Lecture Series 2021/2022 New Perspectives on Modernity in China
Jul 1, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Modernity without Alienation: New Possibilities for 20th century Chinese Buddhism
Speaker: Eyal Aviv Assistant Professor of Religion, Department of Religion, George Washington University
Intellectuals, such as Nietzsche, Weber, and Adorno, described modernity as a period of alienation resulting from the collapse of pre-modern social and political structures and the disintegration of shared values. Alienation leaves the individual disconnected from organic relational networks from which humans derive a sense of meaning. But is alienation an inevitable side effect of modernity? In this talk, I will explore the examples of some leading Chinese Buddhist intellectuals in the modern period and argue that far from being alienated, Chinese Buddhists seized the significant changes of the period as an opportunity to transform Buddhism and adapt it to the new era. While they were aware of China’s predicament after the collapse of the imperial world order and the spread of colonialism, still, they approached it in an engaged and constructive spirit. In the talk, I will reflect on what prevents alienation from occurring and why not all modernisms were born alike.
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