Events & Seminars

Public Lecture, Humanities
131st Lecture -- Emptiness, Nothingness and Extinction: Buddhism in Hegel and Schopenhauer [第一百三十一講] 黑格爾、叔本華佛教哲學中的「空」、「無」和「涅槃」(Sunday 2 Dec 2018)

Abstract Hegel remarked in his discussion of the nothing in the Science of Logic that: “It is well known that in oriental systems, and essentially in Buddhism, nothing, or the void, is the absolute principle.” Schopenhauer concludes a discussion of the joy of death in The World as Will and Representation with the comment: “The existence which we know he willingly gives up: what he gets instead of it is in our eyes nothing, because our existence is, with reference to that, nothing. The Buddhist faith calls it Nirvana, i.e., extinction.” It is noteworthy that reflections on void, nihility, and extinction in early nineteenth-century German philosophical discourse explicitly refer to this mysterious discourse from the East that was frequently identified as “the cult of nothingness,” as scholars such as Roger-Pol Droit have described. In this paper, I reexamine how the interpretation of nothingness and negativity in Hegel and Schopenhauer informed their encounter with “oriental thought,” their reception of Buddhism as a philosophical and religious system centering on absolute negativity, and trace how they interpreted the central Buddhist concept of emptiness in relation to the Western idea of the nothing. Both authors cannot be adequately aware of the changing senses and complex argumentative discourses addressing the Sanskrit expression śūnyatā and the Chinese term kong 空 and do not recognize the problem of translating emptiness as nothing or void. We can trace in their writings moments of how the reception of Buddhist emptiness became interculturally interconnected with and a source for arguments concerning the nature of being and nothing in modern European philosophy. Relying on the same range of historical sources that were then becoming available in the modern German speaking world, Hegel and Schopenhauer perceived related philosophical questions in these sources, while arriving at conflicting diagnoses of their philosophical and practical significance. Bibliography Eric S. Nelson is Associate Professor of Humanities at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He works on Chinese, German, and Jewish philosophy. He is the author of Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early Twentieth-Century German Thought (Bloomsbury, 2017) and Levinas, Adorno, and the Ethics of the Material Other (SUNY Press, 2019). He has published over seventy articles and book chapters and is the editor of Interpreting Dilthey: Critical Essays (Cambridge University Press, 2019). He co-edited with François Raffoul the Bloomsbury Companion to Heidegger (Bloomsbury, expanded paperback edition 2016) and Rethinking Facticity (SUNY Press, 2008); with John Drabinski, Between Levinas and Heidegger (SUNY Press, 2014); with Giuseppe D'Anna and Helmut Johach, Anthropologie und Geschichte: Studien zu Wilhelm Dilthey aus Anlass seines 100. Todestages (Königshausen & Neumann, 2013); and with Antje Kapust and Kent Still, Addressing Levinas (Northwestern University Press, 2005). He has also edited special topic issues of Frontiers of Philosophy in China and the Journal of Chinese Philosophy.

Speaker(s)
Professor Eric S Nelson (埃里克‧尼爾森教授)
Date
December 2, 2018 (Sunday)
Time
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Venue
Lecture Hall, G/F, Hong Kong Museum of History
Language
English 英語主講
Sponsor
Hong Kong Museum of History
Remarks
Free Admission; first come, first served

Research Seminar
China and the Maritime Silk Routes: The Role of China’s Contacts with the Asia-Pacific and the Viceroyalty of Peru in Early Modern Times (Monday 26 Nov 2018)

Abstract: During China’s middle period, and in early modern times, Chinese merchants, diplomats, or even soldiers were engaged in East and Southeast Asian waters as well as in the eastern Indian Ocean space. But they did not, as a rule, venture into the Pacific beyond the Philippine Archipelago. At least officially, little to no interest was shown in the Asia-Pacific region. Analysing little-known, and little-studied documents, manuscripts, and archaeological sources (mainly shipwrecks), this presentation seeks to provide fresh insights into the history of contacts between China and the Viceroyalty of Peru in the 16th to late 18th centuries. Biographical: Angela Schottenhammer (蕭婷) is professor of Non-European and World History at the University of Salzburg, Austria, and research director and adjunct professor (Chinese History) at the Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC), History Department, McGill University, Canada. She obtained her Ph.D. in 1993 from Würzburg University, Germany, with a thesis on “Song Period Tomb inscriptions” (M.A. 1989 on Liao Mosha and the Cultural Revolution) and her Habilitation degree 2000 from Munich University with a thesis on “Song Time Quanzhou in a Conflict Situation Between Central Government and Maritime Trade: Unexpected Consequences of the Central Government’s Grasp for the Wealth of a Coastal Region”. She has been working as professor of Chinese History at Ghent University, Belgium (2010-2013), the Centro de Estudios de Asia y África (CEAA), El Colegio de México (2009-2010), at Marburg University (2006-7 and 2008-9) and as research/project director at the Department for Asian Studies, Munich University (2002-2009). She is the editor of the Online journal Crossroads – Studies on the History of Exchange Relations in the East Asian World and of the book series Crossroads – History of Interactions across the Silk Routes (Brill) and East Asian Maritime History (Harrassowitz) and has widely published on traditional Chinese history, archaeology and culture as well as China’s manifold historical exchange relations and her integration into the Eurasian and global context.

Speaker(s)
Professor Angela SCHOTTENHAMMER
Professor of Non-European and Global History, History Department, University of Salzburg
Date
November 26, 2018 (Monday)
Time
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Venue
Room 3301, Academic Building (Lift 2)
Language
English
Remarks
All Are Welcome

Public Lecture, Humanities
130th Lecture -- The Kaleidoscope of 19th-Century Russian Literature and History [第一百三十講] 萬花筒式的十九世紀俄羅斯文學與歷史 (Sunday 18 Nov 2018)

Abstract This lectures explores the main themes of Russian literature and history as they were experienced in the 19th-century. Providing an analysis of works from major authors, such as Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Chekhov, the lecture will consider the unique contribution that Russian literature of this period has left as its legacy. The themes of gentry life, urbanisation, revolutionary utopia, and dystopia will also be examined as well as their lasting contribution to the new era ushered in by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Biography Robert Wessling is Adjunct Associate Professor in the Division of the Humanities and Special Advisor to the President of HKUST. He holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from UC Berkeley and previously worked as a specialist in Russian Studies for more than a decade at Stanford University. He has also lectured on Russian literature and history aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway as a study leader a for American Museum of Natural History Expeditions.

Date
November 18, 2018 (Sunday)
Time
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Language
English 英語主講
Sponsor
Hong Kong Museum of History
Remarks
Free Admission; first come, first served

Joint Seminar
Incentives, Favoritism and State Employee Performance: Evidence from a Large-Scale Randomized Control Trial (Thursday 15 Nov 2018)

Abstract State employees are difficult to be incentivized because of the multiplicity nature of their tasks and inherent problems of observability. Governments around the world thus rely on superiors' subjective evaluations for assessing subordinates' performances. However, subjective evaluation often distorts the incentive structure and leads to favoritism and influence activities. Using a large-scale field experiment, we show that introducing uncertainty in who evaluates state employees’ performances reduces influence activities and improves work performance. In contrast, encouraging superiors to provide mid-term feedbacks to subordinates do not have any detectable impacts on subordinates’ performances. Bio Guojun He is Assistant Professor appointed jointly at the Division of Social Science, Division of Environment and Sustainability, and Department of Economics at HKUST. He is also Faculty Associate of HKUST IEMS and Institute for Public Policy. Prof He holds a concurrent appointment at the University of Chicago's interdisciplinary Energy Policy Institute (2018-now) and serves as the research director of its China center (EPIC-China). In 2018, Prof He was selected as a fellow of the World Economic Forum Young Scientists Community. Before joining HKUST, Prof He was a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard School of Public Health(2013–2014) and obtained his Ph.D. degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics from U.C. Berkeley (2008–2013). He received his undergraduate education from School of Economics at Peking University (2004–2008).

Speaker(s)
Prof Guojun He
Division of Social Science, HKUST
Date
November 15, 2018 (Thursday)
Time
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Venue
IAS 4042, Lo Ka Chung Building, Lee Shau Kee Campus, HKUST

Seminar
Winds, Dreams, Theater: A Genealogy of Emotion-Realms through the Lens of The Peony Pavilion (14 Nov 2018 Wednesday)

Abstract: Emotion takes place. Rather than an inner state of mind in response to the outside world, emotion per se is spatial, at turns embedding us from without, transporting us somewhere else, or putting us ahead of ourselves. I give a revisionist history of emotions in Chinese literature and culture centered on the idea of emotion as space, which the Chinese call “emotion-realm” (qingjing). If The Peony Pavilion (Mudan ting, 1598) is the romantic play par excellence in early modern China, it is not because, as many assume, it celebrates emotion as the innermost essence of an liberated individual. Rather, it is because the play eloquently encapsulates the three major historical regimes of the spatiality of emotion—namely, winds, dreamscapes, and theatricality. As a capsule of these various regimes, The Peony Pavilion has deployed them in an anachronistic juxtaposition, obliterating their timeline and structural differences. My reading of the play is therefore an archaeological one, sorting out the layers of sedimentation, through which we can glimpse into the subtle transformation of Chinese theater and subject formation—of which the transfiguration of the dream and the rise of the media environment are telling symptoms—as an aspect of the genealogy of emotion-realms. LAM Ling Hon is assistant professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley. His research and teaching interests cover premodern drama and fiction, women’s writing, sex and gender, history of sentiments, nineteenth- and twentieth-century media culture, and critical theories. His publications include “The Matriarch’s Private Ears: Performance, Reading, Censorship, and the Fabrication of Interiority in The Story of the Stone” (HJAS 65.2), “Reading off the Screen: Toward Cinematic Il-literacy in Late 1950s Chinese Opera Film” (Opera Quarterly 26.2-3), and “A Case of the Chinese (Dis)order? The Haoqiu zhuanand the Competing Forms of Knowledge in European and Japanese Readings” (Asian Publishing and Society 3). He is the author of The Spatiality of Emotion in Early Modern China: From Dreamscapes to Theatricality has been recently published by Columbia University Press.

Speaker(s)
Professor Ling Hon LAM
Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, The University of California, Berkeley
Date
November 14, 2018 (Wednesday)
Time
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Venue
Room 3598, Academic Building (Lifts 27-28)
Language
English
Sponsor
School of Humanities and Social Science