Tsai Ying-wen (蔡英文), a researcher of democracy and totalitarianism at Academia Sinica’s Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, has passed away, a group of fellow researchers announced on Facebook on Sunday.
Tsai, who has the same Chinese name as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), was 67.
He was the first Chinese-speaking researcher to invoke the work of late American-German philosopher Hannah Arendt in his research, the group said.
Tsai Ying-wen died on Thursday last week from liver and lung infections caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease.
In the statement on the Facebook page for a political science text titled Who Governs? (菜市場政治學), the group praised Tsai Ying-wen for his contributions to the study of democracy and dictatorships.
He introduced Taiwanese students to the works of Arendt, as well as many legal principles new to them, it said.
Tsai Ying-wen’s translation of Chapter 2, “Imperialism,” and Chapter 3, “Totalitarianism,” of Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism sparked a surge of interest in the subjects in Taiwan, it said.
He also translated works by German political theorist Carl Schmitt, which he discussed in comparison with Arendt’s theories, and was one of the first researchers in Taiwan to critically discuss Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s concept of ausnahmezustand, or the “state of exception,” it said.
Tsai Ying-wen’s published works include From Monarchy and Autocracy to Democracy (從王權,專制到民主:西方民主思想的開展及其問題), Contemporary Political Thought (當代政治思潮) and Political Practice and Public Space (政治實踐與公共空間).
He also published a translation of John Gray’s Two Faces of Liberalism.
From Monarchy and Autocracy to Democracy won an award from Academia Sinica, the nation’s top research institute.
“That obscure academic work was reprinted after only three months. I suspect it was likely because readers mistakenly thought the author was the other Tsai Ing-wen,” the statement cited Tsai Ying-wen as jokingly saying when he accepted the award at the time.
The statement ended by thanking him for his contributions to the field of political science research.