Chinese Thought in Early German Enlightenment from Leibniz to Goethe

Abortive Approaches to Transcultural Understanding


This book is a philosophical-historical examination of the influence of the knowledge of China imparted by the Jesuits on the thinking of the German Enlightenment in the 18th century. It is not primarily concerned with a comprehensive reconstruction of the philosophy of the thinkers discussed, but rather with the political and intellectual contextualisation of a line of thought that recognised the practical philosophy and state organisation of China as different from that of Europe, while equal to it and in some respects superior to it. This challenged the claim of theology that Christian revelation alone provided access to truth. The volume analyses the opposition to this line of thought, especially on the part of Protestant orthodoxy. It argues that in the German Enlightenment of the 18th century, the possibility emerged to conceive philosophy on the basis of reason as a phenomenon not limited to Europe but as a path followed under different conditions in China.

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Břetislav Horyna, Professor of Philosophy, received his degree from Palacký University in Olomouc in 2001. His most important books include Introduction to Religious Studies (1994), Philosophy of the Last Years before the End of Philosophy (1998), History of Early Romanticism. Fichte - Schlegel - Novalis (2005), Kritik der religionswissenschaftlichen Vernunft. Plädoyer für eine empirisch fundierte Theorie und Methodologie (2011), Capital: the Myth of a Word. Political Essays (2014) and The End of Metaphysics and the Reason to Think. Blumenberg's Care of Reason (2021).
Series Editor
Jon Stewart, Slovak Academy of Sciences

Assistant Editors
Alina Feld, York College—City University of New York
Peter Mango, Holy Apostles College & Seminary

Advisory Board
Hasana Sharp, McGill University, Canada
Nassim Bravo, Universidad Panamericana, Aguascalientes, Mexico
Mélissa Fox-Muraton, ESC Clermont/University Clermont Auvergne, France
István Czakó, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Hungary

Editorial address:
Dr. Jon Stewart
Institute of Philosophy
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Klemensova 19
813 64 Bratislava, Slovak Republic
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Specialists in the fields of philosophy, history, humanities, sinology, political science, geopolitics and geo-economics; students and post-graduate from all these fields; public officials interested in the history of relations with China.
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