“Concepts and Theories” Special Topic (Part 1): Theoretical Basis of Conceptual Research

Social Sciences in China Review

No.1, 2020


Concepts and Theories” Special Topic (Part 1): Theoretical Basis of Conceptual Research


Editors note: Concepts are the fruit of thoughts and constructive strength. Three professors, Guo Zhonghua, from the School of Political and Public Affairs Management of Sun Yat-Sen University; Fang Weigui, from the School of Arts of Beijing Normal University; and Guo Taihui, from the Institute of Ethnic Politics of Yunnan University, are invited to discuss the complex relationship between concepts and theories and to explore the theoretical basis of research on concepts. Guo Zhonghua points out that research on concepts is not only charged with revealing the way in which a particular concept participates in the construction of the era via conceptual history methodology; it also includes the principle of grasping how concepts are transformed into the actor’s everyday knowledge and behavior through a general theoretical perspective. The socialization of concepts is a process of interaction between professional knowledge and common knowledge which encompasses various possibilities. Fang Weigui argues that Hans-Georg Gadamer was the master of synthesis in studies of the conceptual history of philosophy. In Gadamers view, viewing conceptual history as philosophy should not be regarded as a new research method for the history of philosophy or an auxiliary method of philosophical research. Instead, it should be fully integrated into the philosophical corpus and become part of the core area of philosophical research. Guo Taihui takes The Historical Component of Concepts as an entry point, indicating that the “saddle period” hypothesis behind conceptual history needs to be reconsidered in order to scientifically evaluate the validity of conceptual history methodology for understanding the transformation of modern Chinese thought. Rather than being based on objective historical facts, the hypothetical “saddle period” is constrained by the subjective problem consciousness of the researcher or the contemporary collective historical unconsciousness, which determine the choice of historical facts.