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Yang Guorong: Reviewing 30 years of devotion to philosophical studies

Author  :  Liu Liangjian     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2015-11-16

Yang Guorong (1957- ) is a professor from the Department of Philosophy at East China Normal University and one of the Ministry of Education’s Cheung Kong Scholars. He has achieved many significant research results in Confucianism, neo-Confucianism, modern and contemporary Chinese philosophy.

In 1978, Yang Guorong enrolled in the Department of Political Education at East China Normal University and read The Logical Development of Ancient Chinese Philosophies written by famous Chinese philosopher Feng Qi (1915-95) by chance. This book changed his life. He elaborated: “After reading this, I can only use ‘very excited’ to describe my feelings. Although I have read many books on the history of philosophy, Feng’s book broke a new path for me and inspired my thoughts. Its theoretical depth and logical rigor exerted a profound influence on me. I thought over and over again about what Feng said in the book and was so fond of it. I can’t take my hands off it.” From then on, Yang began to devote himself to philosophical studies. In his 30-year career, Yang exerted all his energies upon, and never deviated from his philosophical pursuits.

His research process can be roughly divided into three stages. Before 1998, he focused on philosophical history studies; between 1998 and 2013, he focused on concrete metaphysics; and after 2013, he entered a post-concrete metaphysics period. Someone once asked whether Yang’s proposals relating to concrete metaphysics represented the establishment of a new philosophical system. But Yang’s response emphasized that concrete metaphysics is not a closed system. On the one hand, theories of concrete metaphysics are not closed, and have potential for expansion. On the other hand, Yang refused to constrain his vision to the field of concrete metaphysics.

In 2011, Peking University Press published Yang’s three volumes of Concrete Metaphysics and the book formally put forward the open system of concrete metaphysics. In general, Yang’s concrete metaphysics philosophy is not only based on the historical development of Chinese philosophy but also regards various philosophical theories as roots in the context of world philosophy. His theory aims to explain the people-to-people world from the perspectives of ontology, moral philosophy, theory of meaning and practical philosophy, which received a lot of attention from scholars both at home and abroad.


Liu Liangjian is a professor from East China Normal University in Shanghai.

Editor: Yu Hui

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