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Cài Yuánpéi (Chinese 蔡元培, Wade-Giles: Ts'ai Yüan-p'ei) (January 11, 1868 - March 5, 1940) was a Chinese educator and the chancellor of the Peking University, known for his critical evaluation of the Chinese culture that led to the influential May Fourth Movement.

Born in Shānyīn Village, Shaoxing Subprefecture, Zhejiang Province, Cai was appointed to the Hanlin Imperial Academy at 26. In 1898, he became involved in administering institutes and became:

  • Superintendent of Shaoxing Chinese-Western School (紹興中西學堂監督)
  • Head of Shèng District Shànshān College (嵊縣剡山書院院長)
  • Director-Teacher of the Special Class of Nanyang Public School (南洋公學特班總教習)

After studying philosophy, psychology, and art history in the Universität Leipzig of Germany in 1907, he became the provisional Republic's Minister of Education in January 1912, but later resigned during Yuan Shikai's presidency. He then return to Germany, and then went to France.

Cai returned to China in 1916 to became the Chancellor of Peking University the next year. In 1918 he opened the first psychology laboratory in China It was during his tenure at Peking University that he recruited such famous thinkers (and future CCP leaders) to the school as Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao. In 1927, he co-founded the National College of Music, which later became the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In April 1928, he became the first president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Cai proposed the equal importance of five ways of life -- "Virtue, Wisdom, Health, Collective, and Beauty" (德、智、體、群、美) -- that are still learned as a slogan today in Taiwan. He was also an opponent of foot binding and concubinage, as well as being a proponent of women's right to divorce and remarriage.

Cai Yuanpei died at the age of 76 in Hong Kong.

Bibliography Edit

  • Cai Jianguo. Cai Yuanpei: Gelehrter und Mittler zwischen Ost und West. Deutsch von Hans Christian Stichler. Münster [u.a.]: Lit 1998.
  • Wang Peili. Wilhelm von Humboldt und Cai Yuanpei: eine vergleichende Analyse zweier klassischer Bildungskonzepte in der deutschen Aufklärung und in der ersten chinesischen Republik. Münster; New York: Waxmann Yuanpei


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