The Horizon of Modernity

Subjectivity and Social Structure in New Confucian Philosophy


The Horizon of Modernity provides an extensive account of New Confucian philosophy that cuts through the boundaries between history and thought. This study explores Mou Zongsan's and Tang Junyi's critical confrontation with Marxism and Communism in relation to their engagement with Western thinkers such as Kant and Hegel. The author analyzes central conceptual aporias in the works of Mou, Tang, as well as Xiong Shili in the context of the revival of Confucianism in contemporary China and the emergence of the discipline of philosophy in twentieth-century Chinese intellectual history. This book casts new light on the nexus between the categories of subjectivity and social structure and the relation between philosophy, modern temporality, and the structural conditions of the modern world.
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Biographical Note

Ady Van den Stock obtained a Ph.D in Oriental Languages and Cultures at Ghent University (Belgium) in 2015. He researches modern Chinese intellectual history and the reinvention of traditional thought in the context of the historical transformations of modern society.

Table of contents

Acknowledgments vii
Abbreviations viii
Introduction: Modernity as a Horizon 1
1 Aims and Approach of the Present Study 1
2 Chapter Outline 19
1 History and Historical Consciousness in Contemporary China: Political
Confucianism, Spiritual Confucianism, and the Politics of Spirit
1.1 Introduction: Enter the Ghost of Confucius 23
1.2 Confucianism in Contemporary China: Between Historical Value and
Present Interest 29
1.3 Excursus on Zhang Xianglong 44
1.4 Political Confucianism, Spiritual Confucianism, and the Politics
of Spirit 51
1.4.1 Jiang Qing’s Constitutional Reordering of Confucianism 51
1.4.2 Jiang Qing on Political vs. Spiritual Confucianism 54
1.4.3 The Institutional Dimension of Spiritual Confucianism 58
1.4.4 The Politics of Spirit: Tang Junyi and Mou Zongsan Encounter
Hegel and Marx
1.4.5 The Subject as Spirit, and Its Modern Discontents 81
1.4.6 Concluding Remarks 100
2 New Confucian Thought in the Context of Twentieth-Century Chinese
Intellectual History: Historical (Dis)continuity and Philosophy
2.1 Introduction: Culture and the Semantics of (Dis)continuity 104
2.2 New Confucianism and May Fourth: Spirit Against
Discontinuity 126
2.3 Modernity, Philosophy, and the Inheritance of Abstraction 144
2.3.1 Feng Youlan’s China’s Road to Freedom and his Method of
Abstract Inheritance
2.3.2 The New Confucian Critique of (Communist) Modernity 152
2.3.3 Philosophy and the Inheritance of Abstraction 180
3 Science, Philosophy, and Wisdom: The Modern Recategorization of
Knowledge and Conceptual Tensions in the Thought of Xiong Shili and
Tang Junyi
3.1 Introduction: The Differentiation of Science and Philosophy in the
1923 Debate on Science and Metaphysics and Its New Confucian
Aftermath 197
3.2 Conceptual Tensions in the Thought of Xiong Shili and Tang
Junyi 215
3.2.1 Husserl on Science, Philosophy, and Wisdom 215
3.2.2 The Tension between Identification and Differentiation in
Xiong’s and Tang’s Outlooks on Science (Knowledge) and
Philosophy (Wisdom)
3.2.3 Lopsided Identities in the Philosophy of Xiong Shili 234
3.2.4 The Sense of Transcendence and the Place for Spirit in the
Philosophy of Tang Junyi
4 The Philosophical Consequences of Modernity: Faultlines of History in
the Thought of Mou Zongsan
4.1 Introduction: Preliminary Remarks on Mou Zongsan’s Oeuvre and
His Relation to Kant 268
4.2 Mou’s Early Work on Logic and Epistemology: Criticism of Dialectical
Materialism and the Strategic Distance between Being and
Thought 276
4.3 Mou’s Double-Leveled Ontology: The Transcendental Distance
between Fact and Value in the Light of the Tension between History
and Thought 299
4.3.1 Mou and Wittgenstein on the Limits of the Sayable 299
4.3.2 Kant, Heidegger, Mou: Transcendental Subjectivity, Finitude,
and the Value of the Thing-in-Itself
4.3.3 The Dialectical Logic of Self-Negation in Mou’s Political
Philosophy: Social Mediation and the Formalization of the
Conclusion 348
Bibliography 357
Index 400


Scholars and students interested New Confucianism, modern Chinese intellectual history, contemporary Chinese and comparative philosophy, and anyone concerned with the problem of modernity in general.


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