The political philosophy of Suzhi

Heping Village Primary School, Gansu province, China. Schoolroom and children Photo: Liang Qiang / World Bank.  Taken on September 6, 2005

During the past forty years or so, suzhi, or human quality and qualities, remains perhaps the most prevailing and lasting discourse, both official and popular, in China. It is also, in Delia Lin's view, the most dubious and misunderstood word. The Chinese scholarship has established suzhi and its application to education as one of the core values of Western civilisation, and the Anglophonic writings largely place suzhi within a neoliberal framework. Is suzhi an indigenous idea or borrowed from the West? Is it a modern product? This paper traces the journey of suzhi and examines its philosophical, psychological and cultural foundations. Lin argues that what underpins suzhi is Confucian political philosophy and psychology that has wormed its way into Chinese society today and has been bestowed with a perception of global acceptance. Whether or not this belief of global latitude is justified is questionable.

About the Speaker

Dr. Delia Lin is a lecturer at the Centre for Asian Studies of the University of Adelaide. Her research passion lies in the nexus between language, politics, philosophy and psychology. She is completing her monograph on suzhi and civilising projects in post-Mao China.

Dates & times

Thursday, 6 November 2014

4.00pm - 5.30pm


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