Xiong Shili's Understanding of Reality and Function during the Period between 1920 and 1937

Xiong Shili 熊十力 (1885-1968) was one of the most influential Chinese philosophers of the twentieth century. He is generally considered a founding figure of New Confucianism. Xiong's metaphysics focussed mainly on the concepts of Reality (ti 體) and Function (yong 用), one of the key conceptual polarities in traditional Chinese philosophy. His mature philosophical system of Reality and Function was established in the early 1930s. It receives its most prominent articulation in Xiong's 1932 work, Xin weishi lun 新唯識論 (New Treatise on the Uniqueness of Consciousness). So scholars have tended to focus on this mature stage of Xiong's philosophy while overlooking its early development. Yet Xiong established his system of Reality and Function gradually between 1920 and 1937. He strengthened and further illuminated his ideas over several years after he had initially established his system. This early period was therefore key to Xiong's life and thought. Clarifying Xiong's understanding of Reality and Function at this time provides a better basis from which to understand later developments in his whole philosophical system. In this seminar, I will introduce Xiong's understanding of Reality and Function between 1920 and 1937. I will pay particular attention to how Xiong's thought changed during this period, and to the sources on which he drew to elucidate his ideas.

About the speaker

Sang Yu is a PhD scholar in the School of Culture, History and Language, ANU. She is in the final stages of completing a thesis on the philosophy of Xiong Shili. She holds an MA from the University of Sydney (2012).

After the seminar

All attendees are invited to join us in the CIW Tea House for informal discussion with the guest speaker after the seminar. With the consent of speakers, seminars are recorded and made publicly available through the Seminar Series' website to build an archive of research on the Sinophone world.
The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the China Institute and the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University's College of Asia & the Pacific.