The “ Yijing” Dispute: Returning from Theory to Artistic Practice

Chinese Journal of Literary Criticism

No.2, 2018      


The “ Yijing” Dispute: Returning from Theory to Artistic Practice



Mao Xuanguo


There has been a trend in the study of “yijing” (artistic conception) that focuses on the dispute between concept definition and theoretical attribution, while ignores how it is connected to Chinese aesthetics and artistic practice. This trend has been further developed in recent years, which is either from the perspective of conceptual history to separate the category of “yijing” from the context of “yijing” as the embodiment of the spirit of Chinese aesthetics and concepts, and regards it as a value neutral concept; or in the name of hermeneutic Western doctrines associating “yijing” with Western theory, arguing  that the concept  of “yijing” constructed by the Chinese aestheticians in the 20th century is not related to traditional Chinese aesthetics but only a variant of Western aesthetics. Although the value of the dispute of conceptual history outline and theoretical attribution on the category of “artistic conception” cannot be denied, the dispute must be on the basis of Chinese aesthetics and artistic practice. Wang Guowei’s, Zong Baihua’s, Zhu Guangqian’s and Li Zehou’s constructions and discussions on the theory of “yijing” have absorbed some inspirations from modern Western and traditional Chinese aesthetics. However, they did not simply place it within a certain theoretical framework to illustrate theory and concept, but regarded the category as a summary of Chinese aesthetics and artistic practice and attached importance to its application in arts. The aesthetics of “yijing” we talk about today should continue this tradition to demonstrate the experience and style of Chinese aesthetics and through specific type and form of art and fully understand and experience the beauty of artistic aesthetics to enrich people’s lives and artistic creation.