Nirvana and Anarchy: the Doctrine of the “Five Negations” by Zhang Binglin

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Kazan (Volga region) Federal University
Address: Russian Federation, Kazan
Affiliation: Kazan (Volga region) Federal University
Address: Russian Federation, Kazan
Journal nameVoprosy filosofii
EditionIssue 8

The article anticipates the first Russian translation of the utopian doctrine by Zhang Binglin

(Zhang Taiyan, 1869–1936), expressed in the article Wu wu lun (On the Five Negations, 1907). Formally, this doctrine can be considered the most radical of utopias proposed by Chinese anarchists. For the liberation of mankind in the global perspective, Zhang Binglin envisaged the universal enlightenment of mankind (Bodhi), the attainment of Nirvana and the liquidation for the physical universe, subject of Karma. In this connection, N.M. Kalyuzhnaya and Kondo Kuniyasu considered this project as a kind of accident in the ideological heritage by Zhang. However, apparently, this view needs to be corrected. The doctrine by Zhang Binglin is internally consistent and directed against popular at the beginning of the 20th century in China theories of Evolutionism and Social Darwinism. Zhang Binglin realizing for the first time the duality of social changes that require the transformation of both objective reality and human subjectivity, offered the most radical way beyond the prevailing conditions, using the Yogachara Buddhism. Human beings are hostile not only to social institutions and cultural achievements (since weapons and murder are primarily developed), but even a sedentary way of life, since there is no equality in nature.


Keywordsutopia, anarchism, Buddhism, nirvana, the Qing dynasty, Zhang Binglin
Publication date03.10.2018
Number of characters1258
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1. Batkin, Leonid M. (1995) The Italian Renaissance. Problems and people, Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow (In Russian).

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3. Kondō Kuniyasu (1984) “Ichi nihonjin no me kara mita Shō Heirin no shisō [Thought of Zhang Binglin Viewed from the Standpoint of One Japanese]”, Tokyō daigaku shakaikagaku kenkyū, Vol. 35 (5), pp. 253–275 (in Japanese).

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5. Martynov, Dmitry E., Zainullin, Gabgulzyamil’ G. (2017) The idea of the Great Unity (Datong) in the history of Chinese social thought at the turn of the XIX–XX centuries and Kang Youwei, Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan, Kazan (In Russian).

6. Murthy, Viren (2011) The political philosophy of Zhang Taiyan: the resistance of consciousness, Brill, Leiden.

Additional sources and materials

Primary Sources 

Zhang Taiyan (1997) “Explaining the Republic of China”, Trans. by дr Cassel, The Stockholm Journal of East Asia Studies, Vol. 8 (1997), pp. 15–40.

Баопу-цзы web – Baopuzi, Chapter “Jie-bao”, Chinese Text Project, (in Chinese).

Чжан 2003 – Чжан Тай-янь цзиндянь вэньцуньХун Чжи-ган чжи бянь [Собрание статей по каноноведению Чжан Тай-яня / Сост. Хун Чжи-ган]. Шанхай: Шанхай дасюэ чубаньшэ, 2003 (Zhang, Taiyan, Hong Zhigang, ed. (2003) Zhang Taiyan jing dian wen cun, Shanghai daxue chubanshe, Shanghai, in Chinese). 

Чжан 2013 – Чжан Бинлинь. Избранные произведения (1894–1913). Пер. с кит., сост., введение Н.М. Калюжная. М.: Наука: Восточная литература, 2013 (Zhang, Binglin, Kalyuzhnaya, Nina M., tr. (2013) Zhang Binglin. Selected works (1894-1913), Nauka, Vostochnaya Literatura, Moscow, in Russian).

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