Concepts in Motion – Rethinking the Dynamics of Change and Changing Dynamics in Early Chinese Thought, Politics, and Intellectual Culture

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Concepts in Motion – Rethinking the Dynamics of Change and Changing Dynamics in Early Chinese Thought, Politics, and Intellectual Culture
Stream: Philosophy
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Authors:
Lisa Indraccolo, University of Zurich, Switzerland (organizer, presenter)
Andrew Meyer, Brooklyn College, United States (presenter)
Masayuki Sato, National Taiwan University, Taiwan (presenter)
Vincent Leung, Lingnan University, Hong Kong (presenter)
Constance Cook, Lehigh University, United States (chair)
Shirley Chan, Macquarie University, Australia (discussant)

Abstract:

In early Chinese sources, the multifaceted concept of “change” is at the core of a pervasive intellectual discourse (Cheng 2003). Emphasis is placed on its relationship with time and, consequently, on situational adaptivity, timeliness and appropriateness of moral or political action (Hon 2003; Huang & Henderson 2006). The proposed panel explores the dynamics of discontinuity in pre-imperial and early imperial China, focusing on historical and socio-political change at the macro-level, and moral or psychological change within an individual at the micro-level, and their mutual entanglements (Puett 2001). It aims to disambiguate different types of “change” studying the evolution in their conceptualizations across the ages in different kinds of sources, including historiographical records, dynastic histories, and philosophical “Masters” texts. The panel brings together both junior and senior experts in different disciplines – history, philosophy, intellectual and conceptual history. The panelists approach the issue from different angles. Andrew Meyer explores the re-reading of the past through ideologically-informed interpretations of historical change; Masayuki Sato explores the concepts of biàn 變, huà 化, and chéng 誠 in the Xúnzǐ 荀子 and the Zhōngyōng 中庸 from a contrastive perspective; Vincent Leung addresses historical change and the rhetoric of discontinuity in the political program of the Hánfēizǐ 韩非子; Lisa Indraccolo focuses on the socio-political aspects of two distinctive terms for “change” (tōng 通 and biàn 變). It is hoped that the panel will bring fresh insights to our understanding of the intellectual dynamics of change in early Chinese thought.