Relation as the core of reality: The cultural conditionality of comprehension and Chinese epistemology

  • Jana S. Rošker University of Ljubljana
Keywords: classical epistemology, methodology of intercultural research, Orientalism, traditional and modern Chinese thought


In recent years, it has become clear to most people that ‘Western epistemology’ represents only one of many different forms of historically-transmitted social models for the perception and interpretation of reality. Unfortunately, in current intercultural research, it is still common to project elements of the contents and forms of discourses that have been overshadowed by the dominant political (and thus also economic) power, upon the research object. Thus, the present article introduces some specific ancient Chinese epistemological approaches to comprehension and tries to explain them in the context of traditional Chinese paradigms of relational epistemology. These specific Chinese theories of knowledge were based upon structural connections between language and perception, the external and internal world, as well as between men, nature and society. An approach such as this also proposes some alternative ways of perception and comprehension of reality beyond the limitations of individual modes of comprehension that prevailed in traditional European epistemologies.