François Jullien

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
François Jullien
François Jullien par Claude Truong-Ngoc octobre 2013.jpg
Born 2 June 1951
Embrun, Hautes-Alpes
Era Contemporary philosophy
Main interests
Chinese philosophy

François Jullien (born 2 June 1951) is a French philosopher and sinologist.


An alumnus of the École Normale Supérieure (Paris) and holder (since 1974) of the agrégation, France's professorial degree, François Jullien studied Chinese language and thought at Peking University and Shanghai University from 1975 to 1977. He received his French university doctorate (doctorat de troisième cycle) in 1978 and his French research doctorate (doctorat d'État) in Far East studies in 1983. Since then Jullien has been head of the Antenne Française de Sinologie in Hong Kong (1978–1981), a guest of the Maison Franco-Japonaise in Tokyo (1985–1987), president of the Association Française d'Etudes Chinoises (1988–1990), director of the East Asia department (UFR) of Paris Diderot University–Paris VII (1990–2000), president of the Collège International de Philosophie (1995–1998), professor at Paris Diderot University, and director of both the Institut de la Pensée Contemporaine and the Centre Marcel-Granet. He was a senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France from 2001 to 2011 and is the current Chair of Alterity at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (Paris). Jullien has edited several anthologies for the Presses Universitaires de France (PUF) and for the Agenda de la Pensée Contemporaine, the latter published first by PUF, then by Éditions Hermann. Several conferences dealing with his philosophy have been held in France and abroad (Germany, Argentina, China, Vietnam). Among the most recent are:

  • "Dérangements-aperçus: autour du travail de François Jullien" (conference proceedings published by Hermann, 2011), at Paris Diderot University and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (December 2010)
  • "Dialogue au sommet" with Chung-ying Cheng (proceedings published as Sixiang yu fangfa, December 2014), at the Beijing Normal University (December 2012)
  • "Des possibles de la pensée, l'itinéraire philosophique de François Jullien" (proceedings to be published by Hermann, 2015), in Cerisy-la-Salle (September 2013)
  • A conference at the Academia Sinica, Taiwan (November 2013; proceedings to be published by the Academia Sinica in spring 2015).

Jullien received the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought in Germany in 2010 and the Grand Prix de Philosophie of the Académie Française for his body of work in 2011. Marcel Gauchet has summed up François Jullien's work in the following terms: "The work of François Jullien seems to me to follow the grand lines of the unwritten but oh-so-influential program of what I shall call the twentieth-century anthropological school. Primarily but not exclusively French, this school came to fruition in the work of Durkheim, Mauss, Granet, Lévi-Strauss, and a few others as well. It is, in a word, the school of Western decentralization. [...] These various undertakings have made it possible for us to conceive of an "outside" ["dehors"], to borrow a particularly felicitous term from François Jullien. [...] But François Jullien is not content to contribute to this most difficult of enterprises. He has brought the decentralization to its fulfilment, for he has turned it back on the West. In particular, he has done this in the field of philosophy, something no one had ever done before, and by taking on China's alterity, which, it must be said, provided a privileged standpoint. He has thus carried decentralization further than his predecessors. He has shown us how to look from 'elsewhere' at our most theoretical and abstract thought, dealing with the fundamental categories that allow us to apprehend any object spontaneously. He has become the ethnologist of our conceptual universe.".[1] When Jullien was awarded the Grand Prix de Philosophie of the Académie Française (2011), Angelo Rinaldi presented his work as follows: "The variety of subjects this philosopher-sinologist has taken on could lead one to imagine a scattershot oeuvre. On the contrary, there is in François Jullien's work a strong unity of thought and a clear progression. Pierre Nora sums it up in a phrase: the thought that lies between China and Greece. The purpose, indeed, is to consider the unthought-of in our thought, which has arisen on the foundations laid by Greece. To this end, China offers an oblique way in, a chance to redirect our gaze upon ourselves and see ourselves from without. The priority for François Jullien is to constitute this exteriority, and the remainder of his work consists of a reevaluation of the foundations of European thought. Awaiting us at the far end of this road are the general questions that interest us all directly: does 'the universal' exist, what might we hold in 'common,' what is the meaning of 'unity,' 'difference,' or 'conformity'? What we now call the 'dialogue of cultures' is clearly at the center of this philosopher's concerns, and it is this ever-present theme that makes him relevant for us today." François Jullien is among the most translated of contemporary thinkers, with works appearing in some twenty-five countries. More than twenty of his essays have been translated into German, Italian, and Spanish, and a dozen have been translated into English, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Portuguese.[2]


Since first setting out to explore the "écart" between them, François Jullien has been organizing a vis-à-vis between Chinese and European thought, rather than comparing the two, so as to map out a common field for reflection. In so doing he has been led to examine such various disciplines as ethics, aesthetics, strategy, history, and the study of nature. His aim in conducting this "deconstruction" from without (du déhors) is to detect buried assumptions, on both sides, as well as to elucidate the unthought-of (l'impensé) in our thought. This is, moreover, a way to coax forth the fecundities (fécondités) of the two cultures, rather than consider them from the perspective of their "identity," and a way to launch philosophy anew by extricating it from the bog of its atavisms. The enterprise has not failed to raise hackles in philosophical and orientalist circles. In response to his opposition, François Jullien has argued that starting with similitude (le semblable) is fruitless and that the exploration of "écarts" is what can provide the thinker with a certain remove, bring forth a middle ground (l'entre), reveal a tension between the two sides, and thus produce commonality (le commun). François Jullien has since taken this philosophy of what lies between (pensée de l'entre) and developed a philosophy of life (philosophie du "vivre"), which departs explicitly from the philosophy of being and requires the establishment of a tension (mise en tension). Over the past few years he has in particular developed—in terms both of intimacy (l'intime) and of landscape (paysage)—a philosophy of soaring (l'essor), which he sets in opposition to the slackness (l'étale) of life. For an overview of Jullien's work, see De l'Être au vivre, lexique euro-chinois de la pensée, Gallimard, March 2015.


François Jullien's work has been criticized by certain sinologists, chief among them Jean-François Billeter. The two principal texts published by Billeter against Jullien and his method are:

  • "Comment lire Wang Fuzhi?" This article attacks the book Procès ou création (1989). Jullien's reply appears in "Lecture ou projection: Comment lire (autrement) Wang Fuzhi?"
  • Contre François Jullien (2006). This book attacks the entirety of Jullien's work. In response Jullien published Chemin faisant, connaître la Chine, relancer la philosophie (Seuil, 2007). In addition, Les Empêcheurs de Penser en Rond published an anthology of articles by several intellectuals, including Alain Badiou, titled Oser construire : Pour François Jullien, and Jean-Hugues Larché (co-author with Philippe Sollers of Nietzsche, miracle français) produced a DVD titled Disponibilité de la pensée chinoise.

Replies and arguments[edit]

François Jullien at the International Geography Festival of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, October 2013

François Jullien's reply to the charge that he portrays China as "an alterity" appears in Chemin faisant, Connaître la Chine, relancer la philosophie. There he argues that the unreferenced quotations used by Jean-François Billeter are fabrications and that Billeter attempts to construct an imaginary version of François Jullien's work against which to set his own position. The crux of Jullien's argument is that exteriority and alterity are not to be conflated. China's exteriority, Jullien's point of departure, is, he argues, evident in its language as well as in its history, whereas alterity must be constructed and is equally relevant, as internal heterotopia, to both Europe and China. Rather than relegate China to a separate, isolated world, Jullien claims to weave a problematics between China and Europe, a net that can then fish out an unthought-of (un impensé) and help create the conditions for a new reflexivity (réflexivité) between the two cultures. Jullien has dealt with the question of criticizing Chinese ideology several times in his work: La Propension des choses, chapter II; Le Détour et l'accès, chapters I to VI; Un sage est sans idée, final pages; etc. He thus separates his approach to China from fascination with strangeness or exoticism and rejects the image of China as an "other." Jullien cautions against an approach like that of Jean-François Billeter, which he characterizes as dipping into a "common fund" of thought and thus as overlooking the benefits of a diversity of human thought, which for Jullien is its very wellspring. Thus, he argues, we must reject both facile universalism and lazy relativism in favor of a "dia-logue" of the two cultures: the "dia" of the "écart," which reveals the fecundity of multiple lines of thought, and the "logos," which allows these lines to communicate through a common intelligence. For a collective reply to the criticism of Jean-François Billeter, see Oser construire, Pour François Jullien, with notable contributions from Philippe d'Iribarne, Jean Allouche, Jean-Marie Schaeffer, Wolfgang Kubin, Du Xiaozhen, Léon Vandermeersch, Bruno Latour, Paul Ricœur, and Alain Badiou.


  • Lu Xun. Écriture et révolution, Presses de l’École Normale Supérieure, 1979.
  • La Valeur allusive. Des catégories originales de l’interprétation poétique dans la tradition chinoise, École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 1985.
  • La Chaîne et la trame. Du canonique, de l’imaginaire et de l’ordre du texte en Chine, Extrême-Orient/Extrême-Occident, no. 5, 11 and 12, Presses Universitaires de Vincennes; new edition in the Quadrige collection, PUF, 2004.
  • Procès ou Création. Une introduction à la pensée des lettrés chinois, Seuil, 1989.
  • Éloge de la fadeur. À partir de la pensée et de l’esthétique de la Chine, Philippe Picquier, 1991. Translated as In Praise of Blandness: Proceeding from Chinese Thought and Aesthetics, Zone Books, 2007.
  • La Propension des choses. Pour une histoire de l’efficacité en Chine, Seuil, 1992. Translated as The Propensity of Things: Toward a History of Efficacy in China, Zone Books, 1995.
  • Figures de l’immanence. Pour une lecture philosophique du Yi king, Grasset, 1993.
  • Le Détour et l’Accès. Stratégies du sens en Chine, en Grèce, Grasset, 1995. Translated as Detour and Access: Strategies of Meaning in China and Greece, MIT Press, 2004.
  • Fonder la morale. Dialogue de Mencius avec un philosophe des Lumières, Grasset, 1995.
  • Traité de l’efficacité, Grasset, 1997. Translated as A Treatise on Efficacy, University of Hawaii Press, 2004.
  • Un sage est sans idée ou L’Autre de la philosophie, Seuil, 1998
  • De l’Essence ou Du nu, Seuil, 2000. Translated as The Impossible Nude: Chinese Art and Western Aesthetics, University of Chicago Press, 2007.
  • Du « temps ». Éléments d’une philosophie du vivre, Grasset, 2001.
  • La Grande image n’a pas de forme ou Du non-objet par la peinture, Seuil, 2003. Translated as The Great Image Has No Form, or On the Nonobject through Painting, University of Chicago Press, 2012.
  • L’ombre au tableau. Du mal ou du négatif, Seuil, 2004
  • Nourrir sa vie. À l’écart du bonheur, Seuil, 2005. Translated as Vital Nourishment: Departing from Happiness, Zone Books, 2007.
  • Conférence sur l’efficacité, PUF, 2005.
  • Si parler va sans dire. Du logos et d’autres ressources, Seuil, 2006.
  • Chemin faisant, connaître la Chine, relancer la philosophie. Réplique à ***, Seuil, 2006.
  • De l’universel, de l’uniforme, du commun et du dialogue entre les cultures, Fayard, 2008. Translated as On the Universal, the Common and Dialogue between Cultures, Polity, 2014.
  • L’invention de l’idéal et le destin de l’Europe, Seuil, 2009.
  • Les Transformations silencieuses, Grasset, 2009.
  • Cette étrange idée du beau, Grasset, 2010. Translated as This Strange Idea of the Beautiful, Seagull Books, 2015.
  • Le Pont des singes (De la diversité à venir). Fécondité culturelle face à identité nationale, Galilée, 2010.
  • Philosophie du vivre, Gallimard, 2011.
  • Entrer dans une pensée ou Des possibles de l’esprit, Gallimard, 2012.
  • L’écart et l’entre. Leçon inaugurale de la Chaire sur l’altérité, Galilée, 2012.
  • Cinq concepts proposés à la psychanalyse, Grasset, 2012.
  • De l’intime. Loin du bruyant Amour, Grasset, 2013.
  • Vivre de paysage ou L’impensé de la Raison, Gallimard, 2014.


  • Lu Xun, Fleurs du matin cueillies le soir, Alfred Eibel, 1976
  • Lu Xun, Sous le dais fleuri, Alfred Eibel, 1978
  • Zhong Yong ou la Régulation à usage ordinaire [translation and commentary], Imprimerie Nationale, 1993.

Secondary literature[edit]

  • Marchaisse, Thierry (interviewer), Penser d’un dehors (La Chine), Entretiens d’Extrême-Occident, Seuil, 2000.
  • Der Umweg über China, Ein Ortswechsel des Denkens, Merve Verlag, 2002.
  • Apo ten Ellada sten Kina, metabase kai epanodos, Exantas, 2002.
  • Du Xiaozhen, Yuanqu yu guilai, Dialogue entre la Grèce et la Chine, sur la recherche du philosophe français François Jullien, Zhongguo renmin daxue chubanshe, 2004.
  • Dépayser la pensée, Dialogues hétérotopiques avec François Jullien sur son usage philosophique de la Chine (texts by G. Samama, J.-F. Lyotard, Le Huu Khoa, J.-M. Schaeffer, T. Marchaisse, L. Vandermeersch, M. Bitbol, R. Lanselle, P. Ricœur), Les Empêcheurs de Penser en Rond (distribution by Seuil), 2003.
  • L’Indifférence à la psychanalyse, Sagesse du lettré chinois, désir du psychanalyste : rencontres avec François Jullien (texts by L. Cornaz, P. Hassoun, R. Abibon, O. Natahi, H. Fontana, O. Douville, M. Guibal, and T. Marchaisse), Presses Universitaires de France, 2004.
  • Furen Daxue di er jie hanxue guoji yantaohui « qi yan qu er zhong : hanxue zuowei dui Xifang de xin quanshi — Faguo de gongxian », Le Détour et l’accès : la sinologie en tant que nouvelle herméneutique pour l’Occident – la contribution française (international conference on the work of François Jullien, Fu Jen University, Taiwan, November 5–6, 2004; texts by Pierre Chartier, Philippe Jousset, Alain Riou, Wolfgang Kubin); bilingual edition (Chinese-French)
  • Monumenta Serica, français-chinois, June 2005.
  • Fernandez Diaz, Natalia, La China da que pensar, Anthropos, 2005.
  • Chine / Europe, Percussions dans la pensée (anthology based on the work of François Jullien, with contributions from 19 authors, including Alain Badiou, Patrice Bollon, Daniel Bougnoux, André Chieng, Benoït Heilbrunn, Philippe Jousset, and Wolfgang Kubin), Presses Universitaires de France, 2005.
  • Sang Viên Dông… Tro Vê Viên Tây, François Jullien, passeur de concepts, concepteur de rencontres, proceedings of the international conference organized by Hue University, Vietnam, in May 2005, Nhà Xuât Ban, Da Nang, 2005.
  • Chieng, André, La pratique de la Chine, en compagnie de François Jullien, Grasset, 2006.
  • Billeter, Jean-François, Contre François Jullien, Allia, 2006.
  • Jousset, Philippe, L’œuvre en cours de François Jullien, un déplacement philosophique, Philosophie Ouverte collection, L’Harmattan, 2007.
  • Oser construire, Pour François Jullien (Contributions from François Gaillard, Philippe d’Iribarne, Jean Allouch, Patrick Hochart, Philippe Jousset, Jean-Marie Schaeffer, Lin Chi-Ming, Wolfgang Kubin, Ramona Naddaff, Du Xiaozhen, Léon Vandermeersch, Bruno Latour, Paul Ricœur, and Alain Badiou), Les Empêcheurs de Penser en Rond, 2007.
  • Penser l’ « autre » : dialogue autour de la pensée de François Jullien (proceedings of the international conference organized by Peking University, October 15–17, 2007), Du Xiaozhen , Peking University Press, 2011.
  • Ghilardi, Marcello (ed.), François Jullien, Pensare con la Cina, Mimesis, Milan-Udine, 2007.
  • An Na Truong Thi; VoXuan Ninh; Cortès, Jacques, "François Jullien et le public vietnamien," Synergies Monde, Gerflint, #3, 2008.
  • Fauconnier, Dominique (ed.), "Les apports de la pensée chinoise au pilotage par les processus, réflexion menée à partir des travaux de François Jullien," Les Dossiers du Club des Pilotes de Processus, October 2008.
  • "Autour de De l’universel, de l’uniforme, du commun et du dialogue entre les cultures de François Jullien" (contributions from Marcel Gauchet, Hervé Juvin, Philippe Raynaud, and Léon Vandermeersch), Le Débat, Gallimard, p. 157–192.
  • Hoang Ngoc Hien, Nha Xuat Ban Laodong, François Jullien & Nghiên cuu so sanh, Van Hoa, Dông-Tây, 2009.
  • Martin, Nicolas; Spire, Antoine, Chine, la dissidence de François Jullien, p. 312, Seuil, 2011.
  • "François Jullien, retour de Chine" (texts by Mathieu Potte-Bonneville, Martin Rueff, and Daniel Bougnoux), Critique, March 2011.
  • Serrurier, Cécile (ed.); Bricout, Bernadette (preface), Dérangements-aperçus, autour du travail de François Jullien (contributions from Bernadette Bricout, Marcel Detienne, Marcel Gauchet, Patrick Hochart, Philippe Jousset, Étienne Klein, Frédéric Mantienne, Jean-Jacques Melloul, Mathieu Potte-Bonneville, Martin Rueff, Bernard Sichère, Léon Vandermeersch), conference proceedings, December 7–9, 2010, Hermann, 2011.
  • David, Pascal; Riou, Alain (eds.), En lisant François Jullien. La foi biblique au miroir de la Chine (with Thierry-Marie Courau, Pascal David, Jacques Fantino, Bernard Ganne, Antoine Guggenheim, François Jullien, Pascal Marin, Alain Riou, Bernard Sichère), Lethielleux, Paris, 2012.
  • Rigoni, Riccardo; Pasqualotto, Giangiorgio (preamble); Jullien, François (preface), Tra Cina ed Europa. Filosofia dell' « écart » ed etica della traduzione nel pensiero di François Jullien, Mimesis, Milan-Udine 2014.

Selected articles and interviews[edit]

  • "Universels, les droits de l'homme?" Le Monde Diplomatique, February 2008.
  • Le Magazine littéraire, no. 339, p. 20.
  • "Traité de l'efficacité," Le Magazine littéraire, no. 356, p. 131.
  • "Du 'temps,' éléments d'une philosophie du vivre," Le Magazine littéraire, no. 398, p. 99–103.
  • "La Grande Image n'a pas de forme ou du non-objet par la peinture," Le Magazine littéraire, no. 420, p. 94.
  • "Dépayser la pensée : un détour par la Chine," interview with François Ewald, Le Magazine littéraire, no. 429, p. 30–33.
  • "Nourrir sa vie, À l'écart du bonheur," Le Magazine littéraire, no. 444, p. 88.
  • "La voie du désir," Le Magazine littéraire, no. 455, July–August 2006.
  • "Un usage philosophique de la Chine," interview with Marcel Gauchet, Le Débat, no. 91, 1996.
  • "De la Grèce à la Chine, aller-retour," Le Débat, no. 116, 2001.
  • "Penser entre la Chine et la Grèce : nouveaux chantiers," Le Débat, no. 143, 2007.

In Le Débat[edit]

  • De la Grèce à la Chine, aller-retour, extract from Le Débat, no. 116, Gallimard, Paris, September–October 2001.
  • Penser entre la Chine et la Grèce : nouveau chantier, extract from Le Débat, no. 143, Gallimard, Paris, January–February 2007.
  • Autour de l'universel, de l'uniforme, du commun et du dialogue entre les cultures, extract from Le Débat, no. 153, Gallimard, Paris, January–February 2009.
  • Interview with Antoine Spire, Le Monde de l'éducation, September 2003.
  • "Une déconstruction du dehors : De la Grèce à la Chine, aller-retour," La Vocation philosophique, Centre Pompidou, Bayard, 2004.
  • "Comprendre la puissance chinoise, un entretien avec le sinologue François Jullien," Le Monde 2, December 3, 2005, p. 21–27.

In other languages[edit]

  • Japanese: "Soto (Chügoku) kara kangaeru," Shisô, no. 2, 1999, p. 112–130.
  • Brazilian Portuguese: "Dossier François Jullien," Ethica, vol. 9 nos. 1–2, 2002, p. 83–107.
  • German: Haase, Amine, "Vom Umweg über China, ein Gespräch mit dem Französischen philosophen und sinologen François Jullien," Kunstforum, no. 173, 2004.
  • German: "Das Andere Europas, Felix Heidenreich im Gespräch mit François Jullien," Information Philosophie, 3/2005.
  • German: "Eine Dekonstruktion von aussen," Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, 4/2005, p. 523–539.
  • Chinese: "Wenhua chongji yu weilai de zhexue [Cultural Percussion and Philosophy in Future]," interview with François Jullien, Wenhua yanjiu, A Journal of Cultural Studies, #1, September 2005, p. 221–244.


  1. ^ Gauchet, Marcel, Dérangements-Aperçus, autour du travail de François Jullien, Hermann, p. 174, 175
  2. ^