Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Elements of the Classical Chinese Thought in Philosophical Maoism of Alain Badiou

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.10.00  Humanities  Philosophy   

Code Science Field
H120  Humanities  Systematic philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, epistemology, ideology 

Code Science Field
6.03  Humanities  Philosophy, Ethics and Religion 
Badiou, Maoism, materialist dialectics, event, change
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (1)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  23508  PhD Katja Kolšek  Criminology and social work  Head  2012 - 2015  83 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  1510  Science and Research Centre Koper  Koper  7187416000  14,007 
The main goal of the present project is to carry out the research of potential influence of classical Chinese thought on the philosophy of Alain Badiou, through the analysis of his use and reflection upon some basic elements of Mao Zedong's understanding of material dialectics. The novelty, which this project brings, the relevance and the contribution to the scientific field of philosophy, is the use of our knowledge of Mandarin Chinese, Chinese history and culture to read Chinese philosophical texts in original language, and consequently better opportunity of a more exhaustive study of the required literature and the comparative perspective of two extremely different philosophical undertakings and traditions. The starting point of our project are the political and philosophical problems, which appeared in the face of the events of May 68' in France, as the result of great theoretical disagreement among leading French Marxists, gathered around the famous teacher Louis Althusser. In view of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China and the thought of Mao Zedong Alain Badiou decided to rethink the meaning of the materialist dialectics within the concrete historical conjuncture of May 68', especially as far as the relations between history and politics on one hand and knowledge and truth on the other hand are concerned. In the Book V of the latest work Logic of Worlds Badiou explicitly deals with a new theory of change, based on his specific conception of the notions of the world and the point. In Logic of Worlds Alain Badiou returnes to the stakes of his early Maoist theory of materialist dialectics. The novelty of our research project lies in the methodology, namely, in pursuing our final goal, we shall use of our knowledge of Chinese language to read the classical texts of Chinese philosophy in order to be able analyse the specificities of Mao Zedong’s Marxism and his understanding of materialist dialectics through the thorough analysis of his original Collected Works (Maozedong Wenji). With this knowledge we shall later on return to the work of Alain Badiou and research the possible existence of this elements in his philosophical Maoism in his works. We are however well aware of the several pitfalls of the main goal of our project. We would certainly first have to establish, whether or not the traditional Chinese dialectical thought has in any way influenced Mao Zedong's thought, his conception of materialist dialectics, and consequently his thinking of politics. To reach the main goal of our project we shall proceed in three separate stages: 1) Firstly, we shall sketch out the most central kernel of the Maoist materialist dialectic and politics, which persists throughout Alain Badiou's work. 2) Secondly, we shall study the main elements of Classical Chinese theory of dialectics (the so called »tong bian« tradition within the so called “bianzhengfa”) within Mao Zedong's theory of materialist dialectics through the study of his collected works in original Chinese language, in order to establish the eventual influence of Classical Chinese comprehension of the change or the transformation in the original text, the Book of Changes (Yijing) and large amount of its commentaries in the history of Chinese thought (Xici zhuan). We shall specifically focus one important aspect of the change (yi), the point of view of the relation between »the old and the new«. 3) Thirdly, through the two aforementioned axles of research, our final goal is to establish the amount and the content (elements) of the possible influence of Classical Chinese thought on the philosophical Maoism of Alain Badiou.
Significance for science
The meaning and the main contribution of the postdoctoral research project Elements of Classical Chinese Thought in Philosophical Maoism of Alain Badiou for the devloment of the science lies in the research of the crossroads of two diverse philosophical traditions (contemporary French philosophy and traditional Chinese philosophical tradition) in the example of the philosophy of dialectical materialism of Mao Zedong and its influence on the intellectual debate around the events of May 68' in France (more precisely, on early philosophical period of Alain Badiou), which metodologically as well as in terms of the content importantly contributes to the development of the intercultural research in the field of humanities. The project develops the method, which focuses on the contingency of the transfer of certain philosophical concepts or figures into another tradition and form of thought, and the mutual effects of this coincidence, for the tradition of the origin of the philosophical figure, and the tradition of thought of its goal. The project as such therefore essentially contributes to the analysis of the common elements of the return to the question of the materialist dialectic in Louis Althusser, Alain Badiou,a s well as Jacques Lacan, the three main intelectual figures in the aforementioned period in France, in particular the question of the transformation of the Hegelian dialectic, based on the concept of the scission, repetition (redoubling) and the passage. From the point of view of sinology, the project contributes to the knowledge of the influence of the main elements of the Chinese dialectical tradition, starting from the Book of Changes (Yi jing) on, on the philosophical writings of Mao Zedong, and on the tradition of sinicized Marxism in China. Simultaneously the project becomes, via the analysis of the reception and interpretation of Hegel's dialectic and logic in the work of Zhang Shiying, as the on of the most important influences on Badiou's own interpretation of Hegel, on the international scale of Chinese studies, a very interesting example of the impact of the question of translation and interpretation of Hegel's concepts on the general understanding of his philosophy within the modern and contemporary Chinese philosophy.
Significance for the country
The fundamental contribution of the project Elements of Classical Chinese Thought in Philosophical Maoism of Alain Badiou for Slovenian science is first of all the extension of the knowledge and work, within the already well developed field of the Badiouian studies in Slovenija, on his early philosophical period, the so called »red years«, (such as Recommencement of the Dialectical Materialism (1967) , Theory of Contradiction (1975), The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic (1978), and above all The Theory of Subject (1982), as well as in his later work, in Logics of Worlds. Being and Event II (2009) as part of the intellectual scene of the events of May 68' in France. With a special intercultural research of the elements of the traditional Chinese dialectic on the work of Badiou, develops new trends of intercultural methodology in Chinese studies in Slovenija. The research project also directly conributes to the development of the Slovenian sinology, since with the question of the reception of the Hegelian dialectic in China (via Zhang Shiying's work), it opens the new field of research and connection of the Slovenian sinologist with the international exeperts on the topic, since it instigated an idea to organize a symposium (University of Ljubljana, FAculty of Arts, Department of Asian and African Studies) on the question of the reception of Hegel's philosophy in China.
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