Chinese Visions of Progress, 1895 to 1949 offers a panoramic view of reflections on progress in modern China. Since the turn of the twentieth century, the discourses on progress shape Chinese understandings of modernity and its pitfalls. As this in-depth study shows, these discourses play a pivotal role in the fields of politics, society, culture, as well as philosophy, history, and literature. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that the Chinese ideas of progress, their often highly optimistic implications, but also the criticism of modernity they offered, opened the gateway for reflections on China’s past, its position in the present world, and its future course.
The essays in
Powerful Arguments reconstruct the standards of validity underlying argumentative practices in a wide array of late imperial Chinese discourses, from the Song through the Qing dynasties. The fourteen case studies analyze concrete arguments defended or contested in areas ranging from historiography, philosophy, law, and religion to natural studies, literature, and the civil examination system. By examining uses of evidence, habits of inference, and the criteria by which some arguments were judged to be more persuasive than others, the contributions recreate distinct cultures of reasoning. Together, they lay the foundations for a history of argumentative practice in one of the richest scholarly traditions outside of Europe and add a chapter to the as yet elusive global history of rationality.
Chen Guying’s Laozi dissects different versions of the Laozi and provides close readings of traditional and contemporary commentaries, from Han Fei, Wang Bi, and Heshang Gong through to Shi Deqing, Xu Kangsheng and Ding Yuanzhi. This book completely changed Laozi studies in China, where no serious student or scholar can ignore Chen’s amazing work. It is the standard interpretation of the Laozi at nearly every Chinese university.
The English translation provided here seeks to accurately reflect the detail of Chen’s meticulous work by providing multiple English translations of key characters, allowing the reader to follow complex Sinological arguments. The close “word-for-character” translation of the Laozi text enables scholars to interact with the Laozi on a level previously unavailable in English.
The Culture of Love in China and Europe Paolo Santangelo and Gábor Boros offer a survey of the cults of love developed in the history of ideas and literary production in China and Europe between the 12th and early 19th century. They describe parallel evolutions within the two cultures, and how innovatively these independent civilisations developed their own categories and myths to explain, exalt but also control the emotions of love and their behavioural expressions. The analyses contain rich materials for comparison, point out the universal and specific elements in each culture, and hint at differences and resemblances, without ignoring the peculiar beauty and attractive force of the texts cultivating love.
Confucianism and Reflexive Modernity offers an excellent example of a dialogue between East and West by linking post-Confucian developments in East Asia to a Western idea of reflexive modernity originally proposed by Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens, and Scott Lash in 1994. The author makes a sharp confrontation with the paradigm of Asian Value Debate led by Lee Kwan-Yew and defends a balance between individual empowerment and flourishing community for human rights, basically in line with Juergen Habermas, but in the context of global risk society, particularly from an enlightened perspective of Confucianism. The book is distinguished by sophisticated theoretical reflection, comparative reasoning, and solid empirical argument concerning Asian identity in transformation and the aspects of reflexive modernity in East Asia.