YI WANG and XIAOWEI FU Since Wang Guowei and Cai Yuanpei introduced the concepts of aesthetics and aesthetic education, respectively, to China in the early twentieth century, there has been a strong tendency in many of the aesthetic discussions to examine ancient texts and materials using modern concepts of aesthetics. In particular, sentences with the character-word mei1 are often sought in classical works and interpreted as speeches on or about beauty, which has led to frequent misunderstandings of the classical texts and of the ancient theory. The most typical among these misunderstandings, we think, is the misinterpretation of one of Mencius's remarks on the goodness of human nature--"To possess these qualities of goodness fully is beautiful" (Chongshi zhiwei mei)2--as a representative statement of the theory of "the union of the beautiful and good." Although it is not clear who was the first to put this interpretation forward, it is now widely accepted and almost unquestioned that the statement "Chongshi zhiwei mei" is the classical proposition of the theory after countless repetitions by aestheticians and educationalists. And extended from this is the claim that "the union of the beautiful and good," or the union of the moral and beauty,
The Journal of Aesthetic Education – University of Illinois Press
Published: Feb 14, 2008
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