Oddelek za azijske študije

Department of Asian Studies

The problem of freedom, humanism and the human subject in intercultural perspective: Europe and Taiwan

Fundacija Chiang Ching-kuo - raziskovalni projekt RG001-N-23

The problem of freedom, humanism and the human subject in intercultural perspective: Europe and Taiwan // 跨文化視域下自由、人文主義與人的主體性問題研究:聚焦歐洲與台灣

Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Research Project RG001-N-23

Funded by:

Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange
No. 303, Bei'an road, Jhongshan district, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC
Tel: 886-2-2704-5333
Fax: 886-2-2701-6762
E-mail: cckf@ms1.hinet.net

Project Director:
Assist. Prof. Téa Sernelj, University of Ljubljana
沙德亞助教授, 盧布爾雅那大學

Project Co-director:
prof. Huang Kuan-min, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
黃冠閔教授, 台灣中央研究院


The proposed project aims to examine the concept of human subjectivity through the lens of transcultural perspectives. In contrasting different culturally conditioned images and conceptions of human subjectivity shaped in the European and Chinese traditions, the research project seeks possible conceptual syntheses that meet the demands of our contemporary globalised times. The concepts of autonomous subject and humanism, rooted in European enlightenment, are currently experiencing a profound crisis, for in their present form, they no longer correspond to the transformed conditions of the present. Therefore, the proposed research project aims to set them into a contrastive and dialectical relation with similar ideational heritages from Chinese culture. The understanding of Chinese and Taiwanese philosophical theory is relevant not only because the Sinophone areas belong to the economic and political superpowers of the present world, but also because their cultural heritages can enrich and improve contemporary ethical and political theories, for the moral-ethical aspects of the Self and its autonomy were always in the centre of classical Chinese philosophical discourses. Hence, the illumination of discussions on relational models of Self and their positioning into the frameworks of the so-called transformative or integral subject, which can be found in traditional Chinese and contemporary Taiwanese philosophy, can show us new ways of revitalizing and renovating the postmodern subject, the autonomy of which is – due to its own dispersion – continuously and persistently falling apart. The proposed research will focus on the political, ethical and aesthetic significance of these paradigms of subjectivity. This will be performed by exploring their potential for a reconceptualization of ideational bases for modern integration politics and new forms of democracy.

The proposed project will explore ancient, classical and pre-modern conceptualizations of the Chinese notion of the Self and clarify the ideational, political, economic and historical background of the specific “relational Self” (關係自我), which manifests itself in the social system of relationalism (關係主義) and is defined by the so-called “role ethics”. These concepts will be structurally connected with the relation between the transcendental and empirical subject, which is integrated in the traditional complementary interaction between the so-called “internal sage and external ruler” (内聖外王) and “double subjectivity” (雙重主體性). While the latter two notions were developed and interpreted within the scope of Modern New Confucianism in Taiwan in the 20th century, the project will extensively focus on the recent investigations into traditional Daoist philosophical and aesthetic discourses conducted by contemporary Taiwanese philosophers and their interpretations of the integral (整體主體), transformative (轉化主體), and energetic-corporeal (氣論主體) subject.

On the basis of the aforementioned conceptualizations, the project will carry out a contrastive analysis of the various concepts of intersubjectivity in the two main discourses addressed within this project. In this context, we will focus upon the differences and parallels between the paradigms of normative-agreement and (co)humaneness (ren仁). The central aim of the research project hence lies in the systematic analysis and interpretation of the abovementioned philosophical conceptualizations through the lens of the notion of the subject, in a critical introduction of the research results to a broader Western academic readership and in their implementation into the topical discourses of international theory. The Chiang Ching-Kuo foundation research project grant would help me to broaden, deepen, and develop my research interests and thus also enhance the international visibility of Taiwanese scholarship. The project will be carried out with the proposed project co-director Professor Huang Kuan-min from Academia Sinica, who is an expert in comparative and intercultural philosophy.