Friday, September 12, 2008

Lucian W. Pye R.I.P.

Even late in life Lucian Pye was a delightful raconteur and a shrewd observer of Asia. I well remember several very pleasant chats with him in and around Cambridge.

MIT professor Lucian W. Pye, leading China scholar, dies at 86 - MIT News Office: "met to discuss Asia-related research and policy. These included the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S.-China Relations Committee and the Asian Foundation.

'Lucian was a giant in the intellectual world that went well beyond our field of political science,' said Charles Stewart, head of MIT's Department of Political Science. 'For anyone ever called 'hero' or 'scholar' by Lucian, we must now live up to those titles he so cheerfully bestowed upon us.'

His dominant intellectual concern was to explore the cultural differences that help explain why the game of politics differs so greatly from one nation to another. Widely regarded as one of the foremost contemporary practitioners and proponents of the concept of political culture, Pye attempted to penetrate beneath the surface of political life to the deeper layers of attitude, value and sentiment that motivate political behavior.

The unique understanding that he brought to his studies of China, in particular, came in part out of his experience of growing up as a child of Congregational missionaries in Shansi Province, in northwest China. Born in 1921, he lived primarily in China until he went to Minnesota to attend Carleton College. There, Pye met fellow student Mary Toombs Waddill of Greenville, S.C., whom he married in 1945. She would become his partner"

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