china via france


Even Paula Varsano, translator of In Praise of Blandness (2004), one of the several Jullien tomes expertly published by Zone Books, voices some of the concerns that arise in scrutinizing the corpus of this singular professor at the Université Paris Diderot and director of the Institut de la Pensée Contemporaine. “Recognized professionally as a sinologist,” writes Varsano in her preface, “Jullien has frequently and publicly asserted that he came to this field not out of a passion for things Chinese but out of a desire to gain a clearer perspective on the roots of his own tradition as found in Greek philosophy. He describes his lifelong foray into Chinese philosophy as a ‘never-ending detour.’” Varsano properly notes that Chinese thought provides Jullien with an ideal vantage from which to view the Western philosophical tradition from the outside, becauseWestern thought’s Indo-European syntax and etymology didn’t shape Chinese philosophy, Western civilization didn’t influence China until modern times, and the field abounds in classic texts that can be confronted directly.

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