A New Kind of “Chinese” Philosophy

I was in Taiwan a few weeks ago and picked up a newish (2011) book: 《漢語哲學新視域》or New Horizons of Chinese Philosophy. The term for “Chinese philosophy” here is hanyu zhexue: the standard word for “philosophy” coupled with a term that means “Chinese language.” The collection of essays (edited by 汪文聖 Wang Wensheng) is divided into four section:

  • Viewing Earlier Chinese Philosophy from the Perspective of Today’s Problematiques
  • Viewing Western Philosophy from the Perspective of the Problematiques of Chinese Philosophy (zhongguo zhexue 中國哲學)
  • Viewing Chinese philosophy (zhongguo zhexue 中國哲學) from the Perspective of Western philosophy’s Problematiques
  • Viewing Western Philosophy from the Perspective of Universal Problematiques

One of the most interesting papers in this collection, which also nicely showcases the idea of “Chinese [-language] philosophy,” is Fabien Heubel (何乏筆)’s “漢語哲學在台灣:當代儒學與跨文化修養論的前景 Taiwan and the Potential of Contemporary Philosophy in Chinese [i.e., hanyu zhexue — SA] — On the Prospects of a Transcultural Theory of Cultivation.” Here is his abstract:

My discussion of contemporary philosophy in Chinese takes its start from the transcultural potential of philosophy in Taiwan. Against the background of the development of East Asia in the 20th century, I reflect on the philosophical significance of a historical process in which Taiwan has been exposed to Japanese, Euro-American, and Chinese influence. I connect the transcultural potential of philosophy in Chinese to the complexity of cultural experience which can be transformed into creative development. The crucial question is, in my point of view, whether philosophy in Taiwan is able to undergo a self-conscious process of de-ideologization and de-nationalization of “Chinese culture” and, thereby, enter into a post-national constellation of thought. The second part of my paper deals with the transcultural relation between critical theory and contemporary Neo-Confucianism. Critical reflections on Marxism by European critical theory (especially Frankfurt School critical theory) further provide a perspective to approach the question howe Chinese Marxism and contemporary Neo-Confucianism may enter into fruitful dialogue. The third part is concerned with the idea of a “new ascetics” and related paradoxes of capitalist modernity. I discuss Max Weber’s, Michael Foucault’s, and Peter Sloterdijk’s research into the relation between subjectivity and capitalism with the aim of clarifying a new perspective in Confucian ascetics. My aim is to open up the possibility of a fruitful encounter with the cultural resources of Confucian ascetics. The fourth part makes an attempt to explain why the so-called energetic [i.e., qi — SA] school of Confucianism provides ideas which are especially important for a transcultural theory of cultivation. Therefore I touch upon the relation between the “heart school” and the “energy school” of Confucianism. This relation not only refers to very different approaches to Song-Ming-dynasty Neo-Confucianism but also reflects, in a philosophical way, the political and cultural split between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland after 1949. I suggest that this issue will be of major importance for the development of transcultural perspectives in the field of Confucian studies.

There’s a lot there! Comments on any aspect of this project of “Chinese [-language] philosophy” most welcome.

Hannah Pang detail

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