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Lecture Series on Global Philosophies

23.Jan 2012

Metaphor in early China was the subject of a lecture by Prof. Edward Slingerland (University of British Columbia) on 26 January 2012. The talk closed the lecture series “Global Philosophies? Reflections and Challenges between Asia and Europe” organised by Prof. Birgit Kellner (Chair of Buddhist Studies).  

In his lecture titled "Philosophy and Metaphor: The Case of Early China", Prof. Slingerland discussed how Western scholarship on early Chinese thought has been dominated by attitudes toward the role of metaphor in early Chinese thought. He argued that these views of the role of metaphor in early China are mistaken, and have in fact served to distort our view of early Chinese thinkers. Drawing on a large body of empirical work from a variety of fields in the cognitive sciences, he attempted to demonstrate that all human cognition is heavily dependent on imagistic conceptual structures and cross-domain projections. What is unusual about early Chinese thought was the conscious attention that thinkers devoted to developing vivid and consistent sets of interlocking metaphors and metaphorical blends, which makes metaphor and blend analysis a particularly crucial tool when approaching these texts. (CV, Abstract)

Edward Gilman Slingerland III is Professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He earned a B.A. from Stanford in Asian Languages (Chinese), an M.A. from UC Berkeley in East Asian Languages (classical Chinese), and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Stanford University. His research specialties and teaching interests include Warring States (5th-3rd c. B.C.E.) Chinese thought, religious studies (comparative religion, cognitive science and evolution of religion), cognitive linguistics (blending and conceptual metaphor theory), ethics (virtue ethics, moral psychology), evolutionary psychology, the relationship between the humanities and the natural sciences, and the classical Chinese language.

The lecture was part of the Cluster’s lecture series "Global Philosophies? Reflections and Challenges between Asia and Europe" organised by Prof. Birgit Kellner, Chair of Buddhist Studies. The list of speakers included Dr. Ori Sela (Tel Aviv University), Prof. Jens Halfwassen (Heidelberg University), Prof. John Taber (University of New Mexico), Prof. Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia University), Prof. Parul Dave Mukherji (Jawaharlal Nehru University) and Prof. Edward Slingerland (University of British Columbia). All lectures took place from 6 to 8 pm in room 212 of the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Voßstraße 2, Building 4400, Heidelberg.

Visit the lecture series’ website for further information


  • Prof. Edward Slingerland