New book discusses writings of philosopher Wu Kuang-ming

As editor of the new book China-West Interculture: Toward the Philosophy of World Integration, Jay Goulding, Chinese philosophy scholar in York’s Atkinson School of Social Sciences, explores contemporary philosopher Wu Kuang-ming’s insights on the potential harmony of world togetherness.

The launch for China-West Interculture (Global Scholarly Publications), co-hosted by the Founders College Intellectuals & Society Lecture Series and the York University Bookstore, will take place on Tuesday, March 24 from 3 to 5pm in the Founders Senior Common Room, 305 Founders College, Keele campus.

Goulding has studied Wu’s writings for over two decades, but it was a dream that first inspired the book. The dream involved the Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi from a Chinese cartoon series in which the philosopher turns into a butterfly man and flies to different areas of China telling legendary tales. When Goulding awoke, he says he immediately thought of Wu, who he had been trying unsuccessfully to reach at the time. When he opened his e-mail that same day, there was a message waiting from Wu.

“When I told Wu of the butterfly dream, he said that we were indeed kindred spirits,” says Goulding. “From that day on, I dreamt of putting this book together to honour the scholarship of Wu Kuang-ming.”

Wu (who retains traditional Chinese name order,  surname first) has written and taught about Chinese and comparative philosophy for 40 years at American universities, including Yale University and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, as well as universities in Taiwan. “I hope that assembling China-West Interculture will help readers share in a world interculture with the guidance of 15 scholars’ views,” says Goulding.

A scholar in Daoist philosophy and hermeneutic phenomenology, Wu has grappled with cultural clashes at their boundary for half a century, insisting that Chinese thinking be Chinese, not Western, and that this would lead to a fruitful China-West interculture. Wu was born into a Taiwan that was still under Japanese rule and then, following the Second World War, effectively independent. He studied at Yale University, where he faced a huge cultural shock.

The book delves into Wu’s belief that the world’s problems are intercultural and require sensitivity to cultural integrity to be resolved. China-West Interculture follows Wu’s personal and academic journey.

Left: Jay Goulding at the Gate of Philosophy at Beijing University

Section One, “Wu’s Autobiography”, lays out sharply and cogently the principle and operation of world integration that is disseminated throughout Section Two, “Essays Descriptive and Critical of Wu Kuang-ming’s Philosophy”, and culminates in Section Three, “Wu’s Responses”, says Goulding.

“Wu Kuang-ming frames the volume with an autobiography that shows his life mission as world integration of cultural integrities born of his multicultural upbringing, his cultural shock at Yale and the West, and his re-shock at Chinese philosophy that is Western philosophy in Chinese garb,” Goulding says.

Wu is the author of several books, including The Butterfly as Companion: Meditations of the First Three Chapters of the Chuange Tzu, On Chinese Body Thinking: A Cultural Hermeneutic and On the “Logic” of Togetherness: A Cultural Hermeneutic.

Goulding teaches Chinese and Japanese philosophy through hermeneutic phenomenology at York. He has been published in Beijing University’s Beida Gate of Philosophy, Anhui Normal University’s Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, China Review International and Asian Cinema.

Everyone is welcome to attend the lecture and following reception. RSVP to Michael Legris at by Friday, March 20.