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


Cultural Self-Transformation─Dai Zhen and Nietzsche

Vol. 38 No. 2   6/2008    


Cultural Self-TransformationDai Zhen and Nietzsche  


Tsang-long Liu  









Key words

cultural self-transformation, cultural critique, philosophy of body, perspectivism  


In a period of cultural crisis, a significant mission of philosophers is to provide a framework for the re-establishment of cultural self-identity.  The purpose of this framework is to facilitate the self-transformation of cultures, and the aim of this is to regain the ground of legitimation for the sake of cultural evolution.  This paper compares the cultural critique of Dai Zhen (1724-1777) and Nietzsche (1844-1900) and explores the cultural self-transformation strategies which are implied in their cultural critiques.  I describe how these two philosophers faced the crisis of their own culture (Confucianism and Platonism-Christianity) and what approaches they used to transcend their culture.

    We can draw a parallel between Dai Zhen's efforts and Nietzsche's efforts to reconstruct their own cultural traditions. There are some similarities to be found in their cultural reconstructions, which also signify a transformation of thought structure.  The cultural critiques of Dai Zhen and Nietzsche implicitly put forth the following:

1.      an emphasis on the individual

2.      an emphasis on the naturalness of the human being

3.      the body as a basis for human conduct.

These require a refutation of the transcendental identity of the norm but an acceptance of the empirical aspects of human nature. On the one hand, Dai Zhen and Nietzsche emphasize the concreteness and particularity of the individual; on the other hand, they try to provide a necessary code of conduct from the perspective of naturalistic holism, using the body as a basis for human conduct. We examine whether the cultural critiques of Dai Zhen and Nietzsche can be seen as a test of the philosophy of body to provide a code of conduct for every individual.  There are two possible outcomes for this trial: either Dai Zhen and Nietzsche can achieve their goal of cultural self-transformation, or, the revaluations of their cultural matrices are nothing but an accelerated destruction of cultural and traditional core values.



Author: Tsang-long Liu
Genre: Article
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