue [心学] was used by Yan Fu [严复] in 1895. Xing Xue [性学] was used by W. A. P. Martin in 1898. Ling Xue [灵学] was used by D. Z. Sheffield in 1890s. Although these subject names were not adopted by later Chinese intellectuals, they were all products of Chinese traditional culture encountering Western psychology. Of particular note was the non-elite intellectual Zhu Fengjia’s original creation of the term Xin Li Xue, as used in Chinese psychology and Japanese psychology today. This paper suggests that although non-elite Chinese intellectuals’ contribution were not huge and often ignored by subsequent generations, they nonetheless offered wisdom to some important events, such as the coinage of the term Xin Li Xue.

Key words: Xin Li Xue, Zhi Quan Ju Shi, Zhu Fengjia, Chinese and Western cultural interaction

CLC Number: