From seeking legitimacy to participating in legislation
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The issue of the "legitimacy of Chinese philosophy," i.e. whether China had its own philosophical tradition, has haunted scholars in the field of traditional Chinese thought for over a century. They have been struggling with the dilemma of either being excluded from philosophy and situate themselves in "area studies" or "religious studies," or have to twist and cannibalize traditional Chinese thought according to the Western conceptual framework in order for it to be recognized as legitimate philosophy. This paper intends to call attention to the fact that the issue emerged only after the West becamea dominating material power in the world. Like other concepts, "philosophy" is also a historical notion subject to change. Along with the rise of China as a global economic power, China will inevitably exert far-reaching political and cultural influences in the world, and the world will have to pay serious attention to the philosophical root of Chinese culture. The historical background upon which the issue of the "legitimacy of Chinese philosophy" was raised as a meaningful question has started to fade. In its place will emerge an era in which traditional Chinese thought becomes one of the "legislators" of philosophy.
The 4th World Forum on China Studies
Ni, Peimin, "From seeking legitimacy to participating in legislation" (2010). Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants. Paper 21.
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