On July 8th, 2019, invited by Prof Zhang Xianqing, Vice Dean of School of Sociology and An-thropology, Prof. Poo Mu-chou, Director of Center for the Comparative Study of Antiquity at the Research Institute for the Humanities of Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), gave a lecture titled the Observation of Comparative Study of World Civilization. This lecture was one of the lec-ture series orchestrated by the XMU-CIPSH Collaboration Office for the year of 2019.
Prof. Poo’s lecture was centered on topics of “Why do we need to conduct comparative study; how should we conduct comparative study; what should we compare; the strategies of comparative study; and a few case studies”.
As a prologue to the lecture, Prof. Poo firstly introduced popular views on comparative study advo-cated by two schools, namely a school that endorses comparative study and another school that op-poses. Then Prof. Poo illustrated his own point of views regarding comparative study. According to Prof. Poo, comparative study is an irreplaceable means to acquire knowledge and cognition. Only through comparative study, can people get to know how unique or how ordinary their own civiliza-tions are. Meanwhile, Prof. Poo pointed out that comparative study presented us with varied solu-tions our ancestors employed to dealing with similar situations occurred in the same time but in dif-ferent geographic locations. Furthermore, Prof. Poo mentioned that the purpose of comparative study was not meant to provide a description of phenomena but rather to provide logical reasoning and explanations. Lastly, he encouraged scholars from Asia to actively participate in comparative study, which, as predicted, would help rectify the west-centered status quo in academia.
During lecturing, Prof. Poo enumerated quite a few influential schools and their key representatives from both China and abroad, such as German philosopher Karl Jaspers and his cornerstone theory of Axial Age. Prof. Poo also recommended that all attendees should pay attention to breakthroughs that Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Lloyd from the University of Cambridge achieved in comparative studies of Greek and Chinese philosophy and science. Finally Prof Poo gave good remarks to emerging scholar Zhou Yiqun, professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford Univer-sity.
After the lecture, Prof. Poo answered questions from the audience and exchanged ideas with schol-ars who were present. Many thought-provoking questions were asked，such as “ How can we make headway in comparative study by incorporating multi-disciplines”, “Is Chinese civilization indigenous or imported”, and “the perceptions of western sinologists on ancient Chinese civiliza-tions”. The audience was impressed deeply by Prof. Poo’s rigorous academic attitude and dialectic ingenuity.
What’s also worth mentioning was a four-page book list that Prof Poo had prepared for all at-tendees. The book list is impressively inclusive with a wide range of authors and theirs hallmark works on comparative study spanning from the 1960s till 2018. This is undoubtedly a generous gift for all students and faculty at Xiamen University who are committed to comparative study.
At the end of the lecture, on behalf of the entire audience, Prof. Zhang thanked Prof. Poo for his inspirational sharing and contributions to comparative study.