Chinese philosophy in its contemporary practices. Transformations in the spiritual and psychological sphere

Begin - Einde 
2016 - 2024 (lopend)



Philosophy, understood as a branch of science that assist an authentic life, has both a theoretical and practical face. Practical philosophy is the use of philosophical vocabulary and reasoning, for example in daily human interactions and various educational settings. It can take several forms, including reflective practice, everyday life wisdom, and – more recently - philosophical counseling. 

Being practical at its core, ancient Chinese philosophy describes a variety of practices and insights for becoming a morally upright (Confucianism), and / or healthily detached (Daoism) person. In these practices, change and transformation – as inherent to the Chinese worldview – play a crucial role. Confucian self-cultivation has throughout intellectual history been debated as a life-long path for moral education, and for giving meaning to human life through proper ritual behavior. Daoist self- transformation is described as a spiritual practice in which through several stages of conscious cultivation of the heart-mind (xin), the practitioner aims at stopping the normal functioning of the five senses and the differentiating activity of the reason. Such practices in one or another way emphasize change or growth as a process, as a constant interaction between the natural world and the human and social condition, in order to find a healthy personal and social balance. 

Many aspects of these more theoretical (intellectual) ‘practical’ descriptions have in contemporary China and Taiwan taken on a different role or meaning as everyday life moral, spiritual and health wisdom, and even as basis for psychotherapy. This project focusses on the changes in theoretical paradigms and approaches in such practices informed by the dynamics of modernization, globalization and at the same time indigenization. The project also intends to show how ancient concepts of change and transformation are in contemporary Chinese societies concretely experienced and deployed in the moral, spiritual and psychological sphere. 

Two researches are ongoing, of which one in the psychological field, and one in the field of body-based health strategies. These projects also deal with mental and physical health.  See also under subprojects. 

  1. Daoism and Confucianism-based psychotherapies in China. 
  2. Body-based practices in working with young people: the case of China and Taiwan.