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The East Is A Promotion

By       Message Thorsten Pattberg     Permalink
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Sages are very different from philosophers; they embrace the critical spirit of learning and mastering from within society, embrace social harmony, and thus cultivate a holistic world view. Over the course of millennia, the Middle Kingdom produced tens of thousands of shengren, junzi, shiren, and sixiangjia. These are untranslatable. Maybe New Europe will see them as sages, gentlemen, scholars and historians.

Next, I noticed the rise of filial piety or "Xiao" in Europe. Europe in the past was notoriously detached from both its elderly and its offspring. Parents were not obliged to pay toward their children's education, and the young were encouraged to "break" with the old. The result was young people taken care of by national governments (instead of their families), and grandparents left in the solitude of some nursery home. This is very different in China, where the family bond is holy.

This brings us to the greater nature of Confucian humanism, namely the Confucian family value system. As Professor Gu explains: China is a society based on family values, while Europe is a society based on interest groups.

China to this day tries to apply a moral code among its people as if they were, so to speak, a single big family. Europe, on the other hand, became a place of self-centered individuals who joined various interest groups. That is why China could unite already in 221 BC, while Europe till the late 20th century was still a scattering of fractioned competing nations.

In fact, the sure path to European unity isn't more laws and regulations , but a pragmatic ethical framework similar to that of Chinese concepts of H armoniousness or "Zhong Yong" - The Middle Way.

As the president of Peking University, Zhou Qifeng, recently remarked in his opening speech of a new World Ethic Center: "We should seek answers to the questions by humankind from more culturally diverse perspectives and not be confined to the parameters of Western philosophy. To which the Swiss philosopher and sinophile Hans Kung replied: "If the concept of human rights is largely a Western contribution, then traditional Chinese culture offers the most abundant resource for the concept of human responsibility."

That's brings me to Laozi, who once wisely observed that "small nations have few people." Let's take this into perspective: The tininess of many European nation states puts many limitations on their abilities and development, geo-politically as well as intellectually. The states of Germany, for example, because of their provincialism, originally did not even distinguish between culture and civilization. For them, both meant about the same, until the British and French empires began reporting about great physical manifestations of clusters of cultures forming civilizations. The next step for the Europeans will be to accept an even greater, spiritual concepts such as Cultural China .

In fact, today's Western scholars, just like many businessmen and political leaders, if they follow their healthy senses, must now find ways to connect to the Sinitic world, and accepts its Chinese terms, just as the 7000 German global companies doing business in China already cannot live without their daily "Ni hao ! ".

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A New humanism

It is said that Europeans never experienced a spiritual enlightenment such as Buddhism, Taoism or Confucianism, yet the day may come, many hope, when Europeans learn to co-exist with non-European traditions .

If Europe were to unite, I am (almost) sure it would give rise to a new archetype equivalent to that of the Chinese junzi; a bit like the British gentlemen in the days of the British empire, but only quite: Institutions the size of entire civilizations do just that, they create new possibilities for human attainment and self-cultivation that go far beyond the offerings of small states.

Moreover, with the exodus of the small European nation state mentality, not only Christianity will lose its appeal, but so will philosophy, that Greek invention. I'll explain:

If we look at New Europe today, there isn't a single philosopher left. Let us be honest : All great philosophies of the past have proven either erroneous or they collapsed. Even the great Jurgen Habermas is called just that: a historian or thinker.

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This scarcity of true modern philosophers, which really means the end of philosophy, this syndicate, corresponds with the advent of Eastern thought that always preferred scholasticism and historical analysis over speculative system-building. In his essay 'Philosophers versus Thinkers' the great linguistic sage of Peking University, Ji Xianlin, observed that not a single European philosophical system has stood against time, while the works of historians and scholars present us with a more realistic empiricism and useful knowledge.

This is the Confucian way of New Europe: A Lofty pragmatism, the Love for learning, the Return of the shengren , and a New humanism.

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Dr. Thorsten J. Pattberg (裴德思 Pei Desi) is a German philosopher and cultural critic.

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