"Aristotle never existed": Leading CCP academic makes ludicrous claim about the ancient Greek philosopher

Jin Canrong Aristotle

One of the most searched names on the web in September in China was Aristotle after an academic from Renmin University in Beijing claimed that the Greek philosopher never existed.

Professor Jin Canrong claimed that Aristotle is crucial for the narrative that philosophy was already highly advanced in the West in the 4th century BCE, adding that the works of the Greek philosopher may have been written some seventeen centuries later.

The academic, who is lauded by the Chinese Communist Party, concluded that if the West has lied for so long about Aristotle, the Chinese are justified in believing that Westerners lie about pretty much everything.

As Zhou Kexin, writing for Bitter Winter, highlights Jin was not well-known to the Chinese general public before his Aristotle video, but was not an important figure. Paradoxically, he might have been more known in the West, where he participated in several conferences and lectured, on other subjects, in leading universities and forums.

Bitter Winter noted that Canrong is Professor and Associate Dean at the School of International Studies of Renmin University, one of China’s top ten colleges, and is listed as an “advisor” of the CCP.

He is a specialist of American Studies, not Greek history, but, according to Bitter Winter, clearly he could not have created such a widely reported incident without the approval of the CCP (otherwise, his video would have been quietly deleted in a few hours).

Jin’s video is for domestic rather than international propaganda. Even some Chinese netizens have noted that his arguments are futile (although the majority of comments are favourable).

He claims that Aristotle’s works are mentioned only in sources from the 13th century and later.

This is false, as Aristotle’s theories started being debated mentioning his name and his school shortly after his death, whose date is traditionally fixed at 322 BCE, and even before. Aristotle seems to be much better documented than Confucius, whose existence is never put in doubt by the CCP and Xi Jinping himself.

The academics argument that mostly impressed thousands of Chinese netizens is that Aristotle could not have written so many books before paper, which was invented in China after his death and came to the West much later. But this is of course true for many great thinkers and great books, which appeared in human history well before the invention of paper.

READ MORE: The Stolen Ancient Greek Masterpiece: The Horses of St. Mark’s.

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