Inquiries into the Sociology of Modern Confucianism

4:00 pm – 5:45 pm

  • Organised by Ady Van den Stock
  • Ady Van den Stock, Chair
  • Ady Van den Stock, “Once More unto the Breach: The Transcendental Distinction between the Phenomenal and the Noumenal in the Philosophy of Mou Zongsan and the ‘Continental Divide’ in Contemporary New Confucian Philosophy”
  • Ralph Weber, “A Sociological Reading of Tu Weiming’s Philosophical Discussion of ‘Multiple Modernities’”
  • Philippe Major, “A Doxa in the Making: A Bourdieusian Reading of the New Confucian Manifesto”

The majority of studies produced with the context of the relatively recent growth of interest in modern Confucianism (also known as “New Confucianism”) have adopted either historical or philosophical perspectives. While such studies have greatly improved our understanding of modern Confucianism, they have tended to downplay or neglect aspects of modern Confucianism that are not straightforwardly philosophical or historical. Few scholars have highlighted the social context as an important factor bearing its mark on modern Confucian philosophical production, for example, and rather few have been attempts at drawing from the methodology of the sociology of philosophy in doing so. This gap in the field is particularly hard to justify, as one of the central concerns shared by intellectuals retrospectively classified under the banner of “New Confucianism” has been that of finding an institutional space for Confucianism within radically new social conditions, and particularly within a university system shaped around a European model of knowledge classification.
The present panel draws from the literature on the sociology of philosophy and the sociology of knowledge in order to rethink modern Confucianism as a loose association of intellectuals inscribed in shifting social conditions and highly concerned with the necessity to create or protect a space for themselves and their version of Confucianism within modern institutions such as the university, as well as against competing groups (such as representatives of scientism, historicism, Marxism, etc.) and alternative conceptions of what authentic Confucianism is.

Ady Van den Stock, “Once More unto the Breach: The Transcendental Distinction between the Phenomenal and the Noumenal in the Philosophy of Mou Zongsan and the ‘Continental Divide’ in Contemporary New Confucian Philosophy”

Mou Zongsan’s (1909–1995) (in)famous engagement with Kantian transcendentalism as a means for reasserting the normative and philosophical validity of the Confucian tradition seems to have largely fallen into disrepute, most notably among the majority of Confucian revivalists in mainland China. The latter generally seem to be comfortable condemning Mou’s audacious combination of Kant and Confucius to the dustbins of history. The relentless iconoclasm displayed by the most vocal representatives of the Confucian movement in contemporary mainland China arguably prevents them from contextualising Mou’s thought within the broader historical trajectory of modern Chinese thought. As such, in rejecting the possibility of any form of affinity between transcendental philosophy and Confucianism, some of the basic questions which are still worthy of our consideration remain unanswered: what was Mou actually trying to accomplish in reconfiguring Kant’s distinction between phenomena and “things in themselves” and in reaffirming the possibility of intellectual intuition within Chinese traditions of philosophy? Why did he insist on portraying this distinction as overlapping with that between “fact” and “value”? And why do contemporary mainland Chinese critics who claim to depart from a supposedly more authentic Confucian position find this basic epistemological and ontological divide within reality so hard to stomach?

Ralph Weber, “A Sociological Reading of Tu Weiming’s Philosophical Discussion of ‘Multiple Modernities’”

For many Confucians, modernity has stood as the central challenge for more than 100 years. Tu Weiming has shown great ability to present Confucianism to a global audience by drawing on the sociological vocabulary of his day (Talcott Parsons, Benjamin Nelson, Shmuel Eisenstadt, etc.), but never quite confining his study of Confucianism to sociology. Instead, as this paper will argue, his discussion of ‘multiple modernities’ has a clearly normative bias. It is a philosophical discussion.
Somewhat counterintuitively, I will make this point by offering a sociological reading of how Tu Weiming came to align with Eisenstadt’s macro-sociological version of ‘multiple modernities’, on the one hand, while deviating from it in important ways. Methodologically, I will follow Thomas Brisson’s recent sociological writings on Tu Weiming but object with regard to one major claim that he advances. Brisson sees Tu Weiming as a “postcolonial thinker”. My sociological reading of Tu Weiming’s philosophical discussion of ‘multiple modernities’ will show that Tu is anything but a postcolonial thinker. His reliance on macro-sociology makes him more an advocate of cultural diversity than of the kind of cultural difference propagated by postcolonial. To this end, I will analyse two debates between Tu and Homi Bhabha held in Beijing and in Harvard respectively in 2010.

Philippe Major, “A Doxa in the Making: A Bourdieusian Reading of the New Confucian Manifesto”

Most studies of the New Confucian Manifesto (Wei Zhongguo wenhua jinggao shijie renshi xuanyan 為中國文化敬告世界人士宣言; 1958) have thus far approached it as a philosophical treatise and/or as a historical document marking the beginning of the formation of a group conscious of itself as an association of modern Confucian intellectuals. While the present contribution situates itself in the latter, historical approach, it aims at presenting the Manifesto as a concerted effort, on the part of its cosignatories, of producing a school around a number of fundamental ideas they shared.
Drawing from Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology of philosophical knowledge, I argue that the Manifesto can be read as an attempt to set the rules of inclusion—what is known as the doxa in Bourdieu’s terminology—into the school that was retrospectively named “New Confucianism.” While in an established field, the doxa refers to a number of implicit rules or “presuppositions whose acceptance is implied in membership itself,” the fact that the cosignatories of the Manifesto felt that the rules of their field should be clearly spelt out in writing implies, I suggest, that their school was in the making, and was not yet recognised, in the philosophical field, as an established school with a set doxa. A significant element of the Manifesto, I maintain, is its attempt at introducing the readers in what Bourdieu calls the illusion of the field, by asking of them that they perform of leap of faith.

Papers on Philosophy IV

2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Room 5

  • Chaired by Bart Dessein
  • Xinyu Wang, “The Odes of Qin and Zhu Xi’s Conception of History”
  • Alexandra Fialkovskaya, “Meeting of Languages and Minds: Problems and Specifics of the Translation of the Terminology of Jungian Psychology into Chinese”
  • Patrycja Pendraskowa, “The Reception of Hegel in China: Key Aspects and Challenges”

Xinyu Wang, “The Odes of Qin and Zhu Xi’s Conception of History”

As one of the most significant theorists in traditional China, Zhu Xi was renowned for his philosophical thinking. Zhu Xi’s conception of history, however, was only implied but had a considerable presence in his various works. In his annotation of the Book of Odes, Zhu Xi used his understanding of historical figures and incidents, especially for the portion of Ballads from the States (guofeng 國風). As for Qin (221 BC–207 BC), which is a controversial dynasty in Chinese history, several of its typical features could also be found in the poems, and Zhu Xi’s interpretation must be considered a splendid monument in terms of its extensive explanatory work. Following the thread of his thought allows us to excavate his conception of history, such as the roles ‘Principle’ and ‘Tendency’ in history, or rectifying customs. These ideas showed a new attitude to the Qin Dynasty as well, which had a great influence on Chinese historical and philosophical studies in later generations.

Alexandra Fialkovskaya, “Meeting of Languages and Minds: Problems and Specifics of the Translation of the Terminology of Jungian Psychology into Chinese”

The problem of translation of terminology is a question that always becomes valid when one speaks about the transfer of knowledge. When it comes to Western psychology being transferred to China, it is obvious that the problem of the translation of the basic terms is one of the first to be solved. Since the field of Jungian psychology in China is still rather new, some problems relating to the translation of the “new” terms appear.
Firstly, the majority of translations of works by Jung and about Jung are done from English translations, not from original works in German. This means that if the English translation is inadequate, the Chinese translation will most likely also be incorrect. The second problem that appears is the translation variations between the Mainland and Taiwan. Finally, the absence of standardised terminology in Chinese works on Jungian psychology makes researchers spend more time on actual interpretations of the terms and can sometimes lead to confusion in interpretations of what the authors wanted to say.
This paper intends to study two questions. The first question is what are the current strategies of translating Jungian terms into Chinese? The second question is what the goals of these strategies might be? Do these translation strategies aim at showing that Jungian terminology is alien to Chinese culture or do they try to incorporate the foreign terminology into the traditional Chinese views on psychology?
Hopefully, the intended research will outline which translation strategy(-ies) might be optimal for this particular field.

Patrycja Pendraskowa, “The Reception of Hegel in China: Key Aspects and Challenges”

Hegel has been regarded as one of the most influential Western philosophers after 1949 in China. The aim of this presentation is to analyse how Hegel’s reception in China developed after the founding of the PRC and what were the most crucial factors shaping the research on Hegel. Key research questions of this presentation are related to the following aspects: How the Chinese Communist Party influenced the reading of Hegel since 1949? How to treat books written by Chinese philosophers on Hegel, that are actually a manifesto of dialectical materialism and Marxism-Leninism?
The answer will be given based on the analysis of the works on Hegel written by four generations of Hegel scholars. Firstly, He Lin 贺麟, Wang Jiuxing 王玖兴. Secondly, Ru Xin 汝信 and Wang Shuren 王树人. Thirdly, from the generation born in the 1950s and 1960s including Zhang Rulun 张汝伦 and Deng Anqing 邓安庆 and the youngest generation, who researches Hegel at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and the Beijing University. It is important to notice, that 1978 became a symbolic date for the reception of Hegel. Between 1949-1978 Hegel was mostly read through the Lenin/Marx/dialectical materialism lense. After 1978 new narrations on Hegel emerged, i.e. Zhang Shiying’s works that combine Neoconfucianism with the Phenomenology of Spirit. In the book, 天人之际:中西哲学的困惑与选择, Zhang Shiying offers an interesting comparative perspective on the relations between subject and object, and the reading of Hegel’s subjectivity (zhutixing 主体性).

Papers on Philosophy III

11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room 5

  • Chaired by Dinu Luca
  • Antoaneta Nikolova, “Naming the Changeability”
  • Richard J. Sage, “Concepts of ‘Time’ and ‘Change’ in the Liezi
  • Yuhan Gao, “The Unification of ‘Wu wei zhi li (The Force of Inexertion)’ and ‘Zi er zhi li (The Force of Nature).’ A Study of the Dao-Thing Relationship in Jiang Zhou yishu lun jiayi ji 講周易疏論家義記”
  • Dinu Luca, “Ghosts of Sinology Past: On Abel-Rémusat’s Laozi

Antoaneta Nikolova, “Naming the Changeability”

The aim of the paper is to debate the Daoist “philosophy of language.” It is based on the presumption that Chinese philosophy and especially Daoism is a philosophy of dynamism that regards the world as changeable, variable, volatile, and fluid. Therefore, one of the important questions of this philosophy is the question of name and naming. How naming, which is a kind of fixation, could grasp the fluidity of reality? In order to understand the Daoist vision of naming and the way in which daoists resolved the issue of naming the changeability, I discuss the concepts of dao and ming and their relation in the opening paragraph of Daodejing. I argue that its usual interpretation in terms that are close to the ideas of apophatism needs revision.

Richard J. Sage, “Concepts of ‘Time’ and ‘Change’ in the Liezi

Specific concepts of “time” and its immediate derivatives are neither independently, nor in fact explicitly, discussed within the Liezi. Instead, they are always embedded in overarching clusters of key themes that dominate the entire work. The most important of these are: (1) the Liezi’s general idea of cosmogony, cosmology and evolution; (2) the omnipresent notion of “change;” and (3) the lifetime and fate of each individual being that is subject to the former concept clusters.
In this paper, I will discuss “time” on the background of these three themes and demonstrate how, for the Liezi, only the absolute timelessness that predates any existence constitutes an unchanging concept that pertains the realms of non-being as well as, albeit only latently, that of being.
Apart from this meontological principle, however, the attributes connected with “time” are subject to the same “change” that dominates every other existing and pre-existing entity mentioned in the Liezi.
Using a simplified model, one can say that each of the three major layers of existence that are discussed in the work—namely “pre-existence,” “cosmic existence,” and a being’s individual life—are characterised not only by a different notion but also a different movement of “time.”
According to the Liezi, the ultimate goal for the adept who fathomed these notions and their interconnection with the concept of “change,” is to gradually conquer this model by countering the specific movements associated with each layer of existence and thereby leave any concept of “time” behind.

Yuhan Gao, “The Unification of ‘Wu wei zhi li (The Force of Inexertion)’ and ‘Zi er zhi li (The Force of Nature)’. A Study of the Dao-Thing Relationship in Jiang Zhou yishu lun jiayi ji 講周易疏論家義記”

This article intends to define the text Jiang Zhou yishu lun jiayi ji 講周易疏論家義記 (The original text is preserved in Nara, Japan and has been emended by some Chinese scholars in recent years) as a successor of the neo-daoistic Xuanxue-tradition of Wang Bi and Guo Xiang and a transitional work among the exegeses in the period of the Six Dynasties by analysing its summary and transcendence of the metaphysical discussion of the Dao-Thing relationship in Wei-Jin Xuanxue, and examining its affinity with the ‘School of Double Mystery’ 重玄學, which matured later as a new tradition of daoistic exegeses in the early Tang Dynasty. Jiang Zhou Yi Shu Lun Jia Yi Ji has not only inherited from Xuanxue the problem consciousness of defining ‘Dao’ as the original basis of ‘the ten thousand things’ 萬物 and harmonising the tension between this creative force of ‘Dao’ and the nature and the ‘self-genesis’ 自生 of the things, but also introduced the methods of argument of the ‘School of Double Mystery,’ for example, the “double-elimination” 雙遣 and the “triple-procedure” 三番, and finally come to a conclusion close to the central proposition, namely “Nature is the basis, and Dao is only its trace” (自然為本,道為跡) of Cheng Xuanying, the central figure of the ‘School of Double Mystery.’

Dinu Luca, “Ghosts of Sinology Past: On Abel-Rémusat’s Laozi

The role played by Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat (1788–1832) in shaping the views of his contemporaries on things Chinese is well known. Humboldt, Hegel, Schelling, and Victor Cousin, inter alia, make (extended) reference to his work, with Hegel, for instance, building his famous paragraphs on Chinese philosophy and religion on Abel-Rémusat’s 1824 Mémoire sur la vie et les opinions de Lao-Tseu. While frequently invoked in many recent discussions about sinology, philosophy, and comparative studies, this particular text remains quite understudied. Apart from several articles and dissertations typically focusing on the more extravagant points in the Mémoire, scholarship seems to engage in little direct work on a piece that “strangely dreamed into being” (Léon Rosny) Europe’s first “ghostly” Laozi (Cousin).
My contribution approaches the Mémoire from several different perspectives. First, by placing the text against Abel-Rémusat’s larger oeuvre and its context, I show how it shaped early European sinology in dialogue with the major intellectual developments of the time. Next, by concentrating on Rémusat’s reading strategies of the Daodejing and discussing the ways in which he used both primary and secondary texts, I tease out the specificity of what he himself calls his “doubly insufficient” translation. Lastly, I place this effort at “historical comparison” against Stanislas Julien’s 1842 renowned version of the same Laozi, sketching the main features of a philosophical/philological “parricide” that, with different names and under different guises, still informs perhaps much of what remains at stake regarding the role and meaning of translation today.

The Genre of Historical Disquisition (shilun 史論)

From the Early Medieval Period to the Song Dynasty
9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room 5

  • Organised by Béatrice L’Haridon
  • Béatrice L’Haridon, Chair
  • Béatrice L’Haridon, “Fan Ye’s Disquisitions and the Task of Discovering the Reason at Play in the Fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty”
  • Sebastian Eicher, “Judgements of the Fall of the Later Han Dynasty in the Disquisitions (lun 論) and Appraisals Found in Later Han Historiography”
  • Bingwei Jia, “Song Scholars’ Conception of Historical Evolution as Seen through the Fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty: A Study of Han lun 漢論 of the Northern Song Dynasty”

From Jia Yi’s 賈誼 (c. 200–168 BC) Guo Qin lun 過秦論 (Disquisition finding fault with Qin), which was integrated in Sima Qian’s Shiji 史記 as the conclusion to the Basic Annals of Qin Shihuang, the genre of historical disquisition had a strong relationship with standard historiography, being potentially written and read as a synthetic lesson drawn from the preceding historical narrative or as an independent essay. These disquisitions are centred on historical figures, institutions or historical transformations. This panel aims to study the historical disquisition as a genre, and how it develops on the basis of or in the frame of historiography, from the early medieval period, which was a time of experimentation with this genre, to the Song dynasty, which saw a blossoming of the historical disquisitions. In order to highlight the importance of the disquisitions as a place for historical and philosophical reflection, we will focus on the theme of the institutions of the Eastern Han dynasty, their evolution, and ultimate failure, as it was dealt with by different authors of disquisitions.

Béatrice L’Haridon, Fan Ye’s Disquisitions and the Task of Discovering the Reason at Play in the Fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty

In Fan Ye’s 范曄 (398–445) letter to his nephews, which expresses his vision of himself as a historian,  the narrative account (zhushu 著述) and the critical disquisition (pinglun 評論) are clearly distinguished. Fan Ye puts special emphasis on the latter: When criticising Ban Gu’s 班固 (32–92) work, he sets apart his predecessor’s houzan 後贊 (Ban Gu’s term for disquisitions), with which he is particularly dissatisfied. On the contrary, he has some emphatic words for his own disquisitions. Following Fan Ye’s development and renewal of this rich and complex historiographical paratext, it soon became the object of specific interest, as it appears clearly through the inclusion in the Wenxuan of a relatively important number of Fan Ye’s disquisitions, and also through the edition of separate Disquisitions and Eulogies. In my presentation, I will analyse a few specific disquisitions through which Fan Ye reveals his conception of the historical disquisition as a place to discover the reason at play (li 理) in the historical process (especially in the conclusion to chapter 39/49 on the “essayists” Wang Chong 王充, Wang Fu 王符 and Zhongchang Tong 仲長統 and his vision of the degradation of the institutions of the Eastern Han dynasty (as developed in the conclusions to collective biographical chapters as Kuli liezhuan 酷吏列傳 or Huanzhe liezhuan 宦者列傳).

Sebastian Eicher, “Judgements of the Fall of the Later Han Dynasty in the Disquisitions (lun 論) and Appraisals Found in Later Han Historiography

Historical judgement was an important part of Chinese historiography, whether implicit or explicit. With the emergence of the annals-biography-style (liezhuan 列傳) it became customary for historians to add a short appraisal after every chapter, in which they expressed their opinion in usually tetrasyllabic verses. The many works of history that were compiled about the Later Han (25–220) dynasty in the centuries after its fall diverged from this pattern. Parallel to the rising importance of the genre of Disquisitions, the historians started to not only write appraisals (named variously as zan 贊, xu 序, quan 詮, ping 評, or yi 議), but often also added Disquisitions (lun) to their works of history. Depending on the author, not only the content of these judgements varied widely, but also their form and style. This paper will look at the surviving Disquisitions and Appraisals of the second century of the Later Han that are found in the Hou Han shu 後漢書, the Hou Han ji 後漢紀, the Sanguo zhi 三國志 and the recompiled fragments of the Dongguan Han ji 東觀漢紀 and Bajia Hou Han shu 八家後漢書. It will look at the way the historians expressed their opinions and consider the function and relationship of Disquisitions and Appraisals.

Bingwei Jia, “Song Scholars’ Conception of Historical Evolution as Seen Through the Fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty: a Study of  Han lun 漢論 of the Northern Song Dynasty

The Song dynasty saw a full development of the genre “historical disquisition” (lun) in terms of its form, its literary richness and the historical consideration contained in it. The majority of the numerous disquisitions written during the Song period are constituted by individual essays rather than commentaries figuring after a historical narrative. The Han dynasty was a major subject for Song historical thinkers whose interest in the Han had been stimulated by the revision and the printing of Shiji 史記, Han shu 漢書and Hou Han shu 後漢書that started in 994. Scholars began to systematise their reflection on the Han dynasty by writing disquisitions which are often entitled “Han lun” (漢論). In this paper, I will analyse several historical disquisitions on the Han dynasty contained in the Quan Song Wen 全宋文. Their authors include such great promoters of ancient style writing as Shi Jie 石介 (1005–1045) as well as famous scholars such as Su Shi 蘇軾 (1037–1101) and Su Zhe 蘇轍 (1039–1112). I will analyse how these authors used historical disquisition as a means to reflect on the art and politics of governance as well as the historical evolution in general by commenting on the fall of the Eastern Han dynasty. The authors addressed two main questions: the causes of the fall of the Eastern Han and the place of the Han dynasty in the transmission of the kingly way (Wangdao 王道).

Papers on Philosophy VI

11:00 am – 12:45 pm

  • Chaired by Yumi Suzuki
  • Margus Ott, “Extended Knowledge in the Analects, Mozi, and Zhuangzi
  • Yumi Suzuki, “Environmental Philosophy in Early Confucianism”
  • Xing Lan, “No Fear from Heaven: Revisiting the 11th-Century Chinese Debate on Five Phases Theory in the Interpretation of Portents”

Margus Ott, “Extended Knowledge in the Analects, Mozi, and Zhuangzi

One prominent idea in embodied epistemology is that knowledge is not generated or processed by the brain or even by one’s body only, but extends to things and beings in the environment. In contemporary philosophical discussions of embodied epistemology, some common examples of extended knowledge include technical devices such as hammers, cars and computers. However, ritual objects are not often discussed. I investigate three examples of extendedness in early Chinese philosophy: (1) Ritual items in the Analects (e.g. jade tablet, zither); (2) the Mozi’s technical devices (compass, square, ink-line, water-line, plumb-line); and (3) objects in the Zhuangzi’s self-cultivation stories (ox’s carcass, wood, water). In the Analects, ritual items are contextualized in embodied thinking processes. By contrast, the Mozi’s discussions of technical devices are set against themes of decontextualization and disembodiment. Finally, the Zhuangzi’s self-cultivation objects have a practical purpose, like those in the Mozi. However, in the Zhuangzi’s stories, the themes of contextualised and embodied knowledge are even more prominent. The embodied processes undertaken by the Zhuangzi’s masters generate a new, contextualised knowledge, through the decentering and transformation of self.

Yumi Suzuki, “Environmental Philosophy in Early Confucianism”

Unlike Daoism whose ideal way of life is generally thought to be compatible with contemporary environmental ethics, early Confucianism is often thought to have never regarded the natural environment as an important subject. Both Kongzi’s agnostic attitude towards heavenly events (Lunyu 5/13, 11/12) and Xunzi’s accounts of hierarchic relations between humans, animals, and plants (Xunzi 9/39/9-10) typically represent their limited focusses on social and political affairs. Nevertheless, strong interests in human nature (xìng 性) found in the Mengzi and the Xunzi indicates that both Confucian moral values such as rén 仁 and 義 and ideal political institutes are natural creations inevitable and indispensable for human flourishment. This paper, therefore, demonstrates that Xunzi’s political philosophy deeply originates with his keen discernment of heavenly nature (tiān 天). Xunzi maintains that yāo 妖 (ominous events) such as famine and diseases as caused by political deficiency, but not by natural or supernatural forces (17/81/10-82/4) and that the virtue ( 德) of the ruler lies in his ‘ecological responsibilities’ of properly responding to natural revolutions to succeed in various domestic enterprises completed at proper times and effectively coping with the natural crises (17/79/16-21) as well as satisfying and regulating the nature of its people since humans intrinsically do not differ from other animals (23/113/3 ff.). I suggest that his attempt is not to integrate nature into his anthropocentric political system but on the contrary to align the political system with its own natural state and surroundings, thus rather can be nature-centred.

Xing Lan, “No Fear from Heaven: Revisiting the 11th-Century Chinese Debate on Five Phases Theory in the Interpretation of Portents”

This study discusses why and how Confucian thinkers in the 11th-century criticised the application of the Five Phases theory to explain portents.
In China, portents have been interpreted within the framework of the Five Phases since the 1st century. This portent interpretation has been analysed from different angles. Some studies have shed light on the formation of this tradition during the Han Dynasty (Sivin 1995, Espesset 2016) but very few studies engage in the alterations and challenges which convey essential changes in Chinese intellectual history.
To fill in this gap, this paper focuses on the Chinese scholarly discussion about separating the Five Phases from the interpretation of portents in the 11th century. This discussion involved numerous famous scholars like Wang Anshi, Ouyang Xiu, and Su Shi and was also largely advanced through the reformation of Wang Anshi.
My paper is to argue that both intellectuals and officials in the 11th century were dissatisfied with the application of the Five Phases in interpreting portents, but invalidating it was difficult because it was established in Han’s commentaries on the Confucian classics. Instead of challenging the authority of Confucius, they also reflected ideas in the form of commentary to remove the application of the Five Phases.
In my paper, I will distinguish three different strategies of argumentation within this historical debate: denying the authenticity of chapters about the Five Phases in the Confucian classics, refusing Han scholars’ interpretation about the Five Phases, and revealing contradictions in received principles of the Five Phases.

Papers on Philosophy II

Medieval to Ming
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm

  • Chaired by Olga Bonch-Osmolovskaia
  • Olga Bonch-Osmolovskaia, “Classical Scholarship in the Three Kingdoms Period: Exegetical Methods and Commentarial Types”
  • Immanuel Spaar, “Confucian Education under the Influence of Wang Shouren: Cultivation of the Elite and Instruction of the Populace”
  • Nikolai Rudenko, “Allusions in Chinese Philosophical Texts: Problems of Detection Method and Interpretation”

Olga Bonch-Osmolovskaia, “Classical Scholarship in the Three Kingdoms Period: Exegetical Methods and Commentarial Types”

The objective of this paper is to analyse the process of the development of Early Medieval Confucian commentary as one of the most important forms of the existence of exegetical tradition and to identify the basic laws and generalising factors of its dynamic development. The historical scope of the study is confined mainly to the Three Kingdoms period since it was in precisely this time that after the fall of Han dynasty Confucian exegetics had undergone serious structural and ideological changes, as well as the emergence (or rise of popularity) of new types of commentary and shaping of new scholarly and intellectual ideals, which to a large extent determined the course of exegetical thought development in subsequent eras, took place. The paper is based on detailed analysis of commentarial works themselves (when not survived, then reconstructed, mentioned, or cited in other historical sources) and accounts from official dynastic histories, especially their biographical and bibliographical chapters. This material allows to identify particular characteristics of each commentarial type frequently used by medieval exegetes (for example, nan 難, bo 駁, wen 問, ping 評, yin 音, lun 論, yi 議, zhu 注, jie 解, etc.), systematically analyse and compare them, correlate their functions, popularity/unpopularity with the changing trends in Confucian exegetical thought, and, therefore, identify the main factors of its development.

Immanuel Spaar, “Confucian Education under the Influence of Wang Shouren: Cultivation of the Elite and Instruction of the Populace”

Educational matters were formally monopolised in the early Ming dynasty (1368–1644), when the court established community schools and defined an educational common ground. But soon the influence of the court on what in modern terms is understood as education diminished. One attempt to gradually popularise a Confucian understanding of learning and education has started with Wang Shouren (1472–1528). Despite his disagreement with official interpretations of key passages in the Confucian canon, what Wang practised was still deeply informed by Confucian ideas gleaned from the canonised writings. My presentation uses Wang Shouren’s dispatchment to Jiangxi between 1517 and 1521 as a perspective on educational policies that were implemented by the scholarly elite. It will work out a focused theoretical background regarding teaching and learning concepts from the Confucian canon. This leads to a judgement of Wang Shouren’s legacy in Jiangxi in terms of educational measures. The solutions he proposed were a reaction to local politics. They combined Confucian-educational ideas with administrative-political reality. I will rely on source texts from the complete works of Wang Shouren in order to present his communication to officials and to ordinary households. After Wang’s death, people from Jiangxi were decisive in forming new learning curriculums. They gradually took over educational matters formerly belonging to the central court of the Ming. Therefore, despite intellectual discussions and factional strife, I tend to see Wang and his school in a larger developmental process of the late Ming, with potential inclination to the education of commoners.

Nikolai Rudenko, “Allusions in Chinese Philosophical Texts: Problems of Detection Method and Interpretation”

One of the most difficult but crucially important operations a researcher needs to carry out during the translation of Chinese philosophical texts is the detection and correct interpretation of allusions and references to other texts—mostly to philosophical and historical Classics and famous poetry. In particular, the essays of A Book to Burn (Fen shu 焚書), the opus magnum of late Ming thinker Li Zhi (李贄, 1527–1602), are flooded with different kinds of allusions, dealing with which inevitably becomes an issue of vital importance to any researcher who tries to reconstruct its core philosophical ideas.
On the basis of my previous research of A Book to Burn I would like to share my experience concerning the stated problem and overview the main instruments for detecting allusions I use as well as to offer a draft typology of allusions based on their function (e.g. appellation to authority, implicit irony, and critique, increase of expressiveness, construction of multi-level philosophical concepts etc.). During the presentation, several cases of these allusions’ detection and interpretation will also be demonstrated. The presented method has already shown relatively high efficiency: for example, in Li Zhi’s autobiographical essay An Outline of Zhuowu in [the Form of] Discourse (Zhuowu lun lüe 卓吾論略) 19 allusions have been detected, while infamous previous translations of this essay into English (Pauline C. Lee), German (Ph. Grimberg), French (J.F. Billeter) and Modern Chinese (Zhang Jianye) together only 6 of them were discovered.

Papers on Philosophy V

Modern and Contemporary
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room 5

  • Chaired by Ady Van Den Stock
  • Lucien Monson, “Tan Sitong and Philosophical Modernity in China”
  • Katerina Gajdosova, “Names (ming 名) from the Perspective of Onto-Hermeneutics: Reconciling Cheng Chung-ying and Heidegger on the Problem of Language”
  • Antje Ehrhardt, “Mou Zongsan’s (1909–1995) Philosophical Language: Analysing his Concept of ‘Reality’ (shiti 实体)”
  • Christian Soffel, “Cultural Nationalism and Chinese Exceptionalism: Contemporary Chinese Confucians Discussing ‘Universal Values’”

Lucien Monson, “Tan Sitong and Philosophical Modernity in China”

Tan Sitong’s 谭嗣同 (1865–1898) Renxue 仁学 (An Exposition of Ren) is often regarded as one of the earliest works of modern Chinese philosophy. But how do we understand its modernity? When reading a work of modern philosophy, those trained in the history of Western thought might expect to be gratified with developed arguments that establish knowledge on the foundations of universal reason in lieu of appeals to tradition. We might also expect some formulation of rational subjectivity familiar to modern thought in the West. Disappointed scholars have responded to Tan’s work with accusations of immaturity and superficiality. Yet we should remember that these familiar hallmarks of modernity arose against the background of the specific crisis that European intellectuals faced during the 16th and 17th centuries. Approaching Tan’s text with these expectations results in misunderstanding. I argue that while Tan is ambivalent towards much of traditional thought, the philosophical crisis faced by Tan and his contemporaries was primarily a politico-ethical one, not an epistemic one. Therefore, values such as autonomy, freedom of thought, and democracy emerge not as the prerogatives of rational subjectivity but out of the interconnection of all things through ren 仁. Moreover, by observing the way ren is employed as a strategy to navigate the competing world-views of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Western thought we can see a profound vision of modernity that is not reducible to the influences of either traditional Chinese thought or Western modernity.

Katerina Gajdosova, “Names (ming 名) from the Perspective of Onto-Hermeneutics: Reconciling Cheng Chung-ying and Heidegger on the Problem of Language”

The paper seeks to contribute to the debate about the relevance of comparative philosophy approach to the study of ancient Chinese philosophy. It has been frequently pointed out that Western metaphysics, formulated since Plato and Aristotle in deeply dualist terms, does not do justice to ancient Chinese ontology. For a more profound understanding of the Daoist cosmology and the Yijing that constitute the background of pre-Han philosophical texts, a different ontological model is required: the one based on processuality instead of the absolute and unchanging, on unity instead of duality, and on dynamic interaction of opposites instead of unidirectional (subject-object) relationship.
Yet, we do have efficient interpretive models overcoming subject-object split and embracing the view of the continuous interaction of opposites, such as Gadamer’s hermeneutics of being or Heidegger’s phenomenology. The paper demonstrates how these models can be applied to the interpretation of ancient Chinese texts, in particular how the topic of names (ming 名) in the pre-Han philosophy can be reinterpreted from the perspective of Heidegger’s Dasein as self-articulating Being-in-the-world. It thus develops on Cheng Chung-ying’s onto-hermeneutics of the Yijing by bringing in the dimension of language and speech as self-articulation of the cosmos

Antje Ehrhardt, “Mou Zongsan’s (1909–1995) Philosophical Language: Analysing his Concept of ‘Reality’ (shiti 实体)”

In his main work The Moral consciousness and the Moral Nature of Men (Xinti yu Xingti 心体与性体), Mou creates his own philosophical language: he uses numerous compositions, nouns and verbal, of ti 体. With these compositions, he makes clear what, according to him, is the fundamental unit of all that exists. In this way, Mou finds confirmation of his thesis on the possibility of providing a systematic explanation of the Confucian moral doctrine handed down. The central concept of this monistic perspective lies, in Mou Zongsan’s thought, in the concept shiti 实体, which he also expresses in English as “reality.” The paper aims to demonstrate how the concept of Mou shiti (实体) or chuangzao shiti 创造实体, “creative reality,” is to be understood as an intersection point in which the arguments of his three thematic orders converge: his critic of Zhu Xi (1130–1200), his interpretation of Kant’s moral philosophy and his understanding of Confucian moral philosophy. As one of the most significant New Confucians (xin ru jia 新儒家) of the twentieth century, Mou Zongsan argues that Confucian doctrine has a cross-cultural value because of its “religious and ethical ideals.” According to Mou, Confucian doctrine, as religious and moral faith, includes equally the needs of a philosophical metaphysics and those of a religion.

Christian Soffel, “Cultural Nationalism and Chinese Exceptionalism: Contemporary Chinese Confucians Discussing ‘Universal Values’”

In spite of the remarkable changes within the People’s Republic of China during the past decades, leading to economic growth, an increased standard of living and—at least on the surface—a significantly higher level of political and cultural self-confidence, the focus on national peculiarities is a persisting theme in the intellectual discussion of the PRC still today. In particular, this can be observed by taking a look at the discussion of universal values that took place among influential Confucian scholars around the years 2012–2014. The contents of a series of conferences, published under the title He wei pushi? Shei zhi jiazhi? 何謂普世?誰之價值?(What is universal? Whose values?), permit us to take a glance at the layer behind the ideologically controlled surface and get acquainted with some modes of thinking widespread among Confucian intellectuals from the PRC. From an analysis of these discussions about “universal values”, we will be able to reflect on arguments that are used to “exceptionalize” Chinese culture and devalue Western culture. Instead of trying to enrich the global discussion on the notion of “universal values” with elements from Chinese cultural tradition, the focus is laid on strengthening the own tradition while eliminating the “Western values”. In addition, this form of Chinese cultural nationalism is combined with materialistic thought, which can be traced back to Marxist ideology.

Papers on Philosophy I

2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Room 5

  • ·Chaired by Geir Sigurðsson
  • Javier Carames Sanchez, “Are qing 情 the Same Thing as Pathos (πάθος) in the Pre-Qin Period?”
  • Geir Sigurðsson, “Aging in Classical Chinese Philosophy”
  • Ai Yuan, “Functions of and Attitudes toward Silence in the Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋”

Javier Caramés Sánchez, “Are qing 情 the Same Thing as Pathos (πάθος) in the Pre-Qin Period?”

There is a discussion about the meaning of qing 情. Some scholars as Angus Graham and Chad Hansen argue that qing did not refer to emotions in the Pre-Qin period. Others as Michael Puett said it alludes to emotions. This dissertation will focus on the Xingzimingchu 性自命出 and it will discuss that qing and dao 道 are two characters with a complementary meaning that are very similar to the one that the terms logos (λόγος) and pathos (πάθος) have in the Rhetoric of Aristotle.
The methodology I will use is to analyse the metaphors behind the terms qing and dao. I will argue that the meaning of qing in the Xingzimingchu is a metaphor that identifies what is hidden inside the individual with the state secrets. I will also argue that behind dao there is a metaphor that identifies a path with the correct way through which human behaviour must move. Since qing is an inner entity that needs external guidance, I consider it a term similar to the pathos. In the same way as dao, logos is an external object that can be used to guide human behaviour.

Geir Sigurðsson, “Aging in Classical Chinese Philosophy”

In the history of Western philosophy, scarce attention has been given to the notion of ageing. Certainly, death has always been a popular topic, both as a mystical/religious and more recently an existential issue, but, with some notable exceptions, the chronological process leading to natural death has been for the most part neglected. However, in classical Chinese philosophical writings, ageing has always featured rather prominently as a natural aspect of life to be pondered and discussed no less than others. In this lecture, I want to outline mainly two seminal approaches to ageing by classical Chinese philosophers, which rather neatly portrays the main focal distinction between the Confucian and the Daoist schools. I will argue, first, that the underlying importance of temporality in Chinese philosophy necessarily brings about a keen awareness of ageing as a part of life, and, secondly, that the scope and different foci of the Confucian/Daoist views offer together an alluring alternative to the current notion of ‘successful ageing.’

Ai Yuan, “Functions of and Attitudes toward Silence in the Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋”

This paper looks beyond the dichotomy of silence (mo 默) and speech (yan 言), and discusses the functions of and attitudes toward silence in the Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋 as a representative case for the idea of silence in early China. In the West, silence has been widely explored in fields such as religion and theology, linguistic studies, and communication and literary studies, where the consensus has moved away from viewing silence as abstaining from speech and utterance—and therefore absent of meaning and intention, toward seeing it as a culturally dependent and significant aspect of communication. However, beyond a number of studies discussing unspoken teachings in relation to early Daoism and Buddhism, silence has received little attention in early China studies. This paper approaches the functions of silence by pursuing questions regarding its rhetorical, emotive, political, and ethical aspects. Through a survey of dialogues, stories and arguments in Yanzi chunqiu, I show that silence is explicitly marked and explained within the text and used actively, purposefully, and meaningfully, to persuade, inform, and motivate audiences. In other words, silence is anything but natural and spontaneous. Rather, it is intentionally adopted, carefully crafted, and publicly performed to communicate, remonstrate, criticise, reveal, and target certain ideas. That is to say, silence is as argumentative as speech and it is as arbitrary as language.