Universiteit Leiden

nl en


Can we overcome Orientalism with Multiculturalism? A Methodological Reflection on Asian and Comparative Philosophy

Thursday 23 February 2023
Leiden Lecture Series in Japanese Studies
On campus (Lipsius 1.21) and online via Zoom

Over the years, comparative philosophy has been scrutinized and criticized for its association with Orientalism, a colonial discourse that thrives on the oversimplified East-West dichotomy. Against the backdrop of the complicated history of comparative philosophy, I want to explore whether and how it is possible to go beyond the Orientalist dichotomy. To do so, I will first examine previous approaches employed by Max Müller and D.T. Suzuki in their comparative studies, which epitomize two types of Orientalism. Contextualizing their work in Europe during the late 1800s and in Japan in the early 1900s, I unpack how these Orientalist approaches end up perpetuating misrepresentation and oppression. I thus propose the both-and approach that enables us to reimagine comparative studies in a multicultural world in more interdisciplinary and inclusive manners. This is the approach with which I have experimented in my recent book Comparing Husserl’s Phenomenology and Chinese Yogācāra: A Journey beyond Orientalism. Through appreciating both the distinctiveness of each tradition in its own context for exploring their middle ground and their interconnectedness on a broader horizon for conversations and collaborations, I hope to discuss how our academic work can contribute to discursive redistribution and diverse representation of traditions and their cultures.

About the speaker

Jingjing Li is University Lecturer of Chinese and Comparative Philosophy at Leiden’s Institute for Philosophy. She has received her PhD at McGill University. Currently, she is working on previously overlooked resources in Chinese Buddhism to develop theories of transformative sociality and gender equality, under the auspices of NWO’s Veni grant.

Link to the lecture (Zoom)

This website uses cookies.  More information.