Eric Voegelin on China and Universal Humanity: A Study of Voegelin’s Hermeneutic Empirical Paradigm aims to speak to comparative political theorists, philosophers, historians, sinologists, and anyone interested in understanding our current disorders and exploring a culturally non-specific paradigm for understanding equivalent practices and patterns in the global age, especially China and the West.
Specifically, this book looks at Eric Voegelin’s (1901–1985) Theory of Order. It focuses on Voegelin’s interpretation of order/disorder, his penetration of the Tianxia (the Chinese Ecumene), and his comparison of two representative heterogenous Ecumenes in the ancient West and East. In doing so, the book explores the issue of universal humankind and the nature of order-searching.
Muen Liu is assistant researcher at the Institute for Ethics and Religions Studies (IERS), Department of Philosophy, Tsinghua University.
Chapter 1. The Hermeneutic Foundation of Interpreting Order
Chapter 2. The Empirical Orientation of Experiencing Order: The Chinese Experience
Chapter 3. Comparing Ecumenic Ages and Further Considerations
“In providing the first book-length study in English of Eric Voegelin’s account of the Chinese ecumene, Muen Liu has succeeded in demonstrating the validity of Voegelin’s ‘hermeneutic empirical paradigm’ for understanding the plurality of civilizations that avoids the extremes of either Eurocentrism or cultural relativism. His study comes at a crucial time when intercultural understanding between China and the West is most needed.”
“Muen Liu’s book is an extraordinarily impressive attempt at recreating the intellectual stages the political philosopher Eric Voegelin experienced when writing the five volumes of his multi-civilizational work Order and History (1956-87). Even more surprising than this successful hermeneutic reenactment of Voegelin’s comparative study of pharaonic Egypt, ancient Israel, classical Greece and the ecumenic empires of the Axis and post-Axis period, is his attempt to elucidate how Voegelin struggled to include the multi-dimensional history of the Chinese civilization in his study. Liu attempts to fill in the gaps that were left in Voegelin’s inclusion of Chinese history since the Qin dynasty, in 221 BCE, unified the warring kingdoms. He further broadens Voegelin’s reading of the importance of the Confucian and Taoist meaning narratives, illustrating the truly universal character of the scholar’s work.”
“This is an important, welcome addition to the interpretive literature concerning the political thought of Eric Voegelin. It is a significant, well-informed study of three millennia of Chinese symbols and conceptions of social and political order understood through the lens of Voegelin’s theories regarding such order. It thereby fills in a gap among contemporary studies that have been conducted in that vein with a primary focus on the West. Of equal importance, it demonstrates convincingly the continuing, critical importance of Voegelin’s work and contemporary expansions of that scholarship for a clear and scientifically accurate understanding of current global political contestations in a comparative civilizational and ecumenical context.”
Eric Voegelin on China and the Universal Humanity is one of the rare instances where political philosophy intersects with empirical analysis in a comparative context. By showing how the study of China changed Voegelin’s analytic paradigm, Liu illuminates the insights and limitations of Voegelin’s attempt to devise a theory of a universal humanity that included nonwestern civilizations. For those interested in this question, as well as how China has historically understood itself, this book is required reading and establishes the foundation for future inter-civilizational dialogue in the search for our common humanity.
Muen Liu’s book Eric Voegelin on China and Universal Humanity: A Study of Voegelin’s Hermeneutic Empirical Paradigm offers a comprehensive and compelling account of Voegelin’s theory of order. The author skillfully analyzes Voegelin’s interpretation of order experience and symbols, along with his philosophy of consciousness, highlighting the comprehensive and dynamic nature of Voegelin’s theory of order. Notably, the author provides a detailed examination of Voegelin's analysis of traditional Chinese order from a comparative perspective, which not only fills an academic gap concerning Voegelin’s significant work in “The Ecumenic Age” but also contributes to the exploration of political theory regarding diverse socio-political order patterns and universal humanity. In doing so, this book aims to explore a culturally non-specific paradigm for understanding equivalent order-searching practices and patterns in the Global Age, especially China and the West.