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Hist Psychol. 2019 May;22(2):216-217. doi: 10.1037/hop0000119.

Who first created the Chinese term for psychology-Xin Li Xue?

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1
Department of the History of Science.

Abstract

Shu-Chang Yan's (2018) recent article challenged the popular notion that the formal translation of psychology into Chinese-Xin Li Xue ()-was first made by the Japanese scholar Nishi Amane (1829-1897) in 1875 (Nishi, 1875; Zhao, 1983, 1991) when translating Joseph Haven's Mental Philosophy (see Haven, 1869; Howland, 2002; Koizumi, 1971). In the archive of Shanghai News, a popular newspaper in 19th- and 20th-century Shanghai (see Ye, 2017; Zhao & Zhang, 2004), Yan discovered that a Chinese intellectual with the penname of Zhi Quan Ju Shi () had already used Xin Li Xue as the name for psychology or mental philosophy on November 28, 1872- 3 years earlier than Nishi's book Haven's Psychology. The 1872 article was about the author's conversation with a Western missionary on the relation between science and the church in the West and a similar prospect in China- that is, that science was gaining the momentum to push aside religion. In the article, Zhi Quan Ju Shi designated some disciplines, including chemistry, astronomy, and psychology, with the same terms used in modern China. Yan thus argued that before Nishi's translation of psychology was widely accepted in China, Zhi Quan Ju Shi had already coined the same term and published it in mass media. Yan then continued to explore who used the penname of Zhi Quan Ju Shi in Shanghai News. Finally, Yan explained why Zhu's publication of the term did not have as profound an influence as Nishi's book. At the end of the 19th century, with the import of psychological knowledge, some Western missionaries and Chinese intellectuals translated the subject into other terms similar to Xin Li Xue, such as Xin Ling Xue () by C. W. Mateer in 1876 and Yongjing Yan in 1889 and Xin Xue () by Yan Fu in 1886 (see Wang, 2015; Zhao, 1983). They were all products of traditional Chinese culture encountering Western psychology. However, those terms were not widely accepted because the contributors were dictionary editors or newspaper journalists outside psychological institutions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

PMID:
31021122
DOI:
10.1037/hop0000119

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