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Social Sciences, Humanities and Liberal Arts: China and the West

  • Liu Kang (a1) (a2)

Abstract

For the most part, modern China’s institutions and modes of knowledge have been shaped and predominantly influenced by the West. Since the modern Chinese knowledge system is an integral and inseparable part of that dominant western system, an immanent critique will view Chinese problems not as extraneous, but as intrinsic to modernity, to the world-system or globalization. This article traces the genealogy of modern European modes of knowledge under the rubrics of ‘liberal arts’, as the origin and basis for modern China’s institutions and modes of knowledge, and then examines China’s ‘liberal arts’ as institution and modes of knowledge from the early years of the twentieth century to the present. The paper’s objective is to question the relationship between (Eurocentric) universalism and Chinese exceptionalism within the dominant modern Western institutions and modes of knowledge today.

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