Next, look at European
education. It isn't completed yet, but Europe tilts toward unification of its fragmented systems, just as China unified its examination
system beginning from the Han Dynasty over 2,200 years ago. The Bologna Accords
from 1999 will result in better assessment and thus the promotion of ability,
not birth right, as the major mechanism by which the governments should promote
individuals into the civil services.
This is new educational terrain
for Europe. France
in the past had its exclusive club, the grandes e'coles of the rich and
powerful; and Germany always
had its rigid three-tier school system, comparable to India's caste
system. Generally speaking, in Europe the
upper class and the rest never met in education in a life time.
This is very different in East-Asia
where the Confucian love for learning is all-pervasive. That's one of the
reasons why China
is a full-fledged "Wenming". What's a Wenming?
Wenming is often translated
as "civilization," but that is misleading. As Gu Zhengkun, the
professor of world literature at Peking
University, explained: Wenming
describes a high level of ethics and
gentleness of a people (in Japanese: Bunmei), while the English word
"civilization" has Greek-Hellenic origin and derives from a city
people's mastery over materials and technology. Think about architecture.
The Confucian tradition,
according to Professor Tu Weiming of Harvard
University, holds that
all human beings have the potential to become sages or "shengren".
This is a bit like the Eastern notion that all humans have a Buddha-nature. This
coming of new archetypes of wisdom will
open up very attractive ways for personal growth and self-cultivation for the confused
and disoriented New Europeans.
Return of the shengren
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.
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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.
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Dr. Thorsten J. Pattberg (裴德思 Pei Desi) is a German philosopher and cultural critic.
|The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.