Dr. Liu Kuan-yen Published Three Peer-reviewed Research-based Single-authored Book Chapters on Yan Fu’s (1854-1921) Thought and Pre-Qin (Pre-221BC) Philosophy in the Edited Volumes Published by Springer and Routledge in 2020
A Lecturer at the General Education Division and the Philosophy Minor Program, Dr. Liu Kuan-yen published three peer-reviewed research-based single-authored book chapters on Yan Fu’s (1854-1921) Thought and Pre-Qin (Pre-221 BC) Philosophy in the edited volumes published by internationally renowned publishers (Springer and Routledge) in 2020. He also presented his research outcomes at an invited speech hosted by the Philosophy Department of National Taiwan University as well as at a book panel for the edited volume at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion.
1. Peer-Reviewed Research-Based Book Chapter: “Yan Fu’s Xunzian-Confucian Translation of Thomas Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics,” in Asian Religious Responses to Darwinism—Evolutionary Theories in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East Asian Cultural Contexts (Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures). Ed. Mackenzie Brown. Cham: Springer, 2020. P. 257-286.
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2. Peer-Reviewed Research-Based Book Chapter: “Yan Fu’s Daoist Reinterpretation of Evolutionism,” in Asian Religious Responses to Darwinism—Evolutionary Theories in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East Asian Cultural Contexts (Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures). Ed. Mackenzie Brown. Cham: Springer, 2020. P. 287-318.
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3. Peer-Reviewed Research-Based Book Chapter: “Late-Qing Translation (1840-1911) and the Political Activism of Chinese Evolutionism,” in The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Activism. Ed. Rebecca Ruth Gould and Kayvan Tahmasebian. London: Routledge 2020. p. 439-460.
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4. Invited Speech: “Yan Fu’s Xunzian-Confucian Translation of Thomas Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics in Tianyan lun”. Philosophy Department, National Taiwan University. Nov 9, 2020.
5. Conference Presentation: “How are ‘Darwinian Challenges’ Revisited and Reinterpreted through Xunzian-Confucianism and Daoism in Yan Fu’s Acceptance of Victorian Evolutionism?” (presented at the book panel “Darwinism in Asia: Panel Discussion of the Book Asian Religious Responses to Darwinism”). The 2020 Virtue Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Nov 30-Dec 10, 2020.
Dr. Liu presented his paper at the conference hosted by the Philosophy Department, Peking University in 2010
Dr. Liu has trained in various disciplinary approaches at the departments of English, Philosophy, Chinese (East Asian) and History from his undergraduate study in Taiwan to doctoral study in North America.
In the field of Chinese philosophy and thought, Dr. Liu’s solid academic training across departments enables him to examine ancient Chinese texts and philosophical questions by integrating the following approaches: (1) a close reading and detailed analysis of the nuanced meaning of the text, (2) a solid understanding of the traditional exegesis and the history of classics, hermeneutics and canonization, (3) a study of the contexts of intellectual history and the history of philosophy, and, (4) most importantly, a critical analysis of central concepts, the system of philosophy, the mode of thought and the logic of argumentation. The integration of these academic approaches informs his published articles on Chinese evolutionism and Yan Fu’s thought as well as his teaching of a core course on “History of Chinese Philosophy” at the Philosophy Minor Program of CUHK(SZ).
It is also worth mentioning that Mou Tsung-san’s and Lao Sze-kwang’s (late professors at the Philosophy Department, CUHK) academic heritages, research methodologies and cultural missions, which are defined by the combination of a profound immersion in Chinese classics and a solid training in Western Philosophy, along with Yu Ying-shih’s (former professor at CUHK) academic concerns in the fields of intellectual history and political culture, have been great inspirations for Dr. Liu’s approach to study Chinese philosophy and thought as well as comparative philosophy since his undergraduate study.
Dr. Liu read Lao Sze-kwang’s New Edition of the History of Chinese Philosophy several times during his undergraduate study and used Chinese calligraphy to write Professor Lao’s couplet in 2019
Dr. Liu’s three research articles in 2020 deal with the interactions of Late-Qing Thought (1840-1911) and Pre-Qin (Pre-221 BC) Chinese Philosophy with the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin (1809-1882), Hebert Spencer (1820-1903) and Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) as well as other Western thoughts in late-nineteenth-and-twentieth-century Chinese thought and translation with a focus on Yan Fu.
The Late-Qing period witnessed the interlacing of ancient, modern, Western and Chinese ideas, and Dr. Liu’s cross-disciplinary approach and solid training in both Western and Chinese humanities enable him to identify and unravel the intertwined ideas in Chinese Darwinism. His research outcomes are conducive to a philosophical understanding of the transition from ancient Chinese knowledge to modern Western knowledge, the developments of socio-political thoughts and the acceptance of Western science during the Late-Qing period. As to the study of global Darwinism, Dr. Liu’s research demonstrates how, against the diverse backgrounds of Victorian Britain and Late-Qing China and under the distinct frameworks of Western and Chinese philosophy, Victorian evolutionists (Darwin, Huxley and Spencer) and Yan Fu respectively respond to, reinterpret or reframe the questions concerning biology, epistemology, metaphysics, social theory and ethics raised in evolutionist discourses.
“Late-Qing Translation (1840-1911) and the Political Activism of Chinese Evolutionism” (2020)
Dr. Liu’s “Late-Qing Translation (1840-1911) and the Political Activism of Chinese Evolutionism” (2020) aims to contextualize and theorize the agency of Chinese language and thought to transform Western thought in the meaning-making process of translation, with a particular focus on the discursive formation of Chinese evolutionism as well as Chinese evolutionist reinterpretations of nineteenth-century Western thoughts concerning the national community, women’s rights and racial classification. Dr. Liu’s multi-disciplinary training at various departments enables him to approach the texts of late-Qing Chinese socio-political thoughts by linking translation history, nuanced textual analysis, intellectual history, political history and translation theory, thereby bridging the methodological gap among these academic fields, not least in existing research on Chinese evolutionism.
“Yan Fu’s Xunzian-Confucian Translation of Thomas Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics” (2020)
Dr. Liu’s “Yan Fu’s Xunzian-Confucian Translation of Thomas Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics” (2020) focuses on how Yan Fu conducts a philosophical transformation and a socio-political reinterpretation of Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics (1894) through the language and thought of Xun Zi (3rd Century BC) in Tianyan lun (The Operation of Heaven), a radically interpretative translation of the above-mentioned Huxley’s work in 1895. In previous research, scholars have discussed Yan Fu’s use of the idea of “Qun” (group or community) in Xun Zi to translate the Western concept of “society,” but there still has been a conspicuous lack of substantial academic attention devoted to how Xun Zi’s language and thought inform Tianyan lun and set the foundation for Yan Fu’s system of thought.
In Dr. Liu’s research article, a close reading and a nuanced philosophical analysis of both Huxley’s original English text and Yan Fu’s classical Chinese translation, along with a comparative study of the respective historical and intellectual contexts of Victorian Britain and Late-Qing China, unravel how Xun Zi’s ideas concerning “the unification of the community through social stratification and the fulfilling of one’s duty” (Hequn mingfen), “controlling and using Heaven” (Zhitian yongtian) and “the power of the community” (Qiang and Qun), as well as the connections of these ideas in Xun Zi’s thought, facilitate Yan Fu’s translation of Huxley’s ethics and evolutionism into the political and natural philosophy of Chinese nationalism.
Dr. Liu’s training in English, Philosophy, Chinese and History, along with his previous research on Darwin, Huxley and Spencer, enables him to have an intensive, original and nuanced engagement with the texts of ancient Chinese philosophy, Late-Qing thought, Victorian biology as well as Western thought in this research article, thereby providing a systematic and convincing explanation of why Yan Fu chose to translate Huxley’s anti-Social-Darwinian writing to introduce the ideas of Darwinism to his Chinese compatriots. This is a question firstly posed in Benjamin Schwartz’s In Search of Wealth and Power: Yen Fu and the West (1964) but not well explained and still puzzling in English and Chinese scholarship until Dr. Liu demonstrates how Yan Fu accepts and twists the logic of Huxley’s ethics through the lens of Xun Zi’s philosophy and Late-Qing nationalism.
“Yan Fu’s Daoist Reinterpretation of Evolutionism” (2020)
Dr. Liu’s “Yan Fu’s Daoist Reinterpretation of Evolutionism” is the first research article to conduct a “systematic” analysis on how Yan Fu synthesized Lao Zi’s (5th-6th Century BC) metaphysics and political philosophy, Charles Darwin’s biology, and Spencer’s social theory in his Daoist evolutionism. Besides, Dr. Liu pays particular attention to how the metaphysical thought in Wang Bi’s (226-249) annotation of the Daode Jing influences Yan Fu’s understanding of Lao Zi’s thought and enables Yan Fu to accept Western evolutionary theories through Daoist metaphysics and cosmology.
In previous research, without a deep understanding of all of the major sources in Yan Fu’s commentary on the Daode Jing—that is, Lao Zi’s cosmology and metaphysics, Wang Bi’s metaphysics and annotation of the Daode Jing, Spencer’s epistemology, metaphysics and theory of social evolution, and Darwin’s philosophy of biology—scholars fail to analyze how Yan Fu reconnects the ideas from different systems of knowledge on a metaphysical level. Moreover, the significance of Wang Bi’s annotation for understanding Yan Fu’s Daoist reinterpretation of evolutionism is largely, if not completely, neglected in previous research on Yan Fu’s commentary on Lao Zi’s Daode Jing.
Dr. Liu’s article deals with two interconnected aspects of Yan Fu’s commentary on the Daode Jing: first, Yan Fu’s reinterpretation of the operation of the Dao utilizing Western theories of evolution, and second, in a converse fashion, his reinterpretation of the evolutionary theories of Darwin and Spencer through the lens of Lao Zi’s cosmology and metaphysics. Dr. Liu addresses how Yan Fu redefines Lao Zi’s and Wang Bi’s ideas of the "Dao" and "Natural"(Ziran) in light of Victorian evolutionism and Western science, and how Yan Fu reinterprets the connection among the function of desire, the operation of the Dao and the forming of myriad things in Wang Bi’s annotation of the Daode Jing to argue about the impetus or inner driving force in the process of evolution. In addition, Dr. Liu investigates how Yan Fu redefines the natural way of the Dao in Lao Zi’s political thought of non-action through Spencer’s theory of the development of a social organism and how, in terms of the working of the force of the Dao, Yan Fu reinterprets evolution and survival in natural selection as a “natural way” in the nationalist agenda of strengthening the country.
What distinguishes Dr. Liu’s research from previous scholarship on Yan Fu’s Daoist thought is that his academic training in both Western and Chinese philosophy, along with his original engagement with and previous research on the texts of Victorian biology and Chinese thought, enables him to deal with the questions pertaining to exegesis, history of classics, traditional commentary, late-Qing intellectual history and political culture, the metaphysics, epistemology and socio-political thought in original British evolutionary theories, as well as comparative philosophy. By examining the above-mentioned questions in Yan Fu’s synthesis of ancient Daoism and Victorian biology, Dr. Liu makes the conclusions drawn through various disciplinary perspectives in different sections reinforce each other in a structured article.
All in all, in the above-mentioned recent publications in 2020, Dr. Liu studies the broader context, nuanced meaning and thought system of Chinese evolutionist texts through the approaches of intellectual history, close textual analysis, philosophical analysis as well as comparative philosophy and thought, thereby examining the socio-political backgrounds, philosophical system and ramifications of Yan Fu’s thought. Besides, Dr. Liu’s comparative and philosophical analysis of Victorian and Late-Qing evolutionist thoughts throws into relief how ancient Chinese philosophy and Mid-Qing thought interacted with Western thoughts during the Late-Qing period and therefore contributed both to the shaping of modern Chinese socio-political thought and to the acceptance of Western science.
Dr. Liu’s three peer-reviewed research-based book chapters
Dr. Kuan-yen Liu is serving as a Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen (CUHKSZ). Prior to his current position, he served as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center and a Lecturer in the Comparative Literature Program, both at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).
Dr. Liu’s research deals with the questions concerning epistemology, philosophy of science and political philosophy in Late-Qing (1840-1911) Chinese thought and translation with an emphasis on the interactions of the traditions of Pre-Qin Philosophy (pre-221 BC), Song-Ming Confucianism (Neo-Confucianism in 960-1279 and 1368-1644) and Qing Thought (1644-1911) with Western biology, philosophy and socio-political theory. His study of Late-Qing thought and Chinese philosophy has resulted in three peer-reviewed research-based book chapters in the edited volumes published by Routledge and Springer in 2020 as well as several conference presentations at first-rate universities in China, Hong Kong, Europe and America. He also delivered invited speeches on Chinese philosophy and Late-Qing thought at the Philosophy Department of National Taiwan University and the Chinese Department of Yuan Ze University. Besides, the outcome of his research on the science and philosophy of Victorian evolutionism was presented at the conferences held by the University of Toronto, UC Berkeley, and the North American Victorian Studies Association.
Dr. Liu received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he specialized in Victorian Thought and Literature, Late-Qing Chinese Thought and Literature, and Philosophy of Biology. During his doctoral study, his research projects concerning Yan Fu’s Chinese philosophical transformation of British Darwinism won the prestigious research grants of “Taiwanese Ministry of Education Fellowship for Studying Abroad” and “Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange’s Fellowship for Dissertation Writing” (declined). Prior to his doctoral study, he earned his B.A. with a double major in English Literature and Philosophy as well as minors in History and Chinese Literature from National Chengchi University (Taiwan), where he received solid multi-disciplinary training in Western and Chinese philosophy, thought and literature across departments.
At the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Dr. Liu teaches courses on “History of Chinese Philosophy” and “History and Philosophy of Biology” in the Philosophy Minor Program. Besides, in the Division of General Education, he teaches university core-curriculum courses on “In Dialogue with Humanity” and “In Dialogue with Nature” (courses on “Western and Chinese Classics” and “History and Philosophy of Science”) and elective courses on Western and Chinese literature (poetry and science fiction). At the University of California, Santa Barbara, as Pre-Doctoral Instructor and Lecturer, he previously designed and taught his own four courses on Long-Nineteenth-Century European Thought and Literature, Buddhist and Daoist Thought and Literature, Major Works of Classical Chinese Literature, and Modern Chinese and Sinophone Literature in the Comparative Literature Program.
Besides, having been immersed in traditional Chinese culture since childhood, Dr. Liu excels in the calligraphy styles of Northern-Wei Stele (386-534) and Zhao Zhiqian (1829-1884) and serves as the faculty advisor of the Nan-lu (South-Dew) student club for Chinese calligraphy at CUHK(SZ). He has also published his creative works of classical Chinese poetry and prose in Chien-Kun Poetry Quarterly, a journal of classical and modern Chinese poetry in Taiwan.
Dr. Liu’s classical Chinese poems on Yan Fu and his contemporaries