History of Analytic Philosophy International Network (HAPINet)

Lead Research Organisation: University of York


Analytic philosophy is generally regarded as one of the leading philosophical traditions in the English-speaking world, and it has also been growing in the rest of the world, most notably, over the last decade or so, in mainland China, following its earlier establishment in Taiwan. It is the main aim of this proposed network to investigate the historical and philosophical significance of these developments by comparing the history of analytic philosophy in China and Taiwan with its history in the West.

Analytic philosophy in the West originated in the advances in logic that took place in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Around this time, too, China began to open up to Western influence, and terms from Western logic were translated into Chinese, inspiring not only work on logic in China but also interest in the logical aspects of traditional Chinese philosophy. A Chinese tradition of logic came to be constructed, and debates took place concerning the relationship between Chinese logic and Western and Indian logic. The Japanese invasion of China in 1937, the Second World War, the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, and then especially the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976, hindered the further development of dialogue with the West; but in the last two decades mainland China has increasingly opened up, with Western philosophers being invited to teach and speak at conferences in China, and more and more translations of key Western texts being undertaken.

In the English-speaking world, and especially in analytic philosophy, translation is all too often taken for granted, yet the translation of philosophical texts not only requires philosophical skills but also raises philosophical questions that are easily overlooked if working in just one language. One of the aims of the present project is to identify and explore precisely these questions. For example, basic terms concerning meaning (e.g. 'content', 'sense', 'reference', 'denotation', etc.) can be very usefully investigated by considering how they might be translated into different languages; and their translation into Chinese raises particular difficulties due to the different nature and structure of the Chinese language and the different culture in which that language has developed. Exploring the ways that basic terms of analytic philosophy have been - and are being - translated into Chinese can thus throw much light on the most fundamental ideas and implicit assumptions of analytic philosophy.

Four workshops/conferences are planned: two to be held in York (summer 2014 and spring 2015) and two to be held in Beijing (autumn 2014 and autumn 2015). These will bring together analytic philosophers and historians of analytic philosophy in the West (especially in the UK) and in China (both mainland China and Taiwan). One workshop, in particular, will bring together the translators of The Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy (edited by Michael Beaney and published in 2013), which is currently being translated into Chinese under the directorship of Prof. Jiang Yi of Beijing Normal University, supported by a grant from the Chinese government. Some of the original contributors to the Handbook will be invited to Beijing to explore with the translators some of the key philosophical issues that have arisen in undertaking this translation.

The project will be managed by a committee made up of the PI, Ci and representatives from other universities in Beijing, Taipei and the UK. The management committee will meet at each of the workshops and conferences. The project has the firm support from philosophers and universities in both Beijing and Taipei.

Planned Impact

Analytic philosophy has long been seen as the preserve of western Anglo-Saxon society. Though little is currently known about the subject outside academia in non-western societies, interest is clearly growing, as evidenced by the commitment of the project partners. In an attempt to enhance understanding, appreciation and engagement beyond academia the project has approached the British Council (as the project clearly aligns with the British Council agenda as "the UK's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations") to ask whether they would be prepared to host accessible and open public lectures in Beijing and in Taipei on the subject of western analytic philosophy.

The lectures will be based upon the research but aimed at the general public curious to learn more about western philosophical culture. The lectures will be recorded and, if possible, filmed, and made available on the University project website.

There is little appreciation and understanding of Chinese responses to western analytic philosophy in this country. Accordingly the project will endeavour to secure involvement by the British Council in London and to present (in English) a public lecture on Chinese analytic philosophy.
There will, therefore, be two beneficiaries from the project: the British Council and interested members of the public in China, Taiwan, and the UK. The project will enable the British Council to host an event that, without the research project, would not be possible. The public in China and in the UK will both benefit from an enhanced understanding, appreciation and opportunity to engage with analytic philosophy and Chinese developments in analytic philosophy. The public impact will be enhanced in China through the publication, in Chinese, and distribution of the Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy.


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Beaney M (2016) Influences on the Aufbau

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Beaney M (2014) Philosophy

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Beaney M (2015) Soames on Frege: provoking thoughts in Philosophical Studies

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Beaney M (2016) Historiography, Philosophy of History and the Historical Turn in Analytic Philosophy in Journal of the Philosophy of History

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Beaney M A (2016) The History of Philosophy

Description (1) A series of workshops involving Chinese and Western scholars of analytic philosophy was successfully held, which deepened our understanding of one another's ideas and approaches.
(2) Advice was provided on the Chinese translation of The Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy, ed. Michael Beaney (OUP, 2013), which also clarified a number of issues concerning philosophical translation, and some of the key differences between Chinese and English philosophical vocabulary. The Chinese translation has now been published (Chinese Social Science Press, December 2020).
(3) Further collaboration has resulted from the initial funding.
Exploitation Route Our initial network of Western and Chinese philosophers has now been broadened to include others, which bodes well for future collaboration.
The Chinese translation of the Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy, now published, will introduce the next generation of Chinese scholars to Western analytic philosophy.
Sectors Other

Description BSHP conference 2015 
Organisation Beijing Normal University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Hosting visitors from BNU at the BSHP conference held at the University of York in April 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Talks given at the BSHP conference (on history of analytic philosophy) in April 2015.
Impact Discussions held concerning the book on 'Analytic Philosophy in China' currently in preparation.
Start Year 2015
Description Conference at NTU 
Organisation National Taiwan University
Department Department of Philosophy
Country Taiwan, Province of China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Paper given at a conference on 'Logic and Epistemology at the National Taiwan University in November 2014.
Collaborator Contribution Contribution to the book mentioned below.
Impact Paper on 'Wittgenstein and Frege' by Michael Beaney to appear in Hans-Johann Glock and John Hyman, eds., A Companion to Wittgenstein, Oxford: Blackwell (2016). Contribution on the development of analytic philosophy in Taiwan by Eric Peng to appear in Michael Beaney and Jiang Yi, eds., Analytic Philosophy in China, currently being prepared.
Start Year 2014
Description Conferences involving PKU philosophers 
Organisation Peking University
Department Department of Philosophy
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Talks given at a conference organised at Peking University in October 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Talks given at a conference organised at the University of York in June 2014.
Impact Abstracts or drafts of the papers for the conference at PKU in October 2015 were published in a conference booklet. Final versions will appear in various places.
Start Year 2011
Description Translation of Handbook 
Organisation Beijing Normal University
Department College of Philosophy & Sociology
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Philosophical advice was given to the Chinese translators of The Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy (ed. Michael Beaney, OUP, 2013), at two workshops held in Beijing in autumn 2014 and autumn 2015.
Collaborator Contribution The Chinese translators discussed their understanding of key concepts and debates in analytic philosophy and the issues raised by their translation into Chinese. Some of this will be published in the forthcoming book mentioned below.
Impact A co-edited book (by Michael Beaney and Jiang Yi) is currently being prepared entitled 'Analytic Philosophy in China'.
Start Year 2014