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Mou Zongsan's Translation of Hölderlin's "Withdrawal of God" and His Political Utopia

In the essay Lun Shangdi Yintui [On the Withdrawal of God], Mou Zongsan (1909-1995) recontexulized the concept of “withdrawal of God,” a constant theme repeatedly appearing in Hölderlin’s writing, within a set of Confucian literary and cultural parameters, thus inventing for this concept new readers and challenging the long established Confucian tradition of “tian ren he yi” [the unity of heaven and man]. This transformation has important bearing on Mou’s political philosophy. Though recognized by many scholars as a political utopia, Mou’s political philosophy embodies a utopian impulse that goes beyond the realizable and actualizable in order to bring a fantastic power of transgressing limiting boundaries. In this sense, we find Mou’s political philosophy a plausible one and certainly worthy of our reexamination.

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