Universiteit Leiden

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Research Meeting Cultural Production and Early Modernity Matters

Wednesday 11 December 2019
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 3
2311 BZ Leiden
Verbarium, 1.04

1. Animals as Exemplars: Preferences, Immediacy and Morality in Classical Chinese Thought by Douglas Berger

In a number of contemporary scholarly receptions of classical Chinese philosophy, one thing that appeals to many scholars is a strong "naturalistic" tendency to closely identify awareness with physiological and environmental processes. These "naturalistic" commitments strike many scholars of today as strikingly "modern."  While this "naturalistic" understanding of early Chinese thought has been importantly contested and qualified, this presentation will explore some exceptional cases from the Han to the Song Dynasties in which animals are identified by certain philosophical texts as exemplars for human awareness and conduct.  While there certainly existed depreciating depictions of animals in ancient China, particularly among early Confucians, there were notable and fascinating exceptions.  We will examine the Zhuangzi, the Linji Yu Lu and Zhu Xi's works in order to explore how animals are invoked by Chinese philosophers of different schools and periods in order to model certain lessons about "equality," immediacy of experience and even morality. 

2. Eighteenth-Century Prussian and French Readings of Tang Political Advice Literature by Hilde De Weerdt

How did Tang Emperor Taizong become "a model for all monarchs on planet earth" and his advisor, Wei Zheng, an imaginary interlocutor in French court politics? In this presentation I will trace the circulation of Tang mirror literature in early modern Europe and its effects.

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