Cognitive and Semiological Perspectives on European-Language Religious Categories and the Chinese Data, with Grégoire Espesset

April 10, 2024 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
McCune Hall, 6020 HSSB

Europeans who travel to foreign lands will use their native language to describe their experience. But how do intellectuals with a Western cultural and language background perceive and understand the religious phenomena they observe in East Asia? How does their mind process written or spoken information conveyed in foreign script and languages? This lecture will examine some facets of the cognitive and semiological relationship existing between the modern science of Sinology and source-language data, including the role of categories shaped by culture in the production of learned discourse, the proliferation of neologisms, the scientific value of the information produced, and the conditions of its reception by neighbouring disciplines in the humanities or the educated public.

Grégoire Espesset is associate member of the Groupe Sociétés Religions Laïcités (GSRL) in Paris. Trained in comparative history and Chinese philology, he received his Doctorate from the Université de Paris and his Habilitation (professorial thesis) from the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris. He has conducted research in Taiwan, Japan, Germany and France. His current work focuses on intellectual and literary production in imperial China from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages, the comparative epistemology of premodern China and the modern West, and contemporary European-language scholarly discourse on East Asia.