The Western Classics in Modern China

Social Science Research Building, Room 122

Chinese scholarly interest in the canonical texts of the West has increased on a pace with their recent economic development.  But what they are reading, and what sense they make of it, would surprise many a western Classicist.  Interpreting many of our ancient texts through the approach (ironically enough) of the famous University of Chicago scholar Leo Strauss, they find in these texts arguments that presciently point to the failure of modern democracy and its values.  In other words, the western classics have become tools in suggesting that the answer to what should succeed communist orthodoxy is precisely not the liberal government of the west.  How this has come about is the topic of this lecture.