Sun Yat-sen's interest in learning, whether Chinese or Western, was never purely academic. Rather it was, from the very beginning, deeply rooted in his central concern for changing China. There can be little doubt that Sun's early interest in Chinese classics and history was a genuine one because it remained with him until the end of his life. It has been suggested that because Sun "was trained in Western medicine and only semi-trained in the Chinese classics, he never became an insider among the upper-class literati." In order to find out what were the central ideas about the Chinese tradition that had gained currency in Sun's time, it is necessary to review, briefly, the intellectual history of China in the second half of the nineteenth century. Sun's understanding of other aspects of early Chinese culture also showed traces of K'ang's interpretations.