The essavs collected in this volume. 'all originally wrirten in English for a non-Chinese audience, are taken from those writings of Fung Yu-lan that are relatively far-reaching and concise. As a whole. Fung's writings are the result of contact betveen Eastern and westem cultures and of the modernization of Chinese philosophY. He investigated philosophy in the light of all of its cultural manifestations, taking the problem of life as his focus. Along such a trend and under the guidance of Professor John Dewey, he completed his doctoral dissertation. "A Comparative Study of Life Ideals"at Columbia University in 1923 (published in 1924).The work presents the young author's achievements in his endeavour to have a thorough knowledge of both Western and Chinese philosophies and their life ideals and to pursue the highest ideal of life as he saw it.
After the publication of his two-volume A History of Chinese Philosophy ( t 930- t 936), Fung turned his interest to the attempt to create a modern system of Chinese philosophy, thereafter successively publishing six books about his Neo-Confucianism. Then he returned again to the study of the history of Chinese philosophy and wrote in English A Short History of Chinese Philosophy (1946-1947). The experience of creating his own philosophical system made him more penetrating in comprehension and more explicit in expression than he was when preparing his large history.In order to meet the need of Western readers, he often explained Chinese philosophy in comparison with Western philosophy. From this philosophical comparison he came to a social conclusion: "In order to live in a modern world, China has to be modernized." His Short History was published by Macmillan Company in 1948, followed by French, Italian and Yugoslavic,versions translated from the English original.