A Conversation between Wang Min’an and Zhang Xu on Continental Philosophy

2:00–6:00 pm

Dec.
9

The Center hosted a public forum on December 8, 2016, titled "A Dialogue Between Wang Min'an (Capital Normal University) and Zhang Xu (Renmin University of China) on Continental Philosophy in China".  The forum was moderated by Professor Geng Youzhuang from Renmin University of China. The Center director, Professor Judith Farquhar, initiated this very successful forum, which drew quite a large audience.

The dialogue started with the question proposed by Professor Geng who asked, "what do you, as Chinese scholars, take to be the relationship between continental philosophy and ‘Enlightenment’? In answering this question, Wang Min'an pointed out that Enlightenment emphasizes reason, rules, and development, while continental philosophers started with a critique of Reason, in strong reaction against Enlightenment values. But he also argued that Foucault, in his essay "What is Enlightenment", read enlightenment in a positive light instead of lodging a simple criticism.  Zhang Xu situated this question in the Chinese context by laying out four important figures of "continental philosophy", who had been introduced into China since the 1980s and all of whom had made great impact on the Chinese academy at different times. According to Zhang, these philosophers were Heidegger in the 1980s, Max Weber in the late 1980s, Foucault in the 1990s, together with post-modernism and post-colonialism, and Leo Strauss after September 11, 2001. And all four of them were influenced by Nietzsche, who was the most radical critic of Enlightenment, Zhang also noted. Wang Min'an responded by arguing that he disagreed about Strauss because he didn't think Strauss had been as influential as the other three European thinkers, while Zhang Xu insisted that Strauss had inspired Chinese scholars to go back to their "pre-modern" forebears, which tendency could explain why post-colonialism theory hasn't been well accepted in mainland China, unlike in Japan and Korea. Zhang argued that a tracing of Chinese thinking back to the pre-modern era could be directly connected to the contemporary "National Studies fever", and this in turn can also be considered an alternative project to post-colonial studies, perhaps seen as an effort toward a renewed self-enlightenment.

Other topics included the Chinese impulse toward the study of Western philosophy since the Opium War of 1840, and the radical break from tradition in the 1919 May Fourth Movement, the "wholesale westernization" tendencies of the 1980s, and the trend of "returning to Chinese philosophy" in recent years. In the Q&A session, there were also heated discussions of post-structuralism and phenomenology, and on universality and singularity. The forum was concluded successfully in two and half hours.

 

2016年12月9日下午,受芝加哥大学北京中心主任冯珠娣邀请,由中国人民大学耿幼壮教授主持、首都师范大学汪民安与中国人民大学张旭教授以“欧陆哲学在当代中国”为题做了一次对话式的公开论坛,吸引了许多观众前来听讲并参与讨论。

对话以耿幼壮教授提出“如何看待欧陆哲学与启蒙的关系”这一问题开始。汪民安和张旭分别做了精彩的回答,汪民安首先从哲学史的角度梳理了二者的关系,启蒙强调理性、规则、发展,而欧陆哲学则重在批评理性,是对启蒙的反动;同时他也指出福柯在“什么是启蒙”中,对启蒙是持积极态度的。张旭则举出80年代以来在中国学界最有影响力的四位欧美学者,认为这几个重要人物可以标识出几个不同的阶段,同时这几位也都受到尼采(作为反启蒙的代表)的影响。他们是:80年代的海德格尔;80年代后期,马克思韦伯的社会理论;90年代的福柯,也与后现代主义和后殖民主义理论被介绍到中国相关;进入20世纪,911事件之后美国新保守主义兴起是一个分水岭,此时列奥施特劳斯的政治哲学被引入中国,虽然施特劳斯并不在欧洲,但是他的理论来源是卡尔施密特、尼采、韦伯、卡尔巴特、海德格尔,因此张旭依然将其归为“欧陆哲学家”。(不过汪民安教授认为此人相当小众,不同意将他作为代表人物)。施特劳斯为中国思想界提供了一个回到“前现代”的启示,这有助于理解为什么后殖民理论在中国的引介无法与其在日本、韩国的接受度相比。走“前现代”的道路,与当今的国学热直接相关,也是对现代性反思、力图走出一个”另类现代性“的努力,尤其最近15年力图重建儒家文化,张旭教授认为这是对后殖民主义的替代性方案,是新的自我启蒙的过程。

之后在耿幼壮教授的引导下,两位学者继续就1840年鸦片战争、1895年甲午战争以来中国知识分子对西方哲学的研究冲动、五四以来对传统研究的断层、80年代的全盘西化,乃至现在对中国传统哲学思想的回归等一系列议题做出了讨论。对话之后现场观众积极提问,涉及到后结构主义与现象学、普遍性与单一性的统一等当代哲学问题,论坛在热烈的讨论中圆满结束。