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D15 Making Powerful Arguments (project completed)

Making Powerful Arguments in Late Imperial China: Shifting Standards of Validity in Transcultural Perspective

Coordination: Martin Hofmann, Joachim Kurtz

Abstract

Making Powerful Arguments aims to fill a significant lacuna in the global histories of truth and rationality. By assembling evidence on the distinct modes of knowledge production that shaped learned discourses in late imperial China, the project will lay the foundations for a history of argumentative practice in one of the richest textual cultures outside of Europe. In contrast to existing studies that have, so far unsuccessfully, focused on recovering explicit Chinese theories of reasoning, Making Powerful Arguments reconstructs the standards of validity embodied in concrete and historically situated instances of argumentation. The initial focus is on case studies in five interrelated areas of central concern to the imperial Chinese state: education, law, canonical exegesis, historiography and natural studies. In a second step, the project will trace how practices in each of these areas were transformed, and standards of validity altered, by encounters with different forms of discursive rationality in the wake of the European expansion.

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Coordination

Martin Hofmann
Joachim Kurtz

Group members

Dominic Steavu

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