Workshops
[2014] Routledge Symposium: Machiavelli in East Asian Context

Celebrating the 130th Anniversary of Italy-Korea Diplomatic Relations
Routledge Series of Political Theories in East Asian Context
International Symposium 2014

Machiavelli in East Asian Context

Embassy of Italy in South Korea, the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, Soongsil University
2nd Seminar Room, the Member’s Hall at the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea
March 14, 2014

Theme Statement

We are experiencing what Colin Crouch calls ‘post-democracy.’ While society is moving rapidly toward full constitutional democracy in the respect that so-called free elections can make the government more accountable and responsible for its conduct, the citizens are gradually becoming a passive and incoherent mass responding only intermittently to the spectacular issues raised by politicians and militant political activists. Many citizens in advanced industrial democracies have become distrustful both of politicians and democratic institutions. Their political lives are predominated by media, money, lawyers, and anything other than democratic procedures. Faltering on the universalization of democracy in the global level, we are experiencing a stalemate between the expansion of democracy and the trivialization of democratic deliberation.

In this context, the ideas of Niccolo Machiavelli are appealing again. On the one hand, his republican theories have been re-interpreted with the conception of ‘liberty as non-domination’ under which political freedom ties with the ‘rule of law,’ or with a compromise between the normative endorsement of mass participation in politics and the practical approval of governmental regulations over extra-constitutional activities. On the other hand, his ‘populist’ aspects have been reshaped with the idea of conflict in the sense that the anti-aristocratic components of Machiavelli’s republicanism are transfigured as something signifying an imperative of self-subverting democracy.

These new versions of Machiavelli or his republicanism are certainly appealing to the East Asian countries which currently face the uncertainties caused by ongoing rapid economic development. However, the general impact of Machiavelli’s republican ideas has been less significant. First, the notion of liberty as non-domination has not been taken as seriously as it happened in Western countries. While Machiavelli’s republicanism seems to be welcomed by those East Asian scholars who wish to find an alternative to liberal democracy, its institutional suggestions for conflict resolution do not seem to have made as much impact as might be needed in the East Asian societies. Second, the idea of conflict in his political philosophy has not been fully appreciated in relation to civic contestability or the agonistic nature of democratic politics. Instead, the aesthetic of power in Machiavelli’s counsels on arcana imperii is the element that makes his political philosophy both popular and attractive in the East Asian countries. Indeed, there remain a number of longstanding questions about the fundamental ideas of Machiavelli’s political philosophy.

On the basis of these considerations, this symposium is aimed at investigating the historical appropriations of Machiavelli in East Asia and their correlations to the current understanding of Machiavelli’s political philosophy in the East Asian societies. We will survey the various translations of Machiavelli’s texts, including both old and new ones, and the latest implications of how Machiavelli has been appropriated in the Northeast Asian countries. We will also anticipate a positive contribution to democratic and constitutional politics from the reinterpretation of Machiavelli’s republicanism in the East Asian countries. Through this symposium, we hope for a scholarly deliberation, encompassing diverse theoretical and practical experiences.

Steering Committee

Sergio MERCURI, Ambassador of Italy Jae-Chun CHOI, Member of the National Assembly, Republic of Korea Gian Mario ANSELMI, Professor of Philology and Italian literature, Universita di Bologna Valdo SPINI, President of the Machiavelli Committee, Florence
Seon-Wook KIM, Vice President of Soongsil University & Professor of Philosophy
Jun-Hyeok KWAK, Co-director of the IVE at Soongsil Univ. & General Editor of the Series
Angelo GIOE, Director of Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Seoul

Conference Schedule

I. Opening Ceremony (9:00-10:00 AM: English-Korean Translation) [2nd Seminar Room]

Sergio MERCURI, Ambassador of Italy
Jae-Chun CHOI, Member of the National Assembly, Republic of Korea
Seung-il NA, Vice-Minister of Education [tentative]
Hernsoo HAHN, President of Soongsil University

II. Session One: Machiavelli and Us (10:20-12:00 AM) [2nd Seminar Room]

  • Keynote Speeches

Gian Mario ANSELMI, Professor of Philology and Italian Literature at the University of Bologna
Jang Jip CHOI, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Korea University

III. Lunch Break (12:00-13:00 PM: Special Room 1, Member’s Restaurant at the Member’s Hall)

IV. Session Two: Machiavelli and Politics (13:20-15:00 PM) [Venue: Room 202, small seminar room]

  • Moderator
    Jun-Hyeok KWAK, Co-director of IVE at Soongsil University & General Editor of the Routledge Series of Political Theories in East Asian Context
  • Papers
    Luciano CANFORA, Professor of Greek and Latin Philology at the University of Bari (Angelo GIOE, Director of Istituto Italiano di Cultura-Seoul is going to read on behalf)
    Haig PATAPAN, Professor of the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University
    Francesco BORGHESI, Associate Professor of Languages and Cultures at the University of Sidney

V. Session Three: Machiavelli in Translation (15:20-16:40 PM) [Venue: Room 202, small seminar room]

  • Moderator
    Haig PATAPAN, Professor of the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University
  • Papers
    Koichiro MATUSDA, Professor of Japanese Political Thought & Director of International Affairst at Rikkyo University
    Cao QIN, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Nankai University (co-authored with Xunlian LIU at Tianjin Normal University)

V. Session Four: Machiavelli in Different Context (17:00-18:20 PM)

  • Moderator
    Koichiro MATSUDA, Professor of Japanese Political Thought & Director of International Affairst at Rikkyo University
  • Papers
    Wei LIU, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Linmin University
    Jun-Hyeok KWAK, Co-director of IVE at Soongsil University & General Editor of the Routledge Series of Political Theories in East Asian Context

VI. Dinner at Korean Restaurant at the National Assembly (18:40 PM)