African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 187


May Fourth: Historical misunderstanding?

Alberto Castelli
Xiamen University, Xiamen, China.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Received: 07 May 2015
  •  Accepted: 09 June 2015
  •  Published: 30 November 2015


While China is looking up at the Western scientific achievements, seeing in it the way through independence, the European intelligentsia to the pretentious positivist understanding of the world answered declaring the bankrupt of the Western civilization. It is true that the technological progress of the last century surpassed the achievements of three thousand years prior this period, but science brought catastrophes. Cities and souls in ruins are what remain of the scientific revolution. However the May Fourth movement seems not to be aware of the European collapse as to say that their understanding of the Western civilization is based on an historical misunderstanding. One therefore wonders whether we would have had May Fourth without such a misunderstanding. If China had known that Europe itself did not believe anymore in her historical background, would China have brandished it anyway as example of a new era?


Key words: May Fourth Movement, positivism, modernism, iconoclasm, crisis of reason