|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/09/06 09:47 《英语学习》|
Revival of Neo-Confucianism 新儒学的复兴
Y: Yang Fuqing, Anchor of Dialogue on CCTV-9
T: Weiming Tu (杜维明)1, Professor of Chinese history and philosophy at Harvard University
Y: China is going through a transitional period, and a lot of problems arise, such as corruption and injustices. Some people argue that we are losing some of our best traditions and therefore we are losing our cultural identity. Professor Tu, what do you think cultural identity means to a nation in the modern world today?
T: Ever since May 4th Movement in 1919, an overwhelming majority of China's most brilliant intellectuals believe that we have to turn our back on the past and to somehow deconstruct our cultural identity in order to open ourselves to westernization. And at one point there was even a belief in wholesale westernization.2 And now the situation is much more complicated and very different. There is a sense of what China can become. And I'm listening and trying to think about the cultural identity of Chinese in terms of the voice of the Chinese intellectuals toward the world in large. And I think cultural identity is absolutely necessary for a nation to transform herself into a highly industrialized and highly modernized country, because the roots provide the "value-orientation" for the basic sense of belonging of the population as a whole3. Without cultural identity, there is a sense of lack of any kind of anchorage4 for one's own direction, or one's own sense of the self, of the community and of the nation. So I think in this transitional period, certainly China is confronted with all kinds of issues ?corruption, maldistribution of income, unemployment, and the question of transparency, accountability and reliability of a political system, of the congressional establishment of the intellectual community. Almost every aspect of the culture is going through an identity crisis. And yet everybody is very much concerned with the emergence of a healthy sense of being Chinese. And the whole tradition of arguing that "Chineseness" stands for backwardness, stands for the inability to become modern... that sense of self-criticism now is replaced by a more healthy or wholesome sense of confidence in the future. And this sense of confidence toward the future allows intellectuals to become more self-reflective and also more self-critical in terms of the overall direction of the country. In this sense they become more concerned about politics, more engaged in the society, and more aware of the cultural resources.
Y: Do you think China's cultural identity problem can be solved by the revival of Confucianism?
T: Not at all. I think Confucianism is one of the great traditions, but it alone cannot solve this problem. Actually we can say that being Chinese, historically, is something that has been deeply shaped by a major humanistic5 tradition, now characterized as the Confucian tradition. So "Chineseness" and the Confucian tradition are integrated in a very special way. But no matter how broadly we define "cultural China", that is, China from a cultural perspective, it cannot accommodate the Confucian tradition, because the Confucian tradition is also Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. On the other hand, the resources that help China to find or to form its own identity are much richer than the Confucian tradition ?Taoist tradition, Buddhist tradition, all kinds of indigenous traditions, all kinds of issues and problems not at all connected with spiritual traditions. For example, what kind of politics China would like to have, what kind of economy... Is market economy itself all that is needed? Even if market economy is healthy and important for the development of the country, if the country becomes a market society, or family values and social ideas are all evaluated by the criteria functioning in a market place, that's not good enough for the healthy development of identity. In this sense, Confucianism may be helpful for understanding the meaning of being Chinese. But of course the tradition as a flowing stream has to be further developed. It's not a static structure. It is a dynamic process of transformation. So Confucianism itself will have to be modernized, and have to be able to respond creatively to the challenges of the West. And the tradition will have to be open and dynamic and transformative.
Y: A Chinese saying goes like this, only after you have enough food and clothing will you think of etiquette.6 Do you think the Chinese people will naturally go back to the traditions including Confucianism for spiritual power after they enjoy real prosperity?
T: That's also a fascinating question. If you look at the Confucian tradition in terms of its modern fate, the tradition is not philosophical ideas for the elite or for the scholars, it's also what we call "habits of the heart" for the people. Many people do not know anything about the Analects7, or about the major thinkers of the Confucian tradition, but they act in a way that is not only compatible with but in a way influenced deeply by the Confucian ideas. For example, they understand the self not as an isolated individual but as the center of relationships. They are very concerned about friendship based on trust, about the society which is harmonious rather than simply conflicting. Even though competition is very good, people do not believe competition itself is a value. And there is a very great commitment to the well-being of the family as one of the most important units in society. One expects the government to act in a just way for the community as a whole. The leaders ought to be responsible for the well-being of the people. And also the strong government is not necessarily a bad thing. So many of these things that function very pervasively in Chinese society are connected with Confucian values. So it is in this sense that prosperity may lead to all kinds of other possibilities, you know, individualism, individual expression of freedom of various kinds, maybe consumption, even conspicuous consumption8. On the other hand, social stability is based upon some deep-rooted values shared by the elite and the populace9. Many of these values have been shaped by Confucian ideas. Even when people become prosperous, these values will not be simply eroded, and totally relegated to the background.10
Y: How can we ask or help modern Chinese to learn about Confucianism?
T: I think one thing that is deep-rooted in Confucian ideas and practice is that it is not an elitist notion imposing certain kind of rules or regulation on the people. It actually reflects what ordinary people really want and give it a very sophisticated interpretation. So the educated people who are familiar with these ideas will have to provide opportunities for the people in general, especially through the mass media. I think what can be done is to use the statements, ideas from the major classics in the Confucian tradition and transform them as messages for the general public. I think the government, the academic community, the mass media, the business community, various kinds of professional societies, and even religious organizations, all of them can play a part in developing this new sense of cultural identity informed by many traditions including the Confucian tradition.
Y: In recent years, the traditional Chinese clothes and furniture have become a fashion. Do you think it's to do with the revival of these Chinese traditions?
T: I think this is symbolic of some deep-rooted cultural resources and how they can be surfaced for the community as a whole. On the surface these indications may not amount to much from a philosophical perspective. But I think in general the people begin to identify themselves, for example, your clothing is your representation of yourself, and furniture is an integral part of your life world. And these indications manage to be fully appreciated by the society; then they indicate something deeper. For a while, the Chinese turn their backs on their tradition. But now to retrieve the sources of tradition has become a major concern of not just the scholars but people in the business community and even the general public. So right now the revival of these traditions coincide with the economic development. So the economic development in a way provided opportunity for the revival of the tradition. To me there may be very healthy interaction between the market place on the one hand, and the possibility of rediscovery of the various kinds of cultural expressions that can be Chinese.
Y: You are also advocating dialogues among different civilizations. What impact do you think Confucianism, the core of Chinese civilization, will have on the dialogues between Chinese civilization and other civilizations?
T: In 2001, the UN designated that year as the year of dialogue among civilizations. Kofi Annan appointed a group to facilitate the dialogue. I was part of that group, and became very interested in the possible Confucian contribution to the dialogue. And one of the theologians11 pointed out that the two basic Confucian principles can serve as the foundation for global ethic. One principle is, "Do not do to others what you don't want others to do to you." This is a negative principle, and the positive principle is, "In order to establish myself, I help others to establish themselves; in order to enlarge myself, I help others to enlarge themselves.12" So the first question is to be sympathetic, and it's a spirit of reciprocity13. The second one is the principle of humanity ?trying to help people and not just oneself but the people around oneself and extended beyond. In many traditions, for example, the kingdom of God yet to come, or the other shore that is more significant than this one, there's always a tendency to look beyond the world here and now.14 The Confucian tradition that is deeply rooted in the world here and now helps the various kinds of spiritual traditions to recognize the irreducibility or the centrality of the world here and now. For example, ecological issues, poverty, unemployment, social disintegration15, all these issues need to be dealt with by spiritual traditions rather than escape from this world in order to do something in the next world or outside this world. So I think Confucianism, by commitment to this world, to transform itself from within, not to identify itself with the status quo16, has some kind of strength that is helpful for the dialogue and for the future development of a sense of urgency to deal with the critical issues confronting the human community as a whole.
Y: How do you analyze the effects of globalization from a cultural point of view?
T: Normally people define modernization in terms of homogenization, that is, the theory of convergence.17 If countries become modernized, they will be more and more like one another. And therefore you have this notion of most-advanced country, less-advanced country, and least-advanced country, as if everybody is following this trajectory18 to move toward a certain kind of goal. But globalization clearly intensifies localization. Globalization is not simply homogenization. Of course, in terms of science and technology, or in terms of economic development, globalization may reflect some kind of theory of convergence. But in a deeper sense, globalization enhances cultural identity and people become much more concerned about the uniqueness or the particularity of their culture. So if you look at it negatively, globalization may lead to hegemonic control, and may also lead to fundamentalism.19 But through dialogue, hopefully, globalization may lead to a sense of "togetherness". The planet is our lifeboat; we are all in this together. Globalization can also lead to a sense of "deeply-rooted-in-one's-culture", and the global significance of local knowledge. So these two dimensions can form a very fruitful interaction and so some people say globalization and localization are so much integrated we have to coin a new word "glocal", both global and local. So togetherness is not at all in conflict with diversity. The world becomes more diverse and also more "together".
Y: Is it true that globalization has reduced some of the cultural traditions of some of the ethnic groups?
T: Yes, very much so. Take language for example. We have about 6,000 languages now. But with the globalizing process, many languages will be lost. 50 years from now, all the languages in the world may have been reduced to a few hundred. But linguistic diversity, like bio-diversity, or geo-diversity, probably will persist. And it is in this sense that culture has to be invented, reinvented, and rituals will have to be enacted and reenacted. There is no way that a culture is going to survive if it doesn't develop or accommodate new possibilities or react in a very creative way to new situations. If that's the case, some of the loss of the indigenous cultures may lead to the gain of some creative adaptation to new situations. Chinese culture is one of the very few cultures that has enjoyed a certain sense of continuity, and as one of the most enduring traditions in the world, Confucianism, I think, is certainly included in that process.-
2. 中国大多数优秀知识分子认为我们只有忘掉过去，从某种程度上解除我们的文化身份以接受西化。甚至一度认为应该全盘西化。wholesale: 大规模的，不分青红皂白的。
4. anchorage: 精神支柱，(感情、希望等的)寄托。
5. humanistic: 人文主义的。
8. conspicuous consumption: 炫耀性消费，铺张浪费。conspicuous: 炫耀的，摆阔气的。
9. populace: 平民，百姓。
11. theologian: 神学家，神学研究者。
13. reciprocity: 互换，对等。
14. 句中的the kingdom of God yet to come为基督教中的“天堂”， the other shore则指佛教中的 “彼岸世界”， here and now的意思是 “现时，当前”。
15. disintegration: 瓦解，崩溃。
16. status quo: 现状。
17. homogenization: 均质化，同质化；convergence: (人类学用语)(异族文化的)趋同。
18. trajectory: (事物的)发展轨迹，起落。
19. hegemonic: 霸权的；fundamentalism: 基要主义(第一次世界大战以来，基督教新教一些自称“保守”的神学家为反对现代主义，尤其是圣经评断学，而形成的神学主张)。
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