“Is “Modern Confucianism” an Oxymoron?: Liang Shuming’s Attempt at Resolving the Tension between the Modern and Confucian Conceptions of Time during the New Culture Movement” by Philippe Major (1 Apr)

Confucianism can be seen as a tradition which is essentially nostalgic. To the socio-political instability of the Spring and Autumn period (春秋時代, 771-476 BC) at the end of which he lived, Confucius’ (孔子, 551-479 BC) response was to promote a return to the ways of the Zhou (周朝, 1046-771 BC). This, the gentleman-scholar had to achieve by studying and embodying the rites of the Zhou. Modernity, on the other hand, betrays a forward-looking mentality. Emancipation being posited as the telos of history, the modern individual must strive towards this goal by breaking free of the shackles of tradition.

How did modern Confucianism attempt at resolving the tension between the Confucian and modern conceptions of time? In this presentation, I will discuss Liang Shuming’s (梁漱溟, 1893-1988) work Eastern and Western Cultures and their Philosophies (東西文化及其哲學, 1921), which is often seen as the first work of philosophy produced by Modern Confucianism, and which I see as China’s first attempt at resolving the tension between the modern and Confucian conceptions of time emerging during the New Culture Movement (新文化運動, 1915-1927).

Graduate Seminar Series.
Date: Tuesday, 1 Apr 2014
Time: 2 pm – 3 pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3 #05-23)
Speaker: Philippe Major
Moderator: Nicholas Cai

About the Speaker:

PhilippeCROPPhilippe is a PhD student in the Philosophy department of the National University of Singapore. He holds a Master’s degree in History from National Taiwan University. His Master’s thesis consisted of a study of the consciousness of time of New Culture Movement (1915-1927) intellectuals such as Liang Shuming and Chen Duxiu, as well as the redefinition of modernity which was inherent in their views of time. His PhD dissertation will focus on how modern Confucian thinkers, whom inherited a tradition rooted in the idea that individual development is informed by, and achieved through, a given socio-historical context, reacted to a modern definition of the self which is to a great extent atomistic, being alienated from both community and tradition.

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