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Reinvigorating the study of Chinese culture [Copy link] 中文

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2005-1-11 21:23:54 |Display all floors
I highly recommend this article from the Overseas Edition of People's Daily on January 10, 2005.

It is about 'renewing our understanding' of traditional Chinese culture. I am changing the word "renew" to "Reinvigorate" which I think is more appropriate because such study has been ongoing all along.

Not surprisingly, sometimes even the most ardent, well-meaning Chinese leaders cannot tell you what venerable Chinese traditions they are fighting to preserve, because as youngsters they had no inkling of any of it when all they saw around them was abject poverty -- it was easy to equate such economic conditions with Chinese civilization itself.

Now that China is getting stronger and her people richer, there is a craving to go back to the original roots and understand what Chinese civilization and culture truly mean under existing circumstances.

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As a result of the relative backwardness of the past two centuries, plus the unchecked spread of the saying that "Chinese culture comes from the West", the theory of Western culture being the center has exerted profound and extensive influence in China. Come people's introspection of their own cultural tradition has almost gone to the extent of self-cruelty.

For decades, we have made more criticism than inheritance of our own traditional culture and more negative than confirmative, we lacked the making of conscientious summation, not to say popularization. During the "cultural revolution", culture was completely negated, implicit obedience and ignorance were initiated.

As a result of the widespread of its pernicious influence, people were ignorant about their own national culture, and lacked self-respect and self-confidence, thus causing people to look at this with wide eyes. Amid the uproar of "global integration", even among the intellectuals, some people believed that "modernization means Westernization", sooner or later, Chinese culture would inevitably be "integrated" by Westernization.

In the eyes of some people, the charge against China's traditional culture is: petrified, conservative, the dregs of feudalism, putting metaphysics above science, lack of metaphysics, etc. in short, it is incompatible with the requirements of modern society.

In my opinion, this view forgets that "tradition" is a process of flowing deformation, Chinese culture develops and changes through constant destruction of the old and establishment of the new in the hereditary process, what we need is to judge whether the development and change of Chinese culture are in step with the times and whether such change is appropriate. It must be understood that what is new is not necessary correct or good, the blowing of wind in New York followed by coughing here is not necessarily the synonym of keeping pace with the times.

Therefore, whether it is "petrified" or not should be treated with great care, it must not be echoed simply by picking it up, what's more, there are many good things in Chinese culture, not all are debris. Even debris should be analyzed to see what was broken by ourselves in the process of development and so need not be picked up again, and what was smashed forcibly by outsiders but which should be carried forward, stroking the broken pieces with light moans is only showing the people with "deep" self-intoxication.

The milk of Chinese culture has fed us for thousands of years. Leaving aside previous brilliance, even in the period considered to be hopeless, Chinese culture was relied upon to straighten up the spine of the nation and to have defeated ferocious Japanese aggressors. Today, we still rely on the main culture of the Chinese nation to realize the great cause of national rejuvenation.

Chinese culture is the crystallization of the entire history and wisdom of the Chinese nation, and the great contribution made by the Chinese nation to humankind, picking out these good things carefully, studying and summarizing them meticulously and passing them as firewood or torches from generation to generation, only by doing so can the Chinese nation go on without end. If Chinese culture is judged by Western concept, what is left in Chinese culture is, of course, only debris and something incredible and puzzling, because it is not a product of the West.

The quintessence of Chinese culture is "to exert oneself constantly" and to let "great virtue carry things". Outstanding cultures of foreign nations, after their entry into China, are to be totally or partially transformed and assimilated by Chinese culture to become part of Chinese culture. This is the main reason why Chinese culture has never been disrupted, but instead, has made constant advances.

At present, the "change of concept" is stressed, I think this is a question confronting the whole world, as the Chinese need the "change of concept", so do foreigners. That is to say, the cultures of various nations conduct dialogs on one and the same platform.

In China, the times when things were "taken in", and not "sent out" have gone forever. Chinese culture needs exchange with Western cultures on an equal footing, Chinese, first of all, need to change their concept of Chinese culture, the view holding that Chinese culture is backward and conservative is itself a non-modern and backward idea. The "change of concept" is a process of the fusion of all national cultures, not the turn of only Eastern or Chinese culture toward the West, only this is genuine cultural equality and true world culture. Chinese culture becoming a hot branch of learning is an indisputable fact. In brief, now is the time for conscientiously "renewing understanding" of Chinese culture, don't miss this chance!

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Post time 2005-1-12 04:46:32 |Display all floors

For some reason

I had a premonition that a discussions on culture in a politics forum is not a very attractive undertaking.

Still, I believe this is a very important subject matter -- more than you might care to know.

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Post time 2005-1-12 04:47:08 |Display all floors

Do you think culture is related to politics

..or not?

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Post time 2005-1-12 04:47:31 |Display all floors

Chinese society is not so Chinese any more

An oxymoron.

But it is true.

But then every prevous dynasty began with a new facelift and an infusion of new blood.

Why should this one be the exception.

Ease of transportation has made the world smaller.

China, with her 2226 years of administrative experience over a largely politically unified landmass, interrupted only by brief period of fragmented disunity, is uniquely qualified to be proactive in the coming world government.

Such a political entity is non-aggressive, respectful of other cultures and nations, and serves rather than kills.

It might take a few hundreds years to smooth the grooves, but in the end our nation has a great historically well-endowed advantage.

That's why it is important to study Chinese culture.

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Post time 2005-1-12 16:26:21 |Display all floors

China Daily, this thread should go to the "recommended" box

I do think this People's Daily article brought in many interesting aspects for discussions. It is important for us to have a better understanding of Chinese culture and how Chinese culture evolves in these modern days.

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Post time 2005-1-12 17:41:06 |Display all floors

Why should we leave the judgement of Chinese culture to the west? We should not

"Chinese culture is the crystallization of the entire history and wisdom of the Chinese nation, and the great contribution made by the Chinese nation to humankind, picking out these good things carefully, studying and summarizing them meticulously and passing them as firewood or torches from generation to generation, only by doing so can the Chinese nation go on without end. If Chinese culture is judged by Western concept, what is left in Chinese culture is, of course, only debris and something incredible and puzzling, because it is not a product of the West. "

First, the western culture history is totally different than Chinese culture history, few westerners truly understand Chinese culture. Yet, so many of them are writing about Chinese culture, to make so many unfounded assertions about our culture. If you look at the western universities, the students rae learning Chinese culture history not from Chinese, but from westerners.

2nd, western culture is highly influenced/dominated by "absolute individulism" "materialism" and "cosummerism". They often use such rulers to analyze our culture, how much if not possible for them to understand Chinese culture that is so much so oriented towards harmony, humanitarianism, and wisdom.

3rd, before the information age, the space between the east and west did slow down the erotion of our culture, but no longer is the case now. If we Chinese don't put out serious effort to understand and preserve our culture it will be gone before we realize it's too late.

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Post time 2005-1-12 19:54:08 |Display all floors

read through it, but remain confused from the beginning to the very end

Outstanding cultures of foreign nations, after their entry into China, are to be totally or partially transformed and assimilated by Chinese culture to become part of Chinese culture. This is the main reason why Chinese culture has never been disrupted, but instead, has made constant advances.
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what nations after their entry into China were assimilated by Chinese culture? This does not make sense at all. I truly believe every nation shares the basic vaules such as honesty, respecting the old. The advances Chinese culture has made come from absorbing those more advanced foreign elements while abandoning those outdated parts of Chinese culture. And that is the main reason why China becomes stronger and stronger.

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