Wu Genyou: building a Chinese-style philosophy discipline

This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the reestablishment ofthephilosophy discipline in WHU. The past six decades have witnessed the strenuous efforts made bytheSchool of Philosophy to build a world-class discipline with Chinesecharacteristics and initial success has been achieved. Recently,ProfessorWu Genyou, the dean ofSchool of Philosophy, shared his observations on the history and development of the philosophy disciplineatWHU.

Reporter: Whatwasthe positioninglike for thephilosophy discipline at the very beginning of its reestablishment and what is its implication?

Wu: It was initially positioned at the disciplinary cluster of Marxist philosophy, or “single body with double wings”, according to Mr. Li Da. In thismetaphor, “one body” refers to Marxism while Chinese philosophy and Western philosophy are two wings to support the body. Its proposer, Mr. Li Da is a theorist of Marxism with Chinese features, who maintained the predominance of Marxism and inherited the progressive path of traditional Chinese philosophy integrated with Western philosophy upon the reestablishment of the department of philosophy. This model and design, embodying Mr. Li’s foresight and global vision, proves to be correct.

Reporter: How does the reestablished philosophy disciplineinheritthe past and usher in thefuture?

Wu: Over the past 60 years, the philosophy cluster has expanded development under the direction of “single body with double wings”. Specifically speaking, Marxism should stay prominent in order to solve the practical problems facing modern China. More crucially, the development of philosophy itself requires the assimilation of the latest advanced thought from Western philosophy so as to serve the construction of modern Chinese philosophy. Meanwhile, we ought to delve deeper into the essence of traditional Chinese philosophical thoughts and combine them with Marxist philosophy. Only in this way can we build an internationalized philosophy with Chinese characteristics and forge a new developmentmodel. On this basis, questions about social practice in China and this era of globalization can be put forward and be answered with timely philosophical explanations.

Reporter: What is the current philosophy of schooling?

Wu: It is to build a world-class philosophy discipline cluster with Chinese characteristics; you can think of it as “Chinese features plus internationalization”.“Chinese characteristics” means that the fundamental spirits of Marxist philosophy should be integrated with the traditional Chinese one, with which the practical problems in society can be dealt with; “world-class” suggests that Chinese philosophy should be communicated in a way that suits a Western mindset for it to most effectively contribute to the enrichment of world philosophy and the settlement of human existence in our era of globalization.

Reporter: So what are the features, advantages and position of the philosophy discipline in WHU?

Wu: A full-fledged and integrated model is our core competency, consisting of three main disciplines of Marxist philosophy, Chinese philosophy and Western philosophy along with eight sub-disciplines such as aesthetic, logic and ethics. This is unique both at home and abroad. The philosophy discipline in our university is currently in the leading position and is expected to make further progress in the international arena in the coming five to ten years. We have great confidence in achieving this goal. The integration of philosophy and psychology is another unique characteristic of the discipline at WHU.

Reporter: What about the measures taken to innovate and strive to edge into the first-class during the discipline construction?

Wu: Philosophy and psychology are two main disciplines of our school and there is an inter-discipline—sinology. The School of Philosophy in WHU therefore is endowed with extensive discipline backgrounds, which enables it to respond to contemporary issues. As for the planning of discipline construction, an international developmental strategy should be carried out persistently, which includes the import of foreign experts and doctors from prestigious universities overseas as well as more opportunities for international exchange and paper publication. Also, great significance has been attached to talent cultivation and the exploration of new disciplines.

Reporter: In which fields can the academic achievements of this school let out its leading voice?

Wu: The academic achievements of our school can be described as “fruitful”. Domestically speaking, our school is the leading expert in Marxism Sinicization, Marxism abroad (especially in Luxembourg), modern Confucianism, the philosophy of Ming-Qing dynasties, history of Chinese aesthetic and Chinese opera study, translation and study on works by Kant and Hegel, and the study on Leibniz. Also, in most of these fields, we have made our voice heard by the international academic circle and our school is the authority in the translation and study of Christianity philosophy of the Middle Ages, especially works by Thomas Aquinas.

Reporter: What is the school’s current situation of international schooling and what are the future plans?

Wu: The past four years witnessed its remarkable achievements, which are reflected in its learned young talent team, an increasing number of papers published in world-renowned academic journals, academic achievements with expanding global influence and more frequent international exchanges. It is an inspiring phenomenon that a humanities field can strike at such an internationalized level.

Reporter:“Upright into the heaven and down to the earth” is the thought of schooling of WHU. The School of Philosophy, in this spirit, is supposed to not only build a world-class discipline with Chinese characteristics, but also get down to influential theories and practical problems so as to serve the development of national and regional economic progress. So what are the current fruits of this labor and the measures to take?

Wu:“Upright into the heaven” targets at international academic front and national strategy, including the exploration into the progressive philosophical issues and the undertaking of important projects; “down to the earth” refers to the reliance on reality and traditional philosophy of China as well as the role of philosophy in serving regional social and economic development.

In the future, the School of Philosophy will struggle to meet the challenges that come with an international vision and gain the financial support necessary to internationalize. At the same time, philosophy should serve social and economic progress through its close connection with real life and further expand the domestic and global impact of this discipline.

Reporter: How does the philosophy discipline make a difference in the construction of a world-class university with world-class discipline?

Wu: WHU’s philosophy and psychology departments have been in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings for five consecutive years. The high quality academic achievements and valuable data from the School of Philosophy make great contributions to the expanding international academic influence of our university, and we will help it forge ahead.(Rewritten by Shen Yuxi, edited by Hu Sijia, Edmund Wai Man Lai)

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