Lecture of Kim Ong-Van-Cung (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne) on "Leibniz and the Natural Theology of the Chinese. An Example of the Complex Relationship between Asian and Western Thought".

Abstract: In this lecture, I wish to offer a reading of Leibniz’s Discourse on the Natural Theology of the Chinese. What is, according to Leibniz, the “proper meaning” of the Chinese philosophical doctrine? Most likely the one able to reconcile Confucianism with “our ordinary scholastic notions”. His “perspectivism” and philosophy of real entities (force, entelechy, spiritual substances, monads) seems the best candidate to harmonize a disagreement that is more apparent than real. We shall see that Leibniz philosophical endeavor consists in an effort of translation, or rather of transposition, of the Chinese notions (li, principle, ki or ch’i matter-energy, but also taiki, principle as first origin of the cosmos or total mass of energy at the origin of the universe, containing in itself a principle of organization) in the notions of his own metaphysical conception. I wish to compare Leibniz’s interpretations with the analysis deployed by contemporary sinology (especially, Jacques Gernet, Léon Vandermeersch, Anne Cheng) to explain the notions of li in Chinese thought. My question is how can we characterize Leibniz’s conception of cultural exchange?

Date: 5th May 15:00, Budapest

Venue: Institute of Philosophy, Research Centre for the Humanities, 1097 Budapest, Tóth Kálmán str. 4., 7th floor