The event will be held in English.
Concept and moderation:
Dr Wang Yi, Team leader of the international department, University of Hamburg
Lucien Mathot Monson, PhD candidate at the University of South Florida
The Forgotten Sex: Ren 仁 and the Feminist Thought of the Hundred Days’ Reformers
The philosophers behind China’s ill-fated Hundred Days’ Reform of 1898 – Kang Youwei 康有为, Tan Sitong 谭嗣同, and Liang Qichao 梁启超 – saw the liberation of women as central to modernization. However, their feminist critiques can easily be misunderstood if we don’t first understand the kind of sexism to which they were responding and how it related to the Confucian philosophy of ren 仁 (humanity/humaneness) and self-cultivation. Specifically, Confucian thought had given rise to a culture of “correlative sexism,” which was paradoxically responsible for both the practice of footbinding and the warrior heroine Hua Mulan.
This presentation explores the conceptual landscape of gender in Confucian thought and how it informed early modern feminist critiques in China. While women were an integral part of the cultivation of a ren society, the Confucian classics focused almost exclusively on the self-cultivation of men. The self-cultivation of women was an afterthought and the social roles they were given often condemned them to lives of subservience. The Hundred Days Reformers developed a feminist thought where women and men shared coequal responsibility for the cultivation of society and believed reform could not be achieved apart from the liberation of women.
Lucien Mathot Monson is a doctoral candidate and adjunct professor at the philosophy department of the University of South Florida. He specializes in the history of philosophy with a focus on Chinese and European philosophy of modernity. Between 2018-2020 he was at Fudan University in Shanghai conducting research through the Confucius New China Studies Joint PhD Fellowship Program on his dissertation, “Learning to be Human: Ren 仁, Modernity, and the Philosophers of China’s Hundred Days’ Reform”, which examines the emergence of philosophical modernity in China and its relationship to the concept of ren.