Jessica Zu, Just Awakening: A Yogācāra Research Paradigm in Modern China

Professor Jessica Zu
Assistant Professor, Religion & EALC, University of Southern California, Dornsife
Respondent: Danica Cao
PhD Student, Philosophy of Religions, UChicago Divinity
Just Awakening: A Yogācāra Research Paradigm in Modern China
THURSDAY, April 11th, 5PM, Swift 200
The workshop will focus on the pre-circulated material selected from Jessica’s book manuscript. It will consist of a short presentation, followed by Danica’s response and general discussion and Q&A. Please find the reading material here (please email us for password).


This study takes a closer look at the life and work of a key player in the Yogācāra revival in modern China, Lü Cheng (1896–1989). The evidence reveals that, rather than positioning Lü’s Yogācāra in the epistemic silo of ontology or science, Lü’s scholarship is best understood as a new research paradigm. As incisively argued by Egan and Lincoln in 1994, a research paradigm, as a disciplinary construct, interweaves together four main areas of human inquiry: ontology (what things are), epistemology (how do we know), methodology (how to find out), and axiology (what is worth knowing). The book project, Just Awakening: Yogācāra Social Philosophy in Modern China, argues that Lü’s Yogācāra research paradigm systematically accentuated Buddhist processual ontology, reformulated imported positivism into a nondualistic transformative epistemology, systemized diffractive analysis into a new methodology, and refashioned Yogācāra karmic theory into an experience-informed, action-oriented moral reasoning. The workshop will closely examine Lü’s transformative epistemology.

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago.


The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop. Please contact Workshop Coordinators Danica Cao ( or Taryn Sue ( in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

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