François Jullien's Visit to UVa

World-renowned philosopher, Hellenist, and Sinologist François Jullien gave a lecture at the University of Virginia and took part in a discussion panel with Scott Lash (Goldsmith College London) and Shiqiao Li (School of Architecture, University of Virginia). François Jullien is the current Chair of Alterity at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (Paris), Professor at Paris Diderot University, and director of both the Institut de la Pensée Contemporaine, and the Centre Marcel-Granet. Before these current positions, he served as the head of the Antenne Francaise de Sinologie in Hong Kong, president of the Association Francaise d’Etudes Chinoises, and director of the East Asia department of Paris Diderot University. For his extraordinary accomplishments, Jullien received the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought in Germany in 2010 and the Grand Prix de Philosophie of the Academie Francaise for his body of work in 2011. Francois Jullien has published a long list of influential books with English translations: The Propensity of ThingsDetour and AccessIn Praise of BlandnessA Treatise on EfficacyVital NourishmentThe Silent TransformationsOn the Universal, the Uniform, and the CommonThis Strange Idea of the Beautiful, and The Philosophy of Living. He is among the most translated of contemporary thinkers, with works appearing in over twenty-five countries.

On November 16, 2017, at Minor Hall, Jullien delivered a lecture entitled “There is no such thing as cultural identity, but we shall defend a culture’s resources.” By framing the "inter" between cultures through the notion of écart (divergence), Jullien urges us to resist reducing cultures, through “Globish” (globalized English), to uniformization and essence (thus identity); écart holds a tension between the two which allows the common. The common is not the similar; integration is not assimilation. The space of écart, and the possibility of the common, gives rise to the notion of “resources” of cultures. Jullien asks, “If it can have no essence, what can cultural identity be except a statistical means or a reproduction of clichés that endures only as stereotypes?”

On November 17, at the Dome Room of the Rotunda, François Jullien, Scott Lash, and Shiqiao Li discussed what might not be ontological at all, if ontology is the normative mode of thought in the west, in a session entitled “Before Ontology, China and Cultural Theory.” Through uncovering alternative modes of knowledge and experience, and through understanding languages other than the alphabetic, this panel explored the productive divergence between China and the west as a new theoretical terrain grounded in the common.

This event was supported by School of Architecture, the Weedon Foundation, East Asia Center, IGHC, CGII, the French Department, and Theory Culture & Society.

For video of the November 16th talk, please click here.

For video of the November 17th panel, please click here.