Combining Marx with Kant: The philosophical anthropology of li Zehou

Philosophy East and West 49 (2):120-149 (1999)
Li Zehou is known as the "intellectual leader of the Chinese Enlightenment" of the 1980s. His major quest has always been for a way to define the role of human agency versus determinism on the one hand, and voluntarism on the other. In the 1980s, Li came forward with a philosophical anthropology (his "theory of subjectivity" or "practice") that moves between two poles: On the one hand, mankind is different from the animals because of its capacity to mold its own environment in a goal-directed way by means of "tools," which means that subjectivity is real if mankind can indeed to a great extent control its own destiny. On the other hand, human control over nature is subject to limitations that are largely determined by the level of technology and social organization in any given society at a certain time. Li attributes the widespread appeal of Maoist voluntarism in China to the persistence of the belief in the transformative power of the human will, unaided by science and technology
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