pp 1–18 | Cite as

The Politics of Writing Chinese Philosophy: Xiong Shili’s New Treatise on the Uniqueness of Consciousness and the “Crystallization of Oriental Philosophy”

  • Philippe MajorEmail author


This article situates Xiong Shili’s 熊十力 classic work New Treatise on the Uniqueness of Consciousness (Xin Weishi Lun 新唯識論, 1932) within the central dilemma of post-May Fourth China surrounding the concerns with so-called modern universalism and Chinese particularism. I look at the way the text portrays its author as situated both within particular traditions and outside of them (in a realm of universality) in order to show how the figure of the author is presented as a site wherein Chinese/Asian particularism and universalism can be fused. My central aim, in doing so, is to argue that within the text’s discourse on the positioning of its author resides an implicit argument for the universality of Chinese or Asian philosophy—as interpreted and subsumed by the text—and against the hegemonic intentions of Western philosophy. Yet I also suggest that the text reiterates a conception of universality and an intention to monopolize the universal which are characteristic of hegemonic discourses.


Xiong Shili 熊十力 New Treatise on the Uniqueness of Consciousness New Confucianism Chinese philosophy Asian philosophy Hegemony 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



I would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers, whose comments greatly contributed to improving this article; Carine Defoort, who made valuable comments on a previous draft of this essay; and John Makeham, whose comments on my doctoral dissertation were of great help in improving this article and avoiding the reproduction of an important mistake in translation.


  1. Brière, S. J. O. 1979. Fifty Years of Chinese Philosophy, 1898–1950. Trans. by Laurence G. Thompson. Westport: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  2. Chang, Hao. 1987. Chinese Intellectuals in Crisis: Search for Order and Meaning (1890–1911). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  3. Chen, Yongjie 陳永傑. 2015. An Examination into the Modern New Confucian Views on Intuition: The Cases of L iang Shuming, F eng Youlan, X iong Shili, and H e Lin 現代新儒家直覺觀考察——以梁漱溟、馮友蘭、熊十力、賀麟為中心. Shanghai 上海: Dongfang Shudian 東方書店.Google Scholar
  4. Cohen, Paul A. 1984. Discovering History in China: American Historical Writing on the Recent Chinese Past. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cole, Alan. 2015. Fetishizing Tradition: Desire and Reinvention in Buddhist and Christian Narratives. Albany: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  6. Guo, Qiyong 郭齊勇. 1988. X iong Shili and Traditional Chinese Culture 熊十力與中國傳統文化. Hong Kong 香港: Tiandi 天地.Google Scholar
  7. ______. 1994. A Scholar between Heaven and Earth: A Biography of X iong Shili 天地間一個讀書人: 熊十力傳. Taipei 台北: Yeqiang Chubanshe 業強出版社.Google Scholar
  8. Laclau, Ernesto. 1996. Emancipation(s). London, New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  9. Levenson, Joseph R. 1972. Confucian China and Its Modern Fate: A Trilogy. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Liu, Shu-hsien. 2003a. Essentials of Contemporary Neo-Confucian Philosophy. Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  11. ______. 2003b. “Xiong Shili (Hsiung Shih-li).” In Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy, edited by A. S. Cua. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Major, Philippe. 2017a. “Is ‘Modern Confucianism’ an Oxymoron? Textual Authority and the Early New Confucian Response to the Modern Tradition of Anti-Traditionalism.” PhD diss., National University of Singapore.Google Scholar
  13. ______. 2017b. “Rethinking the Temporalization of Space in Early Republican China: Liang Shuming’s Eastern and Western Cultures and Their Philosophies.” International Communication of Chinese Culture 4.2: 171–185.Google Scholar
  14. Makeham, John. 2011. “The Role of Masters Studies in the Early Formation of Chinese Philosophy as an Academic Discipline.” In Learning to Emulate the Wise: The Genesis of Chinese Philosophy as an Academic Discipline in Twentieth-Century China, edited by John Makeham. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.Google Scholar
  15. ______. 2013. “The Significance of Xiong Shili’s Interpretation of Dignāga’s Ālambana-parīkṣā (Investigation of the Object).” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 40.5: 205–225.Google Scholar
  16. ______. 2014. “Xiong Shili’s Critique of Yogācāra Thought in the Context of His Constructive Philosophy.” In Transforming Consciousness: Yogācāra Thought in Modern China, edited by John Makeham. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. ______. 2015. “Translator’s Introduction.” See Xiong 2015, i–lxviii.Google Scholar
  18. ______. 2017 “Xiong Shili on Why Reality Cannot Be Sought Independent of Phenomena.” Sophia 56.3: 501–517.Google Scholar
  19. Ng, Yu-kwan. 2003. “Xiong Shili’s Metaphysical Theory about the Non-Separability of Substance and Function.” In New Confucianism: A Critical Examination, edited by John Makeham. New York: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  20. Rošker, Jana. 2008. Searching for the Way: Theory of Knowledge in Pre-Modern and Modern China. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Tan, Sor-hoon. 2009. “Contemporary Neo-Confucian Philosophy.” In History of Chinese Philosophy, edited by Bo Mou. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Tu, Wei-ming. 1976. “Hsiung Shih-li’s Quest for Authentic Existence.” In The Limits of Change: Essays on Conservative Alternatives in Republican China, edited by Charlotte Furth. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Wang, Kun 王錕. 2006. Confucius and Twentieth-Century Chinese Thought 孔子與二十世紀中國思想. Ji’nan 濟南: Qilu Shushe 齊魯書社.Google Scholar
  24. Wu, Longcan. 2016. “Xiong Shili: A Founder of Contemporary New Confucianism.” Confucian Academy 3.1: 148–159.Google Scholar
  25. Xiao, Jiefu 蕭萐父, ed. 2001. The Complete Works of X iong Shili 熊十力全集, 10 vols. Wuhan 武漢: Hubei Jiaoyu Chubanshe 湖北教育出版社.Google Scholar
  26. Xiong, Shili 熊十力. 2001a. Important Remarks of X iong Shili 十力語要. See Xiao 2001, vol. 4, 1–554.Google Scholar
  27. ______. 2001b. New Treatise on the Uniqueness of Consciousness: Classical Chinese Edition 新唯識論 (文言文本). See Xiao 2001, vol. 2, 1–149.Google Scholar
  28. ______. 2001c. New Treatise on the Uniqueness of Consciousness: Vernacular Edition 新唯識論 (語體文本). See Xiao 2001, vol. 3, 1–549.Google Scholar
  29. ______. 2015. New Treatise on the Uniqueness of Consciousness. Trans. by John Makeham. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Yu, Jiyuan. 2002. “Xiong Shili’s Metaphysics of Virtue.” In Contemporary Chinese Philosophy, edited by Chung-Ying Cheng and Nicholas Bunnin. Malden: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  31. Žižek, Slavoj. 1999. The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology. London, New York: Verso.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for European Global StudiesUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations