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MC13.1 Standards of Validity

Standards of Validity in Imperial Chinese Discourses

Coordination: Joachim Kurtz, Martin Hofmann


This subproject is an extension of the Cluster research project D15 "Making Powerful Arguments". In addition to the areas of investigation addressed there, it will examine dialogical forms of argumentation in imperial Chinese discourses. A massive archive of such practices is preserved in the so called “questions and answers” texts that played prominent parts in the propagation and domestication of non-Chinese or nonorthodox ideas. Known under different names throughout their long history, staged representations of dialogue and debate in question and answer form were strategically deployed in struggles for imperial patronage or other kinds of support between competing schools of thought. Juxtaposing Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian and European ideas in dialogical frameworks was a means to demonstrate the supremacy of arguments and, by extension, that of beliefs and ideologies. Focusing on three periods in which question and answer texts gained particular prominence—the Chinese encounter with Buddhism, Neo- Confucian reinterpretations of the Classics, and adaptations of European ideas—the studies in this subproject seek to recover the implicit criteria governing truth-claims in Chinese dialogical reasoning.