In China, rapid economic growth and social transformation have stimulated interest there in how societies have dealt with dramatic change. Some of China’s foremost scholars reached out to colleagues at Wesleyan, seeking to discuss the meaning of “tradition” in historical and philosophical perspectives.
“Wesleyan publishes History and Theory, the leading journal on the philosophy and theory of history in the Western world,” says Brian Fay, professor of philosophy, and the journal’s executive editor. “This subject area is intellectually and politically very important in China, and hence the journal was well known to them.”
It was in part because of History and Theory that a delegation from the Social Sciences in China Press, the publishing arm of the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences, visited Wesleyan in 2010. Fay, his co-editors of History and Theory, and President Roth spent much of a day with the delegation discussing opportunities for scholarly interaction. The result was a commitment to two conferences, one in China and a second in 2013 at Wesleyan.
Five weeks ago the first conference was convened in Beijing, with five Wesleyan scholars traveling to the city to discuss the concept of tradition: Stephen Angle, professor of philosophy, professor of East Asian Studies; Ethan Kleinberg, professor of history, professor of letters; Philip Pomper, William Armstrong Professor of History, Emeritus; Wesleyan President Michael Roth, university professor, who specializes in intellectual history; and Joseph Rouse, Hedding Professor of Moral Science, chair and professor, science in society, professor of philosophy. Five other western scholars also traveled to the conference to make presentations.
The event’s host, Professor Gao Xiang,