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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


The Relationship between Cultural Identity and Discourse Power in the Thought of Li Zhuowu

Vol. 47 No.1  3/2017


The Relationship between Cultural Identity and Discourse Power in the Thought of Li Zhuowu


Kang Pei









Key words

Li Zhuowu, discourse, power, cultural identity, heresy, identity


Contemporary scholarship on Li Zhuowu 李卓吾has focused on explaining his “heresy” within the context of late Ming thought. Li’s academic inclinations have always been an important point of contention, with some identifying him as a traitor to Confucianism, and others asserting that he advocated the unity of the Three Teachings.  This article investigates Li Zhuowu’s intellectual inclinations as well as his bodily image in order to clarify his cultural identity (Confucian scholar/monk). Using cultural studies from the west, it is possible to further observe that this issue involves a relationship between discourse power and his sense of identity.

This article begins by employing the concept of “cultural identity” to discuss how Li Zhuowu made use of Buddhist body conceptual terminology to not only challenge and topple the physical dignity of Confucianism, but also to re-interpret Confucian saints and classical texts. Li’s objective was to neutralize his opponents’ rhetorical strategy as well as issue a response to the anxious mentality of self-identification. At that time, Li’s identity was ambiguous, and this façade has come to be accepted by the modern academy. Li Zhuowu has in fact become a symbol imbued with multiple meanings, and the diverse array of what he stands for reveals the influence of changing intellectual trends.



Author: Kang Pei
Genre: Article
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