Prof. Edward Wang (Rowan University, New Jersey, and Beijing University):

The Persistent Appeal of Intellectual History in China: A Preliminary Observation/Explanation

Hybrid Lecture in cooperatin with ISB (Institut für soziale Bewegung) / RUB


After AREA Co-Director Prof. Nele Noesselt (UDE) & AREA Deputy Co-Director Prof. Christine Moll-Murata had welcomed the audience, the speaker and around 40 participants learned about a multitude of intellectual history (Geistesgeschichte) in China.

The lecture emphasized the constant high relevance of Chinese intellectual history, which Prof. Wang denies to the same in the Western world, at least for the post-war period. He justifies this constant pre-eminence of Chinese intellectual history in a tradition of “intellectual fundamentalism”, which has always proved to be an effective instrument for overcoming crises in changing times.

The lively discussion that followed among, the mostly professorial, participants then dealt with questions such as whether modern Chinese historians are really concerned with intellectual history or whether the investigations are not based more on political and nationalistic motives? Or to what extend the presented research approaches in intellectual history can be classified as specifically Chinese, although much of the ideas and approaches were taken over from Western literature? Afterwards a discussion about the mutual influence of thought in China and the West ensued. The audience agreed that this was not a one-way street, but that movements and thinkers in the West were also repeatedly influenced by Chinese ideas. Maoism was mentioned as an example, which had made big waves for example inn Germany and France.