Although Freud makes only occasional, brief references to China and Chinese culture in his works, for almost a hundred years many leading Chinese intellectuals have studied and appropriated various Freudian theories. However, whilst some features of Freud’s views have been warmly embraced from the start and appreciated for their various explanatory and therapeutic values, other aspects have been vigorously criticized as implausible or inapplicable to the Chinese context.
This book explores the history, reception, and use of Freud and his theories in China, and makes an original and substantial contribution to our understanding of the Chinese people and their culture as well as to our appreciation of western attempts to understand the people and culture of China. The essays are organised around three key areas of research. First, it examines the historical background concerning the China-Freud connection in the 20th century, before going on to use reconstructed Freudian theories in order to provide a modernist critique of Chinese culture. Finally, the book deploys traditional Chinese thought in order to challenge various aspects of the Freudian project. Both Freudianism’s universal appeal and its cultural particularity are in full display throughout the book. At the same time, the allure of Chinese cultural and literary expressions, both in terms of their commonality with other cultures and their distinctive characteristics, are also scrutinized.
This collection of essays will be welcomed by those interested in early modern and contemporary China, as well as the work and influence of Freud. It will also be of great interest to students and scholars of psychology, psychoanalysis, literature, philosophy, religion, and cultural studies more generally.
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Tao Jiang is Associate Professor and Chair of the Religion Department at Rutgers University, USA.
Philip J. Ivanhoe is Professor of Philosophy at City University of Hong Kong.
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