On Small and Large Vessels
Anthropological Difference according to Matteo Ricci and Zhu Xi
Keywords:anthropological difference, Zhu Xi, Matteo Ricci, Neo-Confucianism, Jesuit acccomodationism, non-human
The following paper offers a comparative study of Song Neo-Confucian and late Ming Jesuit arguments on the exceptionality of human beings and the role played by non-human others in the process of producing the discursive premises of the anthropological difference. It focuses on the arguments made by Zhu Xi (朱熹, 1130‒1200) and Matteo Ricci (1552‒1610) in favour of a claim that there is something particular about being human. Its historical premise is that the Jesuit missionary activity in China resulted in a peculiar encounter between the scholastic tradition, based on Aristotle’s philosophy, and Confucian teachings. In case of Chinese as well as Western philosophical discourse, the figure of the non-human other has played an important role in establishing the very meaning of being human.
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