Tiantai Buddhist "Pessimism" and Chinese Modernities


ACLS Fellowship Program


Philosophy/Religion (Joint Appointment)

Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


There has been a sharp increase in interest, both scholarly and popular, in the formerly neglected Tiantai school of Buddhism in the past ten years, in both Taiwan and the PRC. The forms taken by these works show fascinating divergences; in Taiwan, showing the influence of Mou Tsung-san's Kantian Neo-Confucianism and mainstream Buddhist preoccupations, in the PRC the influence of local Zhejiang cultural revivalism and post-Marxist Hegelianism. These modern handlings of Tiantai, itself a doctrine especially attuned to the hermeneutic problems of recontextualization and reappropriation, are an important litmus test for understanding the divergent developments of these modern Chinese cultural sensibilities. My project is devoted to charting these differences.