Summer School on Contemporary Chinese Thought -
Aesthetics, Anthropology, and Ethics through the Lens of Li Zehou’s Philosophy
Ljubljana, June 16-20, 2022
We invite PhD students and post-docs from all European universities to participate in a four-day summer school on Li Zehou's system of thought. The rich intellectual legacy of Li Zehou, one of the most influential contemporary Chinese scholars, can help us understand the specific fusion of Western and traditional Chinese discourses that shaped contemporary Chinese society at the threshold of the third millennium.
The summer school will take place at the University of Ljubljana from June 16-20, 2022, and is jointly organized by the Department of Asian Studies of this university and the European Association for Chinese Philosophy (EACP).
There is no tuition fee and the organizers will cover the cost of accommodation and meals for all participants. The number of participating students is limited to 25. The summer school will be led by five internationally recognized experts on the thought of Li Zehou:
You will be notified about the acceptance no later than March 10 and we will send you the preparation material as well as the schedule of the course by the end of March.
In early November 2021, Li Zehou, one of the giants of contemporary Chinese thought, passed away. Li Zehou was undoubtedly one of the most significant, important and influential Chinese philosophers and experts on Chinese culture of our time, and one of the few Chinese intellectuals whose works found a wide readership outside China. In the last two decades of the 20th century, he was a hero of Chinese youth and a role model for many Chinese intellectuals. His ideas had a tremendous impact on various areas of contemporary Chinese thought.
Therefore, the main aim of this summer school is to introduce his important work to the youngest generation of European scholars in the field of Chinese studies and/or philosophy, and to provide them with a valuable insight into the structure of his thought and its main contents
Indeed, an insight into Li's intellectual system can help us understand the specific fusion of Western and traditional Chinese discourses that has shaped contemporary Chinese society on the threshold of the third millennium.
He became famous in the 1980s with his works on Chinese aesthetics. In the creative urgency of that time, when aesthetics seemed to offer the most effective redemption from the difficult experiences of the Cultural Revolution, Li offered young Chinese new, extraordinarily creative interpretations of art, philosophy, and literature.
Moreover, his theory of anthropohistorical ontology led several Chinese theorists to critically rethink the conformist version of Marxist epistemology and aesthetics. Li was also one of the first Chinese scholars to openly advocate a "rehabilitation" of Confucius as a representative symbol of Chinese intellectual heritage, and to call for a critical revival of Confucian thought. Countless debates on aesthetics, epistemology, ethics, or traditional Chinese thought have been inspired by Li Zehou's theories. In various intellectual, artistic, and cultural circles, his ideas were extensively cited as authoritative, and he became the intellectual icon or guru of many university students. In addition to his attempts to bridge various social dichotomies – individual freedom and social or historical necessity, alienation and progress, subjective emotions and objective laws – Li was seen primarily as a bridge between the older and younger generations of Chinese intellectuals.
Despite the complexity and wide range of his works, which cannot be reduced to prevailing philosophical categories or currents, he is undoubtedly one of the most important modern scholars of Chinese history and culture, especially considering that his work was central to the Chinese Enlightenment of the 1980s. Li launched many new perspectives that had a great impact not only on Chinese but also on global theories of ethics, humanism, aesthetics, and philosophical anthropology.
Li's popularity reached truly stupendous proportions. His books almost always sold out within a few days of publication, and there was hardly a dorm room that did not have at least one volume of his Critique of Critical Philosophy, even though the book was extremely complex and difficult to read. His enormous influence and appeal were felt by a whole generation of Chinese youth, who saw him as an inspiring intellectual leader comparable to Jean-Paul Sartre or Herbert Marcuse in Western culture. We can probably attribute this influence to two main reasons: Li's openly professed love of beauty, and his appreciation of freedom.
These two ideals are still at the forefront of the intellectual and sensual aspirations of many young people around the world. Therefore, Li Zehou's thinking can undoubtedly contribute to a better understanding of his Chinese homeland, its society, and culture.
The president of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP), of which the EACP is a member, has spread the following announcement:
Message sent to all member societies, associations, and institutes of FISP
on the occasion of the World Day of Philosophy
Dear fellow philosophers, colleagues, and friends,
For many of us, the World Philosophy Day is still falling amidst particularly turbulent times. We observe an increasing awareness that the ongoing pandemic is not just one sanitary crisis yet; instead, it may represent the onset of a spiral that could, potentially yet dramatically, intensify the existing economic and social inequalities on a global scale.
Philosophers might dismiss this fear, or instead decide to embed our theoretical reflections into the actual reality of our time, addressing its main social, ethical, spiritual, religious, and political concerns. Earlier this year, a prospect into the future of our communities was opened by the decision of holding the next World Congress of Philosophy in Rome, Italy, in August 2024. Inviting a World Congress in an increasingly unpredictable and uncertain world was not an easy decision. It engages philosophy in the public sphere at large, bringing together ideas, traditions, and people from all continents and regions. But, in questioning the economic, technological, and cultural destiny of our common world, philosophy could hard ignore the inherent risks of a process of polarization that is likely to direly enhance civil subalternity, political subjection, and economic servitude across the planet.
Thinking across national and political divides, across cultural delimitations, thinking “across boundaries” is the theme that was chosen for this 25th World Congress of Philosophy. Perhaps we, as philosophers, could see it as a commitment to foster a shared reflection on the future of our diverse societies, and on the models that we would like them to be inspired by.
I wish you a creative, productive, and convivial World Philosophy Day.
Luca Maria Scarantino
President of Fisp
International Federation of Philosophical Societies
Message envoyé aux sociétés, associations et instituts membres de la Fisp
à l’occasion de la Journée internationale de la Philosophie
Chères et chers collègues, amies et amis,
Cette année encore, la Journée mondiale de la philosophie survient à un moment trouble pour nombre d’entre nous. La pandémie en cours, semble-t-on constater, n’aurait rien d’une crise exclusivement sanitaire. Elle marque au contraire le début d’une pente durable, d’une spirale susceptible d’accroître les disparités économiques et sociales existantes et d’accélérer le processus de polarisation à l’échelle internationale.
On peut choisir de faire l’impasse sur cette préoccupation. Mais on peut aussi décider d’ancrer nos réflexions philosophiques dans la réalité sociale et historique de notre époque, de manière à examiner les principales inquiétudes sociales, éthiques, spirituelles, religieuses et politiques de celle-ci.
En début d’année, l’annonce que le prochain Congrès mondial de la philosophie aura lieu à Rome, en août 2024, a ouvert une perspective nouvelle pour nos communautés savantes. Pourtant, convoquer un Congrès mondial dans un monde qui devient de plus en plus imprévisible et incertain n’est pas une décision que l’on prend à la légère. Elle émane du désir d’engager résolument la philosophie dans la sphère publique, de réunir des idées, des traditions et des personnes originaires de tous les continents et de toutes les régions du monde. Or au moment de s’interroger sur l’avenir économique, technologique, voire culturel de notre monde, la pensée philosophie ne saurait ignorer un danger inhérent au processus de polarisation en cours : à savoir, le risque d’aggraver de manière systémique les dynamiques de subordination civile, d’assujettissement politique et de dépendance économique à travers la planète.
Penser par-delà les démarcations nationales et politiques, par-delà les clivages culturels, penser « par-delà les frontières » est la visée qui inspire le XXVe Congrès mondial de philosophie et que ce dernier s’est donné pour thème. Peut-être pourrions-nous y voir le désir d’engager la philosophie, et les différentes cultures qui s’expriment à travers elle, à réfléchir à l’avenir de nos sociétés et aux modèles desquels nous souhaiterions les voir s’inspirer.
Permettez-moi de vous souhaiter, chères et chers collègues, amies et ami, une Journée mondiale de la philosophie aussi fructueuse, créative et conviviale que possible.
Luca Maria Scarantino
Président de la Fisp
Fédération internationale des sociétés de philosophie
Joseph Harroff (American University, Washington D.C.) and Ľubomír Dunaj (University of Vienna) have launced a call for papers for a special issue of Pragmatism Today on the topic "Time for Another Enlightenment: Reconstructing Modernities with Chinese Philosophy and World Pragmatism".
For more information, go to https://pragmatismtoday.com/index.php?id=callforpapers
Master Li, the Beauty of Life, and the Ethics of Becoming Human
Early in the morning of November third, I received a shocking message from my friend and colleague Li Chenyang. He wrote to me in an email that Professor Li Zehou, who was one of the most important people in my life, had passed away that night. Although we did not have a very close personal relationship, having met only a few times in his later years, I was closely connected to him through my professional work, especially in 2018-2020, a time when I wrote my two books on his philosophy and ethics. During those years, I was intensely connected to his ideas and his deep reflections of vivid, unceasing life. Every day I lived with his spirit practically from morning till night, and his ideas of becoming human, sedimentation, subjectality, emotion-based substance, relationalism, and many others accompanied me in my dreams until slowly and gradually, step by step, they became a permanent part of my own soul.
When I learned of his passing, therefore, I was devastated. I had hoped to see him once more to give him my best wishes for a long life and good health, but death was quicker. And of course, this great loss is not my own. Not only me, the whole world has lost a great thinker, a lucid theorist and an innovative philosopher. Just like his philosophy, he was always completely open and vividly curious as a person. At the same time, he was firm and uncompromising about his convictions and believes. Therefore, he always followed his very own path, a way that was unique and therefore often a little lonely.
Now, looking back at Li Zehou's own long and winding path, we quickly realize that creating and walking such a path is anything but easy. It requires not only strength and courage, intellect and creativity, but also a subtle but powerful sensibility informed by an eternal longing for beauty that is never quite fulfilled. Li's philosophy, among others, has shown us that beauty is not just the ultimate realm of our human values, nor is it limited to the ultimate realm of our humanness and our humanity. It also offers us autonomy and liberation from estrangement. Li offers us the certainty that we ourselves possess our freedom, not only in terms of free choices, but also in a broader and much more complex sense of such individual free will, which can only be fully realized through the full recognition and implementation of our social responsibility.
This freedom, which in reality is based on constraints and on enriching obligations, further reinforces the sense of belonging in a multitude of differences. Viewed from a broader intercultural perspective, Li's way of thinking points to a common human path, regardless of differences in our individual preferences, cultures, languages, and traditions. His philosophical thought, which is thoroughly reflected in his particular intellectual path, reminds us of our belonging to humanity. With his insightful explanations and sharp theoretical syntheses, Li makes us appreciate the complex, rich, and diverse intellectual heritage that his ancient homeland, Chinese culture, can offer our globalized world.
His contributions to the new global ethics are of paramount importance, especially in today's world, which is in dire need of new intercultural dialogues and transcultural solidarity. There are strong foundations for such transcultural solidarity and intercultural exchange in Li Zehou's theory, for he has created it not only for himself, and not only for Chinese or Americans, but for all humanity. The powerful beauty of his ideas is irresistible, and they will continue to influence people in their search for our common humanness. Their inner strength is based on Li Zehou's intimate experience with impermanence on the one hand, and on his sincere belief in the enduring eternity and immortality of beauty on the other. For everyone who has met him, everyone who has had the opportunity to plunge into the deep pools of his spiritual vastness, has learned that the beauty of the human spirit can always overcome death. Professor Li understood this from an early age.
Li Zehou was twelve years old when his father died. That year, as he wandered in the highlands, he was met by the astonishing sight of a meadow covered with splendidly blooming yellow mountain flowers. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the moment, he suddenly became aware of his own mortality. He wondered what meaning this beauty had, for it seemed meaningless, fleeting, and empty. Afterwards, young Li experienced a kind of existential crisis that led him to skip school for three days.
After this decisive moment, his interests, which were already very broad, gradually focused on philosophical questions and later increasingly on aesthetics. Through the study of aesthetics he hoped to find answers to the eternal questions of how we perceive and evaluate beauty and what it means to humanity. Ultimately, it was philosophy, and aesthetics in particular, that helped him understand that as an individual he would always be deeply affected by the laws of social development; even though individual life is tragic, it was easier to understand that it is the laws of the common development of human communities that elevate human purpose to the level of the sublime. It was probably also due to this brief but decisive experience that his later philosophy never left the realm of human life, and that his theory proceeded from the fundamental fact that "human being is alive."
Li Zehou will always remain alive. He will live on through his works. I have always tried to make his works known in my home country, Slovenia. To celebrate our friendship, I would therefore like to conclude with my Chinese translation of a poem written by a young Slovenian poet named Srečko Kosovel. Although Kosovel died in 1926 at the early age of 22, he will live on through his work. So will my beloved and respected master Li Zehou. For them, there is no death.
Jana S. Rošker
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Li Zehou 李泽厚(1930-2021). Li Zehou was one of the most creative and influential Chinese philosophers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The vast and rich body of work he leaves behind - comproming topics as diverse as the theory and history of (Chinese) aesthetics, a radical reinterpretation of Kant's transcendental idealism in conversation with the historical materialism of Marx, a contemporary reading of the Confucian Analects, and researches in ancient as well as modern Chinese intellectual history - will continue to serve as a source of inspiration for future generations of scholars in China and beyond.
From the perspective of Confucian philosophers, one can only understand death and apprehend existence through the consciousness of death if one has already come to a prior understanding of life. The reason why human beings can intensely experience existence itself by being faced with their own mortality is precisely because existence as such derives its meaning from being alive. The meaning of life is a process that is formed historically and can only be grasped through the relationship with a community. Therefore, in Confucianism “life and death” are anthropological phenomena closely related to the interpersonal ties between human beings. In this sense, “death” is no longer some formal, mysterious generality or something living beings are instinctively afraid of, but rather counts as an individual's direct experience of the formation of an anthropological substance.
- Li Zehou, "An Account of the Chinese Tradition" (Zhongguo chuantong de shushuo 中国传统的述说), 1988
Beyond Free Will: Variety in Understanding of Choice, Luck, and Necessity June 20-23, 2022 Vilnius University, Lithuania
Call for papers
Contemporary Western discourse on freedom and choice – some of the most championed modern
values – is usually anchored in the concept cluster of free will and autonomous choice. In turn,
academic research on free will in philosophy (including experimental philosophy) and psychology is
largely based on a limited conceptual framework with roots in particular debates in Christianity and
European philosophy. This framework is currently challenged by multidisciplinary and
interdisciplinary approaches applied in the fields of area and Asian studies, comparative philosophy,
and also empirical research in cross-cultural psychology, and anthropology.
In the present multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary conference, we invite scholars from philosophy,
psychology, anthropology, Asian studies, religious studies and other related fields to discuss theoretical alternatives to the dominant framework that are sensitive to cultural differences and local contexts as well as empirical research - especially cross-cultural and cross-linguistic – on conceptualisations of free and constrained action and cultural practices in dealing with these constraints.
For more information, see the flyer.
Call for Papers- 1st Online Conference of the European Association for Chinese Philosophy “Chinese Philosophy: Paths between Convergence and Divergence” - December 3, 2021
As previously announced, due to the ongoing pandemic, the 4th Biennial Conference of EACP has
been postponed to the year 2023. However, our community of scholars needs opportunities to meet
and exchange research outputs before that time, thus the board – although convinced that online
conference could never substitute a face-to-face meeting – has decided to organize an online
conference in the meantime.
The conference theme is “Chinese Philosophy: Paths between Convergence and Divergence”.
It is usually acknowledged that Chinese philosophy bloomed during the Warring States, in an epoch
of cultural and political division when thinkers or masters roamed from one state to the other, trying
to present their ways of thinking and governing to the different rulers. Therefore, despite the antihistoric and monolithic Orientalist interpretation of China, this philosophy arose thanks to the
richness of the divergence of thoughts. Simultaneously, since the Han, the Chinese Empire showed
a holistic attitude aiming at composing those divergences, often at the price of homologation.
However, thanks to the disrupting and enriching effect of Buddhist thought, refined syncretic
schools arose as that of the Song and Ming Neo-Confucians. Furthermore, since the first Jesuits entered China, the meeting with Western thought has presented both divergent and convergent streams, which continues to be the case nowadays. Contemporary philosophy in China shows this divergence-convergence paradigm constantly at work. Despite this paradigm being in common with other civilizations’ histories, Chinese thought provides a very peculiar view on the question of divergence-convergence which contributes to a more prolific transcultural definition of the paradigm. This peculiar view – which we can differently name correlative thought, nonduality of opposites, relational thinking, binary categories system, etc. – took a large variety of forms in the long history of Chinese thought. One of the most renowned and influential is the yin-yang 陰陽 theory, but the paradigm is also evident in Han historiography, Huayan Buddhism, naturalist poetry, and Neo-Confucianism, not to mention contemporary New Confucianism, where we can find extraordinarily relevant and innovative instances of this paradigm. In this conference, speakers are invited to discuss their research to shed new light on the richness of this correlative intellectual attitude from any perspective: metaphysical, ethical, historical, theoretical, linguistic, rhetorical, esthetic, etc.
Scholars interested in Chinese philosophy and philosophy in China are invited to submit proposals
for individual papers or panels to the organizers of the conference: Selusi Ambrogio
<email@example.com>, Mercedes Valmisa <firstname.lastname@example.org>, and Jan Vrhovski
Abstracts should be no more than 250 words. Panel proposals should include the title and a brief
description of the panel and the names, affiliations, email addresses of the participants, and the titlesof each participant’s presentation with 250 words abstracts. The deadline for submission is
October 31, 2021. Notice of acceptance of proposals will be sent to your email address by
November 21, with instructions for how to access and links to the conference.
The official languages of the conference are English and Chinese.
Please find the announcement on EACP Board's decision to postpone the 4th EACP Biennial Conference in Macerata, containing information on other pending issues (General Assembly) and scheduled events (EACP Online Events2021_eacp_macerata_postponement_announcement.pdf) in the PDF attachment.
2ND EACP ONLINE EVENT: COMPARATIVE, POST-COMPARATIVE, OR TRANSCULTURAL? - CHINESE PHILOSOPHY AND NEW METHODOLOGIES
We cordially invite you to our next EACP ONLINE EVENT -
Symposium with general discussion under the title
COMPARATIVE, POST-COMPARATIVE, OR TRANSCULTURAL?
CHINESE PHILOSOPHY AND NEW METHODOLOGIESDate and time: Friday, July 23, 2021 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 (CET)
Fabian Heubel: “Identity and Sameness. Between Comparative and Transcultural Philosophy“
Hans-Georg Moeller: "Some Remarks on Post-Comparative Philosophy"
Vytis Silius: "Postcomparative philosophy: between universality and particularity"
Geir Sigurðsson: “In Defense of Comparative Philosophy: A Sino-Hermeneutic Approach”
Ralph Weber: “On the ‘Post’ in Post-Comparative Philosophy”
Jana S. Rošker: "Transcultural Philosophy of Sublation"
Location: ZOOM Link: https://uni-lj-si.zoom.us/j/95736132076
Topic: EACP online event (POST)COMPARATIVE TRANSCULTURAL PHILOSOPHY
Meeting ID: 957 3613 2076
At the beginning of the event, each of the speakers will give a very short (max. 10 minutes) individual statement on the topic, which will then serve as a starting point for the subsequent general plenary debate with the audience.
In this debate, we will all collectively share our ideas on some of the "hot questions" that stir many minds in contemporary research on Chinese philosophy. These may include (but need not remain limited to) the following topics:
On these foundations, we hope to provide some new ideas for future approaches and principles in transcultural studies of Chinese philosophy.
23 April 2021 (14h00-16h00 CEST)
Speakers: Ralph Weber, Philippe Major, Chan Yim Fong and Milan Matthiesen (University of Basel).
While European-language scholarship on Modern Confucianism has been steadily expanding for the last 20 years, the approaches adopted in the field have remained for the most part either philosophical or historical. Building on the strengths of such approaches, the workshop will argue for an opening up of new and/or interdisciplinary perspectives by focusing on the value of a digital humanities approach to Modern Confucianism. Situated in the broader framework of a Sociology of Modern Confucian Philosophy, a digital humanities approach has the potential to reveal new and unforeseen perspectives on Modern Confucian Philosophy. For more information on the presenters’ Sociology of Modern Confucian Philosophy project based at the Institute for European Global Studies of the University of Basel, please visit their homepage at https://europa.unibas.ch/de/forschung/european-global-knowledge-production/the-exterior-of-philosophy/.
The event is organized by the European Association for Chinese Philosophy. If you would like to attend this event, please register with Philippe Major: email@example.com