The Question Concerning Technology in China

The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics

Yuk Hui

Published by Urbanomic 
December 2016
Paperback 115x175mm, 346pp


Heidegger’s critique of modern technology and its relation to metaphysics has been widely accepted in the East. Yet the conception that there is only one—originally Greek—type of technics has been an obstacle to any original critical thinking of technology in modern Chinese thought.

Yuk Hui argues for the urgency of imagining a specifically Chinese philosophy of technology capable of responding to Heidegger’s challenge, while problematizing the affirmation of technics and technologies as anthropologically universal.

This investigation of the historical-metaphysical question of technology, drawing on Lyotard, Simondon, and Stiegler, and introducing a history of modern Eastern philosophical thinking largely unknown to Western readers, including philosophers such as Feng Youlan, Mou Zongsan, and Keiji Nishitani, sheds new light on the obscurity of the question of technology in China. Why was technics never thematized in Chinese thought? Why has time never been a real question for Chinese philosophy? How was the traditional concept of Qi transformed in its relation to Dao as China welcomed technological modernity and westernization?

In The Question Concerning Technology in China, a systematic historical survey of the major concepts of traditional Chinese thinking is followed by a startlingly original investigation of these questions, in order to ask how Chinese thought might today contribute to a renewed, cosmotechnical questioning of globalized technics.




§1 The Becoming Of Prometheus; §2 Cosmos, Cosmology, And Cosmotechnics; §3 Technological Rupture And Metaphysical Unity; §4 Modernity, Modernisation, And Technicity; §5 What Is The ‘Ontological Turn’ For?; §6 Some Notes On Method

Part 1. In Search of Technological Thought in China
§7 Dao And Cosmos: The Principle Of The Moral; §8 Techne As Violence; §9 Harmony And The Heaven; §10 Dao And Qi: Virtue Contra Freedom; §10.1 Qi And Dao In Daoism: Pao Ding’s Knife; §10.2 Qi And Dao In Confucianism: Restoring The Li; §10.3 Remarks On Stoic And Daoist Cosmotechnics; §11 Qi-Dao As Resistance: The Gu Wen Movement In The Tang Period; §12 The Materialist Theory Of Ch’i In Early Neo-Confucianism; §13 Qi-Dao In Song Yingxing’s Encyclopaedia During The Ming Dynasty; §14 Zhang Xuecheng And The Historicisation Of Dao; §15 The Rupture Of Qi And Dao After The Opium Wars; §16 The Collapse Of Qi-Dao; §16.1 Carsun Chang: Science And The Problem Of Life; §16.2 The Manifesto For A China-Oriented Cultural Development, And Its Critics; §17 Needham’s Question; §17.1 The Organic Mode Of Thought And The Laws Of Nature; §18 Mou Zongsan’s Response; §18.1 Mou Zongsan’s Appropriation Of Kant’s Intellectual Intuition; §18.2 The Self-Negation Of Liangzhi In Mou Zongsan; §19 The Dialectics Of Nature And The End Of Xing Er Shang Xue

Part 2. Modernity and Technological Consciousness
§20 Geometry And Time; §20.1 The Absence Of Geometry In Ancient China; §20.2 Geometrisation And Temporalisation; §20.3 Geometry And Cosmological Specificity; §21 Modernity And Technological Consciousness; §22 The Memory Of Modernity; §23 Nihilism And Modernity; §24 Overcoming Modernity; §25 Anamnesis Of The Postmodern; §26 The Dilemma Of Homecoming; §27 Sinofuturism In The Anthropocene; §28 For Another World History