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In the chapter "Ideals of Life" of My Country and My People, Lin Yutang writes (emphasis mine),

The Confucian conception of man's place in nature is that "Heaven, earth and man" are regarded as "the three geniuses of the universe". This is a distinction somewhat corresponding to the Babbittian threefold distinction of supernaturalism, humanism and naturalism.

The rest of the paragraph goes on discussing the Confucian view on man's place in the universe; Irving Babbitt is not mentioned anywhere else in the book.

It is not immediately obvious from Wikipedia's article on Irving Babbitt whether this distinction was expressed in a specific publication. The article Irving Babbitt and Lin Yutang (2014), which discusses Irving Babbitt's influence on Lin Yutang, is not helpful either. The article Philosophy 312: Oriental Philosophy Naturalism, Supernaturalism, and Humanism on Lander University's Eastern Philosophy website discusses naturalism, supernaturalism and humanism without mentioning Babbitt. So what exactly was Lin Yutang's source?

  • Possibly Babbitt's 1919 Rousseau and Romanticism, whose Chap IV uses these words a lot? – kimchi lover Feb 29 at 20:23
  • @kimchilover Thanks for the link. Last month, users from Germany were still blocked on Gutenberg (due to legal/copyright issues), so I hadn't seen that book yet. – Tsundoku Mar 1 at 19:16
  • Also available via the Internet Archive. – Gareth Rees Mar 2 at 18:30

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