Sinologism in Language Philosophy: A Critique of the Controversy over Chinese Language
Abstract

Abstract:

Sinologism is basically a cultural unconscious in China-West studies predicated on an inner logic that operates beyond our conscious awareness but controls the ways of observing China and producing China scholarship. Its logic has exerted a profound impact on studies of Chinese language and writing. Since medieval times the difference between Chinese and Western languages has been viewed as a conceptual divide that separates Chinese and Western traditions. It has motivated scholars to generate a considerable array of ideas, views, and arguments on Chinese language and writing. These dazzling views operate on the logic of Sinologism: conditions of Chinese language are to be investigated from the Western linguistic point of view, and the nature of Chinese writing is to be determined in terms of Western alphabetic languages. This article reexamines the enduring controversy over the nature of Chinese language, especially writing, with the aim to see why the long-lasting debates have come to no satisfactory conclusion. By demonstrating how the epistemology and methodology predicated on phonocentrism and logocentrism in Western metaphysics have evolved into the logic of a language philosophy that manages to misunderstand and misrepresent Chinese language, especially writing, it explores how we can move out of the war of discourse and come to an adequate understanding of the true nature of Chinese language. It suggests that to be self-consciously aware of the hidden logic of Sinologism is the sine qua non for going beyond the war of discourse over Chinese language.