How to Turn Philosophical Ideas into Diagrams: Chinese approaches and insights

Professor Michael Lackner, Chair of Chinese Studies, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany

A China Studies Centre Distinguished Speaker Lecture

14 August

During a period of about 200 years, from the mid-12th to the mid-14th centuries, Confucian scholars produced – in large quantities – diagrams, which aimed to provide the reader with tools for textual analysis. In these diagrams, the arrangement of the sentences from the Classics is a non-linear one, the mapping of the text segments allows for a different kind of intuition, which eventually leads to a new understanding of the meaning of the text. The presentation will shed some light on possible precedents of this new form of diagrams, and also give an introduction into the multi-faceted functioning of diagrams on the basis of selected material.

Professor Michael Lackner

Professor Michael Lackner is Chair of Chinese Studies, Department of Middle Eastern and Far Eastern Languages and Cultures, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. He has studied Sinology, Ethnology, Political Science and Philosophy in Heidelberg, Munich, and Paris. He has taught in Geneva, Göttingen and Erlangen, with stays as visiting professor at Fudan/Shanghai, Taida/Taipei, Kansai University/Osaka, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme and EHESS/Paris.

Michael Lackner has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin and the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. His fields of study encompass Song dynasty philosophical thought and learned practices, the Jesuit mission in China, the history of divination, and the formation of modern Chinese scientific terminology and disciplines. He has published monographs, databases and articles in these specialties.