ISCP 21st International Conference on Chinese Philosophy: “Reality, Argumentation, and Persuasion: Metaphysical Explorations and Epistemological Engagements in Chinese Philosophy”

Tuesday 2nd July - Friday 5th July, 2019 at University of Berne, Institute of Philosophy, Switzerland

Chinese philosophy has since its pre-Imperial beginnings been concerned with knowledge - witness Zhuangzi’s argument with Hui Shi about knowing about the happiness of the fish. Furthermore, as this famous story makes clear, there is argument about what people know and what they do not know. And there are things known, in this story, the happiness of the fish, more usually, the character of rulers, the rites, how to act, right and wrong, history, cosmology, the unifying principle of the world, medicine, and mathematics. Yet these aspects of the Chinese tradition have hardly received the attention they deserve from philosophers—questions of what can be known, what the concept of knowledge is taken to be, what role it plays within various conceptual frameworks, as well as the sceptical challenges made to knowledge, beginning, once again, with the Zhuangzi. Scepticism makes room for persuasion, and for clarifying what makes a sound argument, as opposed to mere persuasion. But there are also systematic collections of knowledge (mathematical, medical, cosmological, scientific, for example) which are prominent in the tradition, and they have close connections with philosophy proper. We invite proposals for papers and panels to deepen our understanding of these issues, and carry Chinese philosophy forward into the new millennium.

Invited speakers:

Karine Chemla, SPHERE, CNRS & University Paris Diderot, France
Anne Cheng, Collège de France, France
Karyn Lai, School of Humanities & Languages, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Austria
Sir Geoffrey Lloyd, Scholar in Residence, Needham Research Institute, Cambridge, UK
Paul Unschuld, Institute for Chinese Life Sciences, Charité-Medical University, Berlin, Germany
Yang Guorong, Department of Philosophy, East China Normal University, China
Jenny Zhao, Lloyd-Dan David Research Fellow, Needham Research Institute and Darwin College, Cambridge, UK

Venue: Lerchenweg 36, 3000 Berne 12, Switzerland;

Topics include the following:


  • Yin-yang, Five elements, and Yijing (and other similar systems) as systems of classification
  • Chinese ontology (you/wu—being/nonbeing)
  • Chinese idea of the Ultimate Reality: Dao, Li, Taiji, the relation between One and Many
  • Chinese cosmology
  • Philosophical anthropology—Man’s relation to Heaven/Nature
  • Chinese Philosophy of Mind—nature, mind, emotion, desire.


  • Theories of knowledge, perception and experience in Chinese philosophy
  • Epistemic reasoning and justification in Chinese philosophy
  • Theories of truth in Chinese philosophy
  • Concerns over scepticism
  • Knowledge and virtues
  • Knowledge, skills, and values
  • Moral knowledge
  • Early Encounters with Western Sciences: 16th-18th Centuries
  • Modernization and Westernization in the early 20th Century
  • Technology of the 21st Century: Chinese Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence

Argumentation and Persuasion:

  • Argument and knowledge
  • Analysis of particular arguments in philosophical texts from Pre-Qin to Contemporary
  • Persuasion and therapy
  • Persuasion and knowledge
  • Persuasion and power
  • Rhetoric – political, ethical, religious, legal, aesthetic
  • Of particular interest: Mohist Theories of argumentation, Theory of Names, Daoist methodology of debate, and specific argumentation in Buddhism


Paper abstract/panel proposal (with all paper abstracts) due (500 words)—English or Chinese: October 15, 2018 (**deadline extended**) send to: iscp2019 [at]
Acceptance by November 15, 2018
Final version of paper due: February 1, 2019
Hotel registration deadline: March 15, 2019

Payable on registration.

Registration Fees: Salaried 200 US$, Unsalaried (including young scholars) 100 US$
Salaried Members of ISCP 150 US$,
Unsalaried Members of ISCP (including young scholars): 50 US$.
(The registration fee includes drinks on the first evening, tea breaks and lunch on the four days of the conference. The closing dinner is not included.)


R. A. H. King, University of Berne, Institute of Philosophy, Switzerland
JeeLoo Liu, Department of Philosophy, California State University, Fullerton, USA
Ann Pang-White, Department of Philosophy, The University of Scranton, USA
Weimin Sun, Department of Philosophy, California State University, Northridge, USA
Jinli He, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Trinity University, USA
Genyou Wu, Department of Philosophy, Wuhan University, China
Zemian Zheng, Department of Philosophy, Wuhan University, China

Contact: richard.king [at]