Questioning Modernity

QM_Poster-001Questioning Modernity 質問現代性
Critical Engagement with Western Knowledge in Late Imperial and Republican China
Centre for Modern East Asian Studies/Göttingen, Institute of Modern History/Academia Sinica
Nov. 22 to 24. 2013

Conference Theme
Over the past 20 years, the development of modern knowledge in China has been a focus of much research. Core topics of debate have included whether the late Ming-early Qing period already contained indigenous elements of modern science; that is, the relative weight and importance of internal traditions and their dynamic developments vis-à-vis external, mostly Western factors. Many projects have focused on the reception of Western academic and scientific terms, and identifying sources, avenues and processes of the reception and refraction of Western knowledge in its interaction with indigenous knowledge systems. An aspect of modern knowledge in China, however, that has not been researched sufficiently so far is the range of critical engagement with modern knowledge and its underlying worldviews and values. “Critical engagement” here refers to comprehending and evaluating modern knowledge through processes that are simultaneously located within modern knowledge systems (as is inevitable) and yet located at positions that offer a certain, “critical” distance, allowing for new and possibly creative perspectives.  Critical engagement thus not only refers to conservative reactions against modernity or aspects of modernity, but also to engagements with modern Western concepts that challenge certain core elements of modernity without rejecting change altogether.

在過去的二十年裡,現代知識在中國的發展已經成為眾多研究的焦點。研究論辯的核心課題,包括明末清初此一時期是否已經具有了發展現代科學的本土質 素。也就是說,相較於外在的、大多屬於西方的因素,相對重視內在傳統及其充滿活力之發展的重要性。許多研究計畫關注的是西方學術與科學語彙的容受,辨明西 學與本土的知識體系在互動之中,造就接納和轉化的知識傳入來源、途徑與過程。然而到目前為止,現代知識在中國仍有一個面相尚未得到充分注意,也就是針對西 學與其根本的世界觀和價值觀的批判性交涉及其範圍。「批判性交涉」在此指的是理解並評估現代知識,此一過程既是不可避免地存在於現代知識體 系之內,同時又處於一個足以提供「批判性」的距離,從而容許嶄新的、甚或是創造性的視野。因此,批判性交涉指的不僅僅是對於現代性(或現代性的某些面相) 的保守反應,而是針對現代西方概念的交涉與介入,在並未全盤排斥變革的前提下,挑戰某些現代性的核心要素。