It's shengren, stupid! by Thorsten Pattberg/Open Source
The Western imperialists left
"As to the foreign or Unteutsch words, the biggest question existeth whether to tolerate them"" - Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, 1677
Since the Europeans never had anything like it, but refused
to hold the candle to
The English soon found a slightly better translation; they called the shengren "sages".
The Germans however, the descendants of the Holy Roman
Empire of German Nation, never had a concept for sages or sagehood. In their
effort to christen
The shengren is the highest member in the East-Asian family-value based tradition and has the highest moral standards, called de. He applies the principles of ren, li, yi, zhi and xin, and connects between all the people as if they were, metaphorically speaking, his family.
Calling the shengren
of East Asia "philosophers", "saints", or any other
familiar names is the greatest historical blunder since Christopher Columbus's
discovery of "the Indians" in
The shengren of Confucianism are just as clearly defined and non-European as the buddhas of Buddhism are. Yet, the Western public is kept ignorant about the former. As the historian Howard Zinn once put it: "If something is omitted from history, you have no way of knowing it is omitted."
Our schools preach that there are "philosophers"
and "saints" all over Asia; yet, upon reflection, evidently there
isn't a single buddha, bodhisattva, or shengren
The word for "philosopher" doesn't appear in the
Chinese classics. Our so-called "Chinese Philosophy" departments in the
West are reminiscences of the Imperial age. In fact, the Chinese word for
philosophy, zhexuejia, came to
What happened to accurate scholarship? The original shengren is permanent -- buried in the Chinese texts, beneath all Western power charade and suspiciously convenient translations.
Since European languages cannot render many important Chinese concepts, the solution may be not to try to translate them at all but to adopt them.