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Beyond Imperial AestheticsTheories of Art and Politics in East Asia$
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Mayumo Inoue and Steve Choe

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455874

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455874.001.0001

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Asian Theory and European Humanity

Asian Theory and European Humanity

On the Question of Anthropological Difference

(p.23) 1 Asian Theory and European Humanity
Beyond Imperial Aesthetics

Naoki Sakai

Hong Kong University Press

Just like any civilization, Europe produces knowledge, but it is distinguished from other civilizations by its unique mode of operation in knowledge production. Until recently, Europe was proud of itself in its commitment to theory or philosophy at large: it used to claim that it was the only portion of humanity capable of reflecting upon itself, of criticizing and transforming constituted its own manner of knowledge production. Europeans regarded themselves as an exceptional kind of humanity capable of theory and called themselves humanitas in contrast to other types of humanity, anthropos: those who produce knowledge but are incapable of reflecting upon and criticizing their modus operandi in knowledge production. However, the central topic in this article is not about the dichotomy of humanitas and anthropos, which still shapes the disciplinary configuration of human sciences, but rather what has been generally referred to as the crisis of European humanity. It is increasingly difficult to sustain this exceptionalist notion of the West or European humanity. Simultaneously, it is difficult to sustain its obverse and equally exceptionalist notion of Asian culturalism. Through the examination of the crisis of European humanity, this article discusses what the status of theory can potentially mean as we seek to interrogate the identity formations called the West and Asia.

Keywords:   Theory, Are Studies, Particularity, Universality, Edmund Husserl, Takeuchi Yoshimi

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