Hu Shi

Hu Shi (1891-1962), also known by his nickname Simen and courtesy name (zi) Shizhi, was formerly named Hongxing. His ancestral home was Jixi, Anhui Province, but he was born in Shanghai. He was a well-known philosopher, literary historian, and writer. During his early years in Shanghai, Hu Shi studied in China Public School and was influenced by the New Learning (the western capitalist thoughts). He believed in the Theory of Evolution and worked as an editor for the newspaper The Struggle. In 1910, Hu Shi went to the United States and specialized in agriculture at Cornell University as well as literature, history, and philosophy at Columbia University successively. He studied under the famous pragmatist Dewey. He returned to China in July 1917 and became a professor at Peking University. He had been teaching here for several decades and served as the director of the Department of Chinese, the director of the Department of English, the dean of the Faculty of Arts, and the headmaster. He had taught courses like history of Chinese philosophy, history of Western philosophy, brief history of Chinese literature, intellectual history of Tang and Song dynasties, and so on. When he studied abroad, Hu Shi contributed articles to the New Youth, initiating the use of modern vernacular Chinese and advocating literary innovation. After returning home, he participated in the editorial work of the New Youth. He was opposed to Confucianism and feudal ethic morality, devoted to disseminate bourgeois democracy and freedom, and played an important role in the New Culture Movement. In 1922, Hu Shi shifted his focus from the New Youth to The Endeavor as one of the sponsors of this weekly newspaper. After the September 18th Incident, he founded the Independent Review magazine and actively advocated “Westernization”. In 1938, he worked as the ambassador to the United States for Nanjing National Government, and returned to the Executive Yuan (Department) and burdened the responsibility as the top political adviser in 1942. In 1946, he took up the post of the president of Peking University. In 1949, he immigrated to America, and later returned to Taiwan and took up some positions involving the dean of the Academia Sinica.

In his lifetime, Hu Shi was engaged in multiple pioneering disciplines, like literature, philosophy, and history, and he was one of the founders of modern Chinese culture. His works include Writings of Hu Shi, Outline of the History of Chinese Philosophy, History of Vernacular Literature, Collected Writings of Hu Shi, and Corpus of Hu Shi’s Works.

There is research literature on Hu Shi in "Peking University Library Digital Collections", and graphic and textual materials about him in "Renowned Professors of Peking University".