Early Modern European Atheism with Chinese Characteristics: First Jesuit Descriptions of Neo-Confucianism and Their Spinozist Reception

  • Mateusz Janik


Janik’s chapter discusses an early-modern encounter between Spinozism and Neo-Confucian metaphysics. The chapter claims that early-modern atheism played the role of medium between these two philosophical discourses. The Jesuit sources discussed here show that the monist interpretations of Neo-Confucian philosophy and denunciation of atheism which have been attributed to Chinese authors and scholars prepared solid ground for the later linking of Chinese thought with Spinozism by such authors as Pierre Bayle or Nicolas Malebranche. Simultaneously, the interpretations of Spinozism as a doctrine analogous or similar to some of the intellectual currents encountered by the Jesuit missionaries in China served the polemical purpose of relocating Spinozism outside the corpus of European philosophical tradition.



This work was supported by the National Science Centre in Poland [Grant number: UMO-2019/31/D/HS1/00864].


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mateusz Janik
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Political StudiesPolish Academy of SciencesWarsawPoland
  2. 2.East China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina

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