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The Humean Way to China: Beyond the Stereotype

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David Hume seems to receive several stereotypes and commonplace sentiments about China regarding its religion, national character, government, practices and economy, that he goes on to dismantle. Doing so, he allows the eighteenth-century reader to look at China from a different perspective. This perspective can still be useful especially today, when the “immense distance” between China and Europe has been reduced and, as Hume would say, almost everything we use is Chinese. In the name of an ambivalent European tradition, we are often inclined to revive these commonplace sentiments (for example, the uniformity of Chinese character) and neglect that part of our own tradition that tries to understand what is behind them and that also offers us the tools to go beyond them. This study endeavors to assemble an array of Hume’s scattered remarks, consider them in their context, and explore their possible sources in order to obtain not only a more Humean China, but also a more Chinese Hume.

Affiliations: 1: Department of HumanitiesInternational University of Language and Media Via Carlo Bo 4 20143 MilanItalyE-mail:


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