New Philosophy Center Aims to Bridge American – Chinese Gap

The Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center is an initiative launched to “look past contemporary political differences” between the United States and China “to their deeper intellectual roots.” A project of the Berggruen Institute, the Philosophy and Culture Center

will include a fellowship program between Chinese and American universities; an “ideas contest,” co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute; and an annual $1 million philosophy prize awarded by an international jury

reports The New York Times.

Nicholas Berggruen, the billionaire investor behind the Philosophy and Culture Center, says:

We want to have an impact in a world that is becoming more and more fractured culturally and politically… It’s so clear that different political traditions really come from different cultures, from different views of the world, which in the end have to do with philosophy, with religion, with thinking in general.

The Center’s academic board contains a number of philosophers.

You can learn more at the Center’s website.

UPDATE (9/20/15): Huffington Post has an article with some more detailed information about the Center and its programs.

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Taiwanese Philosopher
Taiwanese Philosopher
8 years ago

Whoa. The former premier of TAIWAN, REPUBLIC OF CHINA, Yi-Huah Jiang, is one of the beginning fellows, erroneously cited as the former premier of the PEOPLE’s Republic of China on the fellow website:
(here’s supporting evidence that he is indeed the former premier of Taiwan:
He is widely unpopular in Taiwan ( and stepped down after a landslide defeat of the KMT pro-China party. Given that he’s Taiwanese, I wonder how this Global Fellowship with the listed universities in China works.

Reply to  Taiwanese Philosopher
8 years ago

@Taiwanese Philosopher: What are you implicitly suggesting? Do you mean because he is unpopular in Taiwan, he is not suitable for being a fellow of this centre? That’s ad hominem fallacy! “Given that he’s Taiwanese, I wonder how this Global Fellowship with the listed universities in China works.” What do you mean? KMT = pro-China? Oh my God! One could be brain washed even in a democratic place.

Shen-yi Liao
8 years ago

As the article notes, the center is directed by political philosopher Daniel Bell, who may not be familiar to all audiences of this blog.

Daniel Bell is perhaps best known for his op-eds and academic publications defending the merits of China’s social and political system, which has been very much welcomed by the ruling elites. As a Globe and Mail article ( ) notes:

‘The article was music to the Communist Party’s ears. Lines of the Bell-Li essay were republished on the official Xinhua newswire several days later, amid hagiographies of Xi Jinping and the country’s other new leaders as they were introduced to the world last week.


“China apologist Daniel Bell strikes again,” Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, wrote on his Twitter account after the Financial Times essay. The Economist magazine compared Prof. Bell to Frank Goodnow, the American scholar who advised the ill-fated (and deeply corrupt) Kuomintang regime of Chiang Kai-shek. “To believe virtue always floats to the top in a system such as China’s is fantasy,” the magazine wrote.

Some Chinese Internet users, meanwhile, noted Prof. Bell used some of the same arguments and terminology as state media, raising suspicions that his ideas weren’t entirely his own.’

Meanwhile, his latest book defending the Chinese social and political system was recently reviewed in a number of places, with not too dissimilar responses. For example, in this review ( ), it was said that

‘Readers wishing to weigh Bell’s arguments about China as a political meritocracy will be disappointed by the limited evidence presented to warrant the claim. The book offers no information on the structure of China’s nomenklatura personnel system; no data on examinations conducted as a condition of appointment or promotion; no time-series findings or analyses of patterns of actual recruitment, appointment or promotion to office; no correlation between appointment methods and performance in office – indeed, little evidence anchored in the actual world.’

Daniel Bell has also extended his efforts from philosophy to the social sciences. For example, he has constructed “The Harmony Index”, aiming to combat the Western way of measuring quality of life in evaluating a country’s progress. The index (available behind paywall at ) measures factors such as “harmony in the family” using data on suicide rates of the elderly, and survey data on “Whether one of main goals in life has been to make my parents proud”.