LACERTOSA, Massimiliano

RGC Research Fellow

Rm 417

Brief Biography

Before coming to Hong Kong, I was Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Warwick (2020-2023) where I introduced for the first time new modules in Chinese Philosophy and World Philosophies. In 2022 I was nominated Associate Fellow of the Warwick Institute of Engagement and I established the World Philosophies and Decoloniality Research Group.

My previous research focused on a comparative analysis of Western and Chinese philosophies. More precisely, I analysed Western historical misinterpretations of ancient Daoist philosophy – mainly the Daodejing 道德經 and the Zhuangzi 莊子. My thesis was that, to avoid such misinterpretations – still very present in some studies and translations – it is necessary to reconsider the function of comparative philosophy. I believe that the primary task of a comparative analysis should not be the mere definition of differences and equivalences between philosophies; this tends to produce cultural appropriations and impositions from Anglo-American and Eurocentric perspectives. On the contrary, such comparisons should advance the project of philosophy itself by producing a modification in the understanding of both the self and the other.

I have adopted this methodology in several articles and in my book From Metaphysical Representations to Aesthetic Life. Towards the Encounter with the Other in the Perspective of Daoism (SUNY Press, 2023). The book does not propose equivalences between the philosophies of Heidegger and Laozi or Nietzsche and Zhuangzi. Instead, there is a re-evaluation of their respective philosophical traditions through a dialogue that reconceives the idea of philosophy itself.

My new research project “Wuwei 無為, Weak Thought and Degrowth” goes further in this direction by combining comparative and interdisciplinary analyses in a decolonial perspective.

Research Interests

Chinese Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, Decoloniality, Ethics, Metaphysics


Selected Publications

From Metaphysical Representations to Aesthetic Life: Toward the Encounter with the Other in the Perspective of Daoism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2023

Sense Perception in the Zhuangzi 莊子. Philosophy Compass 17 (1, e12798): 1–13, 2022

Ripensare l’esperienza estetica attraverso lo Zhuangzi 莊子. Rivista di Estetica 80: 65–79, 2022

The Ethical Stance of the ‘Qiwulun (Discourse on Corresponding Things)’. Dao. A Journal of Comparative Philosophy. 18 (2): 183–196, 2019

Interpreting Dao (道) between ‘Way-making’ and ‘Be-wëgen’. In Ancient and Modern Practices of Citizenship in Asia and the West: Care of the Self, edited by Gregory Bracken, 103-120. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018

For a philosophy of comparisons: the problems of comparative studies in relation with Daoism. Asian Philosophy 27 (4): 324-339, 2017