Chinese Thought as Global Theory

Diversifying Knowledge Production in the Social Sciences and Humanities

Edited by Leigh Jenco

Subjects: Social Theory, Asian Studies, Asian Religion And Philosophy, Philosophy, History, Political Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9781438460444, 262 pages, January 2017
Hardcover : 9781438460451, 262 pages, June 2016

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Table of contents


Wang Gungwu

Introduction: On the Possibility of Chinese Thought as Global Theory
Leigh Jenco
Part I. Chinese Theory and the Conditions of Knowledge

1. Knowing How to Be: The Dangers of Putting (Chinese) Thought into Action
Gloria Davies

2. Grounding Normativity in Ritual: A Rereading of Confucian Texts
Takahiro Nakajima

3. Attitudes in Action: Maoism as Emotional Political Theory
Timothy Cheek

4. A (Psycho)Analysis of China’s New Nationalism
Guanjun Wu

Part II. Chinese Theories across Time and Space

5. New Communities for New Knowledge: Theorizing the Movement of Ideas across Space
Leigh Jenco
6. The Evolution and Identity of Confucianism: The Precedence Principle in Reforming Tradition
Chenyang Li

7. Being in Time: What Medieval Chinese Theorists Can Teach Us about Causation
Ignacio Villagran and Miranda Brown

8. China’s Present as the World’s Future: China and “Rule of Law” in a Post-Fordist World
Michael W. Dowdle

Appendix: Character List
List of Contributors

Using Chinese thought, explores how non-Western thought can structure generally applicable social and political theory.


With a particular focus on Chinese thought, this volume explores how, and under what conditions, so-called "non-Western" traditions of thought can structure generally applicable social and political theory. Reversing the usual comparison between "local" Chinese application and "universal" theory, the work demonstrates how Chinese experiences and ideas offer systematic insight into shared social and political dilemmas. Contributors discuss how medieval Chinese understandings of causal heterogeneity can relieve impasses within contemporary historiography, how current economic and social conditions in China respond proactively to the future configuration of world markets, and how hybrid modes of cross-cultural engagement offer new foundations for the enterprise of learning from cultural others. Each chapter works from Chinese perspectives to theorize the location of knowledge, its conditions of production, and the modes through which its content or adequacy is legitimated, challenged, and sustained. Rather than reproducing Eurocentric knowledge production in Chinese form, the mobilization of Chinese thought as a generally applicable body of theory actually breaks down clear boundaries between Chinese and non-Chinese thought.

Leigh Jenco is Associate Professor of Political Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is the author of Making the Political: Founding and Action in the Political Theory of Zhang Shizhao and Changing Referents: Learning Across Space and Time in China and the West.