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The English Quarrel of 17-18th Centuries and China: Focus on Temple and Swift’s Writings on China

Cheng Guiming

The quarrel between Ancients and Moderns in 17-18th centuries of England has been commonly discussed from the western-centered perspective. The role that the East, especially China, played in this debate has always been neglected, but China actually stands as a significant evidence to prove the value of the ancient learning for Sir William Temple who started this quarrel in England. This paper attempts to compare Temple and his secretary Jonathan Swift’s writings on China, examine William Wotton’s response to Temple in this debate, to explore how Swift reflects upon Temple’s view by parodying his writings on China, and what is Swift’s deep concern about the intellectual history of 17-18th centuries hidden behind it.