Daoism and Capitalism


Daoism is philosophical, political and devotional movement that emerged in early China as a critique of Confucian orthodoxy. At a crucial point in the development of the critique of political economy in the 20th and 21st centuries, a diverse array of thinkers converged upon Daoism as the image of an anti-authoritarian, non-coercive, and counter-governmental alternative to state power. Bringing together experts from sociology, political theory, cultural theory, German literary studies, philosophy, and Jewish studies to examine the composite image of ancient and modern China in contemporary political economy, this event engages with a little known, but geopolitically consequential lynchpin in the work of Max Weber, Walter Benjamin, and their interpreters. Exploring their interconnections and ramifications for the first time, the lectures grapple with how Daoism is integrated within the political economy of modern China, and within our understanding of political economy as a whole.

Podcasts in this series

Benjamin, Studying, China

Peter Fenves

Peter Fenves is Professor of German, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies at Northwestern University. He has written extensively on Walter Benjamin, contemporary critical thought, and the German philosophical and literary tradition since 1750. He is the author of A Peculiar Fate: Metaphysics and World-History in Kant (Cornell UP, 1991), "Chatter": Language and History in Kierkegaard (Stanford UP, 1993), Arresting Language: From Leibniz to Benjamin (Stanford UP, 2001), and Late Kant: Towards Another Law of the Earth (Routledge, 2003); and most recently The Messianic Reduction: Walter Benjamin and the Shape of Time (Stanford UP, 2010), which includes the first English translations of two texts Benjamin wrote under the title of "The Rainbow."

Tue, 10 Mar 15 0

Ten Thousand Things: Multiplicity without Identity

Scott Lash

Scott Lash is Professor of Cultural Studies and Sociology at Goldsmiths, where he researches on social and cultural theory, technological media, and the Chinese city. Most recently he is the co-author (with Michael Keith, Jakob Arnoldi and Tyler Rooker) of China Constructing Capitalism: Economic Life and Urban Change (Routledge, 2014), and author of Intensive Culture: Religion and Social Theory in Contemporary Culture (Sage, 2010).

Tue, 10 Mar 15 0

The Question of the Political

Michael Dutton

Michael Dutton is Professor of Politics at Goldsmiths, where he specialises in contemporary social and cultural theory as pertaining specifically to China. He is the author of Beijing Time (Harvard UP, 2008), Policing Chinese Politics: A History (Duke UP, 2005), and Streetlife China (Cambridge UP, 1998).

Tue, 10 Mar 15 0

De l’être au vivre [In French and English]

Francois Julien

François Jullien is Professor of Philosophy at Paris 7 (Denis Diderot). He has written extensively on the intersection of sinology and philosophy, departing from studies of ancient Chinese thought, neo-Confucianism and literary and aesthetic concepts of classical Chinese to re-examine the history and categories operative in Western thought. He is most recently the author of Cette étrange idée du beau (Grasset, Paris, 2010); L’invention de l’idéal et le destin de l’Europe (Seuil, Paris, 2009) ; De l’universel, de l’uniforme, du commun et du dialogue entre les cultures (Fayard, Paris 2008) and Chemin faisant, connaître la Chine ou relancer la philosophie (Seuil, Paris, 2006); and his latest book, De l'être au vivre, Lexique euro-chinois de la pensée will appear this month with Gallimard.

Tue, 10 Mar 15 0