Blog post

Wang Hui Awarded the Luca Pacioli Award, jointly with Jürgen Habermas

Hélène Barthélemy21 October 2013

Wang Hui, author of The End of the Revolution: China and the Limits of Modernity and a leading thinker in what is considered China's New Left, was awarded the prestigious Luca Pacioli Award in Venice yesterday, conjointly with Jürgen Habermas. 

The Luca Pacioli Award, named after the mathematician, religious scholar, and Renaissance man Fra Luca de Pacioli, famous for his collaboration with Leonardo da Vinci, is awarded every year to an outstanding personality who produced knowledge in an international area. In the last years it has been granted to the economist Mario Draghi and to the archeologist Salvatore Settis.

In his acceptange speech, Wang Hui commented on the notion of universality and advised against the universalisation of categories of Western thought, analyzing their effect and links to Chinese perceptions of knowledge:
This pursuit of universality is also directly demonstrated in modern thought and its schematization of knowledge. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, almost all fields of knowledge in China were reconstructed when confronted with Western thought. I have summed up this process of reconstruction as the replacement of the heavenly principle (tianli) based on Confucianism and its values by the new general principle (gongli) based on modern science. Nonetheless, the fall of the view of the world based on heavenly principle and the rise of the scientific world view was not a simple relationship of rise and fall, but a co-existence, with each permeating the other.
Wang Hui ended his speech by asking his audience to start developing new approaches and move away from reductive notions such as World History:

This is the moment of the collapse of “World History,” and at the same time the moment of rethinking world history.