What should we Learn from China?

Guest lecture by Josef Gregory Mahoney, PhD

Associate Professor of Politics, East China Normal University

Senior Researcher, Central Compilation and Translation Bureau

Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies, Fudan University


Firstly, as a matter of epistemological analysis, we begin by examining the "China model" and other contemporary Sinocentric or Chinese-inspired developments as possibly indicating the emergence of a new, alternative discourse, with implications for theories and practices of political economy in China and around the world. Although it is still too early to conclude confidently that a viable, contemporary, future-oriented "Chinese" alternative has formed, it is clear that both local and global conditions for such change are ripe, insomuch as international crises have eroded confidence in and exposed fault lines in Western models, which again, we assess in epistemological terms. Secondly, we examine in particular the "rational kernel in the mystical shell," and argue that an understanding of Chinese Marxist dialectics remains a key to understanding China politically and ideologically, which we demonstrate in part through brief analyses of Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, Jiang Zemin's "Three Represents," Hu Jintao's "Scientific Development Concept" and "Harmonious Society" campaign and associated policymaking praxes. Thirdly, returning to our titular concern, we reflect on the relative absence of dialectics in the Western epistemological tradition, particularly in the modern period. We suggest that a century of blending Chinese and Western thinking has given China an edge-especially over the course of reform and opening up, when these two epistemological traditions reached a synthesizing highpoint.

Brief Bio

Josef Gregory Mahoney, PhD, Associate Professor of Political Philosophy, Department of Politics, East China Normal University; Senior Researcher, Central Compilation and Translation Bureau under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China; Research Associate, Contemporary China Research Center under the Institute for Advanced Studies at Fudan University; Assistant Editor of the US-based Journal of Chinese Political Science. Author of numerous papers in Chinese and English, principle areas of research and expertise include modern political thought and ideology in China and comparative Chinese and Western epistemologies.