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Shuming Liang Edit Profile

also known as Liang Huanding, Shouming

university professor , social reformer

Liang Shuming was a philosopher, teacher, and leader in the Rural Reconstruction Movement in the late Qing dynasty and early Republican eras of Chinese history.


Mr. Liang was native of Guilin, Guangxi, but born in Beijing on October 18, 1893. He was the son of a famous intellectual who committed suicide apparently in despair at the state of the Chinese nation.


Shu-ming Liang did intensive research work in Buddhism and philosophy. He taught philosophy in Peking University in 1917-1924.


Liang Shuming served as secretary in the Ministry of Justice of the Peking Government in 1917. He founded the Chaozhou High School in Guangdong, China, in 1924. He refused appointment as a member of the Guangdong Provincial Government, but accepted appointment as member and concurrently chairman of the Reconstruction Committee of the Guangzhou Branch of the Central Political Council in 1928.

Mr. Liang was also a principal of the Guangdong Provincial 1st Middle School in Guangzhou in 1929, founded the Institute of Local Self-Government in Henan and taught at the Institute during 1929-1930. He served as a chief editor of the Local Self-Government Monthly in Peking between 1929 and 1932. After the Henan Institute was closed, he was the head of the Research Department for the Shandong Institute of Rural Reconstruction in Zouping in 1931 and president, since 1933. He devoted himself to the cause of national self-salvation of China.


  • Mr. Liang established several educational institutions and also founded the Shandong Institute of Rural Reconstruction in Zouping. He was widely known as an important Chinese reformer.


At the age of 89 in an interview with Alitto, Mr. Liang proclaimed himself a Buddhist. He had been interested in Buddhism since his youth, which he often attributed to his feelings that many of the mistakes of the past had been made due to a focus on the external world for answers that come from within. In his article ‘’DOUBT’’, Liang Shuming expounded on the theory of ether in physics to maintain that much of the world is illusory and one must simply be conscious of this fact in order to see the world as it truly is and attain freedom.

Mr. Liang, like many intellectuals of the time was very critical of Chinese folk religion. He believed that it was too primitive to allow society to reach a high level of socialization, while at the same time promoting conservatism that impeded social development and promoted low moral standards and selfishness. He felt that Confucianism was China’s answer to religion as it provided a way to harmonize with the cosmos instead of being isolated from that which you worship.


Regarding Western civilization as doomed to eventual failure, Mr. Liang did not advocate complete reform and adoption of Western institutions. He nonetheless believed that reform was needed to make China equal to the rest of the world. It was his view that the required prerequisites for these institutions did not exist in China, so they would not succeed if introduced. Instead, he pushed for change to socialism starting at the grassroots level. To this end, Liang Shuming founded the Shandong Rural Reconstruction Institute and helped to found the China Democratic League.

Liang Shuming was famous for his critique of Marxist class theory, stating that, despite obvious disparities of wealth, Chinese rural society could not be unambiguously classified along class lines. One and the same family (particularly the large patriarchal lineages found in many regions) would commonly have some members among the "haves" and others among the "have-nots". The class struggle advocated by the Maoists would necessitate kinsmen attacking each other.