National Taiwan University (NTU) yesterday paid tribute to the late philosophy professor Yin Hai-kuong (殷海光) — who is considered a pioneer of liberalism in Taiwan, but was punished by the former authoritarian Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime and the university due to his harsh criticism of the government at the time — by releasing a 21-volume collection of his works.
“This is quite an emotional moment as NTU is officially launching a collection of the complete works of Yin Hai-kuang, because he was banned from teaching at NTU, and his book The Future of Chinese Culture (中國文化的展望) was also banned 40 years ago,” Lin Cheng-hung (林正弘), chief editor of the collection and a personal friend of Yin, said at an event to launch the books at the NTU campus yesterday afternoon, adding that it restored Yin’s honor because NTU had not only published a collection of his works, but also designated Yin’s residence an historic building a few years ago.
Born in China’s Hubei Province in 1919, Yin was a philosopher and a follower of liberalism.
At first a passionate supporter of the KMT government and then-president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), he became critical of the regime as he discovered more about the regime when working as a journalist from 1946 to 1949.
After 1949, Yin taught philosophy at NTU while publishing articles critical of the KMT regime in opposition magazines such as Free China and supporting the creation of opposition parties.
His criticism of the government eventually led to the banning of his book The Future of Chinese Culture in the 1960s, which was followed by the termination of his teaching contract with NTU due to pressure from the government.
Until his death in 1969, Yin was kept under close surveillance by the secret service.
NTU vice president Pao Tsung-ho (包宗和) said that with so many NTU academics editing the books, the publication of the collection could be seen as a way for NTU to apologize to Yin for how he was treated decades ago.
“At the time, he was already a well respected academic and he could have stayed outside of politics, but he chose to bravely -challenge the authoritarian rulers,” Pao said. “On behalf of the university, I would like to express our highest admiration for Mr Yin.”
Ko Ching-ming (柯慶明), a professor at NTU’s department of Chinese literature and a former student of Yin, said that NTU would launch a series of lectures on Yin’s academic achievements, ideas and works.
“I was very fortunate to have been able to take professor Yin’s classes, and his teachings still have a great impact on me today,” Ko said. “His teachings should be passed on.”