Year-end Review from Berggruen China Center

Sent by the The Berggruen Research Center, Peking University:

The year has been challenging but not without inspiration. The Center’s first book, Intelligence and Wisdom: AI Meets Chinese Philosophers, was published by CITIC Press Group in February and has sold over 6300 copies. In March, while promoting the book, we moved all the Centers activities online. We hosted two workshops on “AI Narratives in China”, a collaboration with Cambridge Universitys Leverhulme Center, which explores the effects of local culture and historical narratives on the reception of AI in China. We also held three closed-door workshops for our “Facial Recognition and Privacy” program, which focuses on how facial recognition policies can best reflect cultural values and social practices. The Berggruen Seminar series was relaunched online in July, and we have since hosted four events: “Confucian Common Sense Meets the AI Revolution”, “What Should Care Robots Care About?”, “Digital Personality”, and “AI, Emotion, and Ethics”.

We also launched a new online public program, the Global Thinkers series, which featured Jared Diamond at its inaugural event on risk management in coping with the global pandemic.

In October, the Center launched a new online product, Ruin, which brings together translated articles from Berggruen Institute’s journal Noema and other original contributions sourced locally. We hope that Ruin becomes a public square for creative thinkers where innovative ideas are recognized, debated, enriched, and propagated. We also launched an account on video platform Bilibili, attracting more than 40,000 views over three live streamed events.

The Center welcomed a new cohort of Fellows this year: Bai Shunong, Professor of Biology at Peking University; Duan Weiwen, Professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Hao Jingfang, science fiction author and researcher; and Lu Qiaoying and Sabastian Sunday Grève, Assistant Professors at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Peking University.

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New Book: Elstein, ed., Dao Companion to Contemporary Confucian Philosophy

The latest volume in the authoritative Dao Companion series has been published: David Elstein, ed., Dao Companion to Contemporary Confucian Philosophy (Springer, 2021). The editorial description:

This edited volume presents a comprehensive examination of contemporary Confucian philosophy from its roots in the late 19th century to the present day. It provides a thorough introduction to the major philosophers and topics in contemporary Confucian philosophy. The individual chapters study the central figures in 20th century Confucian philosophy in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as the important influences on recent Confucian philosophy. In addition, topical chapters focus on contemporary Confucian theory of knowledge, ethics, politics, aesthetics, and views of human nature. The volume brings together scholars from around the world to provide a sound overview of the philosophy of the period and illustrate the important current debates. Confucian philosophy has been undergoing a revival in China for more than three decades, and this book presents the most significant work of the past century and more. By giving a detailed account of the philosophical positions involved, explaining the terminology of contemporary Confucian philosophy, and situating the views in their historical context, this volume enables the reader to understand what is at stake and evaluate the arguments.

The Table of Contents follows.

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Lloyd-Dan David Research Fellowship at the Needham Research Institute and Darwin College Cambridge

Closing date: Sunday 31st January 2021

Applications are invited for a three-year postdoctoral research fellowship to work on the Comparative Study of any aspect of Science and Civilization in the Ancient World (defined as down to 1000 AD). The successful applicant will be a member of the Needham Research Institute, a Research Fellow of Darwin College, and will be expected to play a full role in the intellectual life of the Institute and the College.

For full details, please consult the NRI website:

http://www.nri.cam.ac.uk/Lloyd_Dan_David_Fellowship.html

New Book: Chung on Wang Yangming in Korea

Rowman & Littlefield has published Edward Chung, The Great Synthesis of Wang Yangming Neo-Confucianism in Korea. The author adds that for those colleagues who would like to purchase it at the author’s discount (30%), its special promotion code is LEX30AUTH20. The table of contents follows.

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Article of Interest: Batsch, “The Rationality Wars”

Readers may be interested in: Shadi Bartsch, “The Rationality Wars: The Ancient Greeks and the Counter-Enlightenment in Contemporary China,” History & Theory 59:4 (2020). Here’s the abstract:

Amid contemporary discussions about the relationship of logic to knowing, an entirely different conversation about the moral status of rationality is taking place between Chinese and Western thinkers. Although most would agree that deductive thought has been a highly privileged feature of the Western philosophical tradition since Plato (for good or bad), the question of its role in Confucian thought is less clear—and considerations of this topic tend to be highly charged. In turn, the question of whether the West has been tarred by a Weberian descent into a merely instrumental form of rationality has emerged as a hot topic in Chinese scholarship. However, the question merely supplies a way of engaging in cross‐cultural comparisons that are political rather than genuinely philosophical in nature. This article explores the sparring over terminology and concepts that characterizes this recent trend in scholarship. Ultimately, it suggests that instead of Chinese scholars appropriating the ideas of Western authors in order to raise anti‐Western specters of spiritual derangement, both traditions would be better off discarding this outdated and essentializing terminology in the first place.

English-based MA and Visiting Program in Chinese philosophy at Fudan

Dear friends,
Thanks to your support, since it was launched in 2011, the MA and Visiting programs in Chinese philosophy (with courses taught in English) at Fudan have been extremely successful.  105 students have been enrolled in either the M.A. program (87 students) and the visiting student program (18 students).  They are from 35 countries and from respected institutions of higher education, and many of them are top students in their classes, majoring in (Western) philosophy, classics, East Asian or Chinese studies, international relations, political science, and etc. Therefore, either in terms of the quantity or the quality of the students, the Fudan programs simply are the most successful of their kind (English-based post-graduate programs in Chinese philosophy) in mainland China.
The program boasts perhaps the largest community of English-speaking postgraduate students interested in Chinese philosophy in the world, a community our students have enjoyed greatly.  The comprehensiveness and specialization of our curriculum in Chinese philosophy are unmatched by other programs.  We have also assigned tutors to our students, helping them read classical Chinese texts, in addition to the normal language classes.  Because of the number and the quality of our students, our programs are a “favorite” of the university administration.  As a result, we have been EXTREMELY successful at securing fellowships for students applying for the MA program.  (For the visiting student program, only partial fellowships are available through Fudan, but students can apply through some external channels, like the Chinese Scholarship Council, the EU, Chinese consulates, Confucius Institutes, etc..)
To continue its success, I ask you to help us to distribute the information about the programs and encourage your students to apply.  If they are already in a doctoral program and wish to spend a year in China, they are also welcome. You can go to the following website for more detailed information: https://iso.fudan.edu.cn/_upload/article/files/b8/c0/cc82835d42f79cb393ae0822292b/847b99d0-bc54-4bc7-9040-bab8d5976a52.pdf
Thank you, and be safe and well!
Happy Holidays!
Tongdong

Angle Reviews Bell and Wang, Just Hierarchy

My review of Daniel Bell and Wang Pei’s book Just Hierarchy: Why Social Hierarchies Matter in China and the Rest of the World (Princeton, 2020) has been published in Ethics; see here. The review ends as follows:

…Perhaps a different approach is in order, one more rooted in China’s dynamic traditions than in the modernism that colors some of Bell and Wang’s thinking. Recalling Zhang Zai’s Western Inscription, we could think about the relationality inherent in the entire, ever-changing cosmos and conceptualize these relations through various degrees of kinship. Care, attention, reciprocity, mutuality, learn- ing, and growth would be the watchwords of such a perspective. There is an important place for just—or maybe more accurately, humane or harmonious—hierarchy in such a vision, and Bell and Wang can be important conversation partners in working out what is and what is not valuable among both traditional and more recent forms of social differentiation. Much of this differentiation (such as sexism and racism) needs strong critique, but at the same time, there is reason to agree with Aaron Stalnaker’s concern that modernity in many societies has been characterized by a “systematic pathologization of dependence” (Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020], 24). Drawing on Wang and Bell’s book and also on more thoroughgoing efforts to engage with traditional philosophical resources from around the world, it should be possible to identify and defend unequal but healthy forms of social cooperation.

 

 

 

interview with the New Books Network

At the risk of shameless self-promotion, I’m posting to a link to a recent podcast interview about my new book, The Art of Chinese Philosophy, hosted by the New Books Network.  Thanks to Alexus McLeod for some very thoughtful questions!

New Books Network | Paul Goldin, “The Art of Chinese Philosophy:…

David Chai was recently interviewed on the same network:

New Books Network | David Chai, “Zhuangzi and the Becoming of…