Author: changabula

Chinese Philosophy, Thoughts and Wisdom [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2007-4-5 13:18:14 |Display all floors
Since Laotze and Daoism seemed to be a favorite among all the chinese philosophies, I think it is important to note the following:

- Laotze exile himself near the end of his life.
- Daoism was quickly juxtaposed with traditional creationist myth and ancestor worshipping that give birth to a new, more grassroot, acceptable, Dao. It has been the Banner of several civilian uprising (The most notable one being the Yellow Turban uprising during the late Han era)

I personally consider Daoism (as described by Laotze, and to a lesser extend by Zhuangzi) the highest attainable form of spiritual freedom. However, in terms of social dynamics, it is counter progressive (at least, progression as we know it today). One might argue that the Way of Dao is more benign to the nature and human spirit in general, but it is also true that the philosophy of Laotze doesn't make a country any sort of super power. That is probably a reason why virtually all chinese dynasty adopt Confucius as the official "religion"

My personal leanings is toward Daoism, as it is for anyone who has very clear concept of "self"

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Post time 2007-4-9 03:24:15 |Display all floors
Path of Chinese cultural revitalization

Under the guidance of Chinese tailored Marxism, China will develop and follow an innovative path to revitalize cultural traditions while absorbing the fine cultural achievements of other countries. The plan is to revive Chinese culture in regards to living and production material, politics, mindset, society and ecology. This is the true essence of the road to China's peaceful development. China will create a new civilization, a harmonious, socialist society with Chinese characteristics. This new civilization focuses on self-improvement in people's standard of living and the relationship between humans and nature.

Lee Kuan Yew, a senior minister of Singapore once said, "China's peaceful rise will not pose a threat to any country. Instead, China will use its dynamic and magnificent national culture to kindle the light of human civilization!" His remarks show a true understanding of the road to peaceful development that China follows. China should use civilized conception, means, methods and images to revive its culture.

What is "civilized conception"? Mao Zedong envisioned in the 1950s that China would become a big power that would be easy to get along with. In 1992, Deng Xiaoping, chief architect of the reform and opening up policy, argued that "socialist China should show the world through its actions that it is opposed to hegemonism and power politics and wishes to be part of neither. China is a steadfast force in safeguarding world peace." It is obvious that China's peaceful development is guided by a form of Marxism that has been developed by modern Chinese. This improved version of Marxism is the civilized conception.

"Civil methods" are those methods that comply with social codes of conduct in modern civilized society. They are what China will always use to settle problems and challenges on the road to modernization. In the process of peaceful development, China will constantly face big challenges related to resources, especially energy resources, to the environment, and to economic and social development. To resolve these problems, China should adopt a comprehensive and scientific philosophy of development that is people-oriented and puts an emphasis on sustainability. China should concentrate on building the economy and should push forward both this and social development on a wide scale. China should also do as much as possible to resolve any outstanding issues in order to have a harmonious society. In essence, China should considerably improve the quality of people. Only in this way can the civil methods be applied to challenges and society made harmonious.

"Civil means" demonstrates an opposition to any brutality that is intended to rob other countries of their resources. While carrying out the reform and opening-up campaign, China uses the "civil means -- market" to source necessary capital, technology, resources, energy and professionals. China will not take the traditional road to industrialization at the considerable cost of nonrenewable resources. Instead China will follow a new path to industrialization characterized by the full use of technology and human resources, high economic benefits, energy efficiency, and environmentally friendliness.

The "civilized image" is one of a peaceful and civilized China. It can be created on the basis of a new set of values concerning security, honor and civilization. Through education, China should help people understand and hold onto these values as well as warn away any blind arrogance as it grows stronger.

Written by Chen Bijian, chairman of the China Reform Forum and translated by People's Daily Online
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[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-4-9 03:26 AM ]
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Post time 2007-4-9 04:06:27 |Display all floors
"If you tell me, I will listen. If you show me, I will see. But if you let me experience, I will learn."

In the 5th-century BC, the philosopher Lao-Tse (also Lao-tzu) wrote "If you tell me, I will listen. If you show me, I will see. But if you let me experience, I will learn." And so began one of the first active learning philosophies.

Other Chinese philosophers, such as Kung Fu-tse (Latinized as Confucius) and Han Fei-Tzu, followed Lao-Tse by using a method that closely resembles what we now call the  case method  or  case study. A member of the study group would present a paradox, which would be in the form of a parable. They would then discuss it and explore possible resolutions.

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In the 1880s, Christopher Langdell, the dean of the Harvard Law School, revived the case method that the early Chinese Philosophers used. It slowly won acceptance in the schools of business, law, and medicine. Langdell felt students could learn more about the law by studying actual court opinions than by reading legal texts. By the early 20th century, virtually every American law school had adopted Langdell's method. In the 1960s, most schools began to introduce some form of clinical education to supplement the classroom study of cases.

Although the classic Harvard case is quite comprehensive in nature, cases used in training need not be long and detailed to excite and encourage the creative efforts of the learners.

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Kung Fu-tse:

[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-4-9 04:09 AM ]
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Post time 2007-4-10 05:25:28 |Display all floors
Chinese philosophy and religion

Across history, Chinese philosophy and religion has influenced the growth of the Chinese people as a civilization.  The very culture takes from the writings of Confucius, Mencius and Buddha.  Nearly two thirds of the population looks to one of these in everyday life decisions for guidance.  

The teachings of Feng Shui dictate the layout and design of every major city in China and the surrounding area.  

Much of what is taught today as philosophy around the world comes from 2500 year old manuscripts written in Chinese and translated into every major language.  

More than a quarter of the earth's population practices Buddhism as its major religion.

[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-4-10 05:31 AM ]
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Post time 2007-4-10 05:26:17 |Display all floors

    Chinese philosophy has a history of several thousand years. Its origins are often traced back to the Yi Jing (the Book of Changes), an ancient compendium of divination, which introduced some of the most fundamental terms of Chinese philosophy. Its age can only be estimated, but it certainly draws from an oracular tradition that goes back to Neolithic times.

    Brief History

    Early Shang thought was based upon a cyclic notion of time, corresponding to the seasons. This notion, which remained relevant throughout Chinese history, represents a fundamental distinction from western philosophy, in which the dominant view of time is a linear progression. During the Shang, fate could be manipulated by the great deity Shang Di (上帝; shàngdì), most frequently translated as "Lord on High". Ancestor worship was also present, as was human and animal sacrifice.

    When the Shang were overthrown by the Zhou, a new political, religious and philosophical concept was introduced called the "Mandate of Heaven". This mandate was said to be taken when rulers became unworthy of their position, and provided a shrewd justification for Zhou rule. During this period, archaeological evidence points to an increase in literacy and a partial shift away from the faith placed in Shang Di, with ancestor worship becoming commonplace and a more worldly orientation coming to the fore.

    In around 500 BC, after the Zhou state weakened and China moved in to the Spring and Autumn Period, the classic period of Chinese philosophy began (it is an interesting fact that this date nearly coincides with the emergence of the first Greek philosophers). This is known as the Hundred Schools of Thought (百家; bǎijiā). Of the many schools founded at this time and during the subsequent Warring States Period, the four most influential ones were Confucianism, Daoism (Taoism), Mohism and Legalism. The short founder Qin Dynasty, where Legalism was the official philosophy, quashed Mohist and Confucianist schools. Legalism remained influential until the emperors of the Han Dynasty adopted Daoism and later Confucianism as official doctrine. These latter two became the determining forces of Chinese thought until the 20th century, with the introduction Buddhist philosophy (mostly during Tang Dynasty) negotiated largely through perceived similarities with Daoism.

    The respective influences of Daoism and Confucianism are often described this way: "Chinese are Confucianist during the day, while they are Daoists at night". Moreover, many Chinese mandarins were government officials in the daily life and poets (or painters) in their spare time.

    When the Communist Party took over power, previous schools of thought, excepting notably Legalism, were denounced as backward, but their influence on Chinese thought remains.

    Great Philosophical Figures

        * Confucius, seen as the Great Master but sometimes ridiculed by Taoists
              o Mencius, Confucius' follower having idealist inspiration.
              o Xun Zi, another Confucius' follower, closer to realism.
              o Zhu Xi, founder of Neo-Confucianism
              o Wang Yangming, most influential proponent of xinxue or "school of mind."
        * Lao Zi, the chief of Taoist school.
              o Zhuang Zi, said to be the author of the Zhuangzi.
              o Lie Zi, said to be the author of the True Classic of Perfect Emptiness.
        * Mozi, the founder of Mohist school.
        * Han Fei, one of the theoreticians of Legalism
        * Lin-chi, a great Buddhist Ch'an thinker and teacher, essentially shaped what would become one of the largest schools of Buddhism (Rinzai school of Zen)

    Concepts Within Chinese Philosophy

    Although the individual philosophical schools differ considerably, they nevertheless share a common vocabulary and set of concerns.

    Among the terms commonly found in Chinese philosophy are:

        * Tao (the Way, or one's doctrine)
        * De (virtue, power)
        * Li (principle)
        * Qi (vital energy or material force)
        * The Tai Ji (Great Heavenly Axis) forms a unity, from which two antagonistic concepts, Yin and Yang originate. The word Yin originally referred to a hillside facing away from the sun. Philosophically, it stands the gloomy, passive, female concept, whereas Yang (the hillside facing the sun) stands for the bright, active, male concept. Both concepts, though antagonistic, are also complementary and the present domination of one implies the future rise of the other, as moon's phases (this is one of the meanings of the well-known Yin-Yang figures).

    Among the great controversies of Chinese philosophies are:

        * The relation between matter and principle
        * The method of discovering truth
        * Human nature

    Among the commonalties of Chinese philosophies are:

        * Epistemological optimism. The belief that the big questions can be answered even if the answers are not currently known.
        * The tendency not to view man as separate from nature.
        * The tendency not to invoke a unified and personified supernatural power. Questions about the nature and existence of God which have profoundly influenced Western philosophy have not been important in Chinese philosophies.
        * The belief that the purpose of philosophy is primarily to serve as an ethical and practical guide.
        * The political focus: most scholars of the Hundred Schools were trying to convince the ruler to behave in the way they defended.


        * A History of Chinese Philosophy (Princeton Paperbacks), Fung You-lan, tr. Derk Bodde, 1983.
        * Disputers of the Tao; Philosophical Argument in Ancient China, A. C. Graham, 1989.
        * Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China, Arthur Waley, 1983.
        * Chinese Thought, from Confucius to Mao Zedong, Herrlee Glessner Creel, 1971.
        * The Importance of Living, Lin Yutang, 1996.
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Post time 2007-4-19 01:44:47 |Display all floors
THE CHINESE VIEW OF TIME, A Passage to Eternity

                        There is a time for putting together
                        And another time for taking apart.
                        He who understands
                        This course of events
                        Takes each new state
                        In its proper time
                        With neither sorrow nor joy. . . .

                        -- Chuang Tze, vi. 9.

There is a given time for everything and a time for every happening under heaven: A time for giving birth, a time for dying; a time for planting, a time for uprooting. A time for killing, a time for building. . . . Finally I considered the task God gave to the sons of men. He made everything fitting in its time, but he also set eternity in their hearts although man is not able to embrace the work of God from the beginning to the end.

-- Ecclesiastes iii, 1-10.

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[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-4-19 01:47 AM ]
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Post time 2007-4-19 01:46:30 |Display all floors
The difficulty in discussing time in relation to the human spirit stems from, what Paul Ricoeur calls " a fundamental feature of our experience of time, namely that time is never lived directly, never a mute, immediate lived experience, but always structured by symbolic systems of varying complexity. This "varying complexity"1 is even more apparent in Chinese culture with the seemingly opposing orientations of Confucianism and Taoism, as well as of Buddhism if one were to make it part of Chinese culture. The difficulty is aggravated by the character of the Chinese mind whose primary interest is ethical. Metaphysical problems such as that of space and time, matter and spirit, are rarelly discussed, and if they are it is for the sake of ethics.2 Hence, the intent of this chapter is an explication of the Chinese concept of time3 with a view to how we can live a good life and make society and the world a better abode for the human spirit.


Confucius, standing by a stream, said, " It passes on like this, never ceasing day or night!"4 The passage indicates Confucius’s view of time: time is the ceaseless passing of things and events, and of human nature. Like the stream, time has a definite past, but an indefinite future. Travelling forward, it invites the human being to participate in this movement, to take an active part in the drama of life so the person can achieve the ideal of Jen, humanity in its fullness.

Jen is the supreme virtue of the Confucian sage. Translated in various ways as "benevolence," "kindness," "humanheartedness," Jen is composed of the character Jen, meaning "man," and the character "erh", meaning "two," thus signifying the virtue that governs interpersonal relationships. For Confucius, "It is to love men."5 The Doctrine of the Mean makes a pun by saying, "Jen is Jen":6 to become a man of Jen is to be human.

Such an ideal is part of the Confucian Tao, the moral way, This is not divorced from the Master’s objective in teaching, namely, to train students to become a Chun Tze, a gentleman who will take the responsibility of being of service to the government and to the county, and to like it.

This program is briefly outlined in the Confucian classic, The Great Learning: One begins by cultivating the personal life through rectifying the mind-heart, making the will sincere, extending knowledge and investigating things; then one rules the family, next brings order to the state, and finally maintains peace in the world.7

What of the spirits and the after life? Confucius said," If we are not yet able to serve man, how can we serve spiritual beings? If we do not yet know about life, how can we know about death?"8 Once when Confucius was very ill, his disciple asked that a prayer be offered. Confucius said, "Is there such a thing?" His disciple replied, "There is an eulogy which says, "Pray to the spiritual beings above and below." Confucius said, "My prayer has been for a long time that what counts is the life that one leads."9

The life that one leads in time takes on a gradual progression of mastering oneself. Confucius said,

        At fifteen my mind was set on learning. At thirty my character had been formed. At forty I had no more perplexities. At fifty I knew the Mandate of Heaven T’ien-ming. At sixty I was at ease with whatever I heard. At seventy I could follow my heart’s desire without transgressing moral principles.10


For the Confucian, time never simply repeats itself. In the process of production, something new evolves which does not destroy the past, but recuperates it. A good teacher is one "who reviews the old so as to find out the new".11 The inscription on the bathtub of King T’ang read, "If you can renovate yourself one day, then you can do so every day, and keep doing so day after day."12

This self-renovation is natural in the sense that it is in keeping with our human nature, for after all, it is man that can make the way great, and not the way that can make man great.13 The development of oneself is also natural in the sense that it takes time, and no artificial effort must be exerted to make the self grow. Mencius told a story of a man of Sung who was so eager to make his corn grow that he pulled it up only to be told by his son that the corn had already withered.14

The full development of the self, however, entails sincerity. Mencius said, "One who is sincere with himself is called a true man,"15 and the Doctrine of the Mean said, "Only those who are absolutely sincere can fully develop their nature," and only those who can fully develop their nature can develop the nature of others, and developing the nature of others can then develop the nature of things and assist in the transforming and nourishing process of Heaven and Earth.16 Sincerity is having no division in oneself, just like Nature (Heaven and Earth) which has no dalliances and thus can produce things in an unfathomable way.17 Sincerity is the completion of the self,18 thus the task of self-realization is to integrate oneself, to make oneself whole. But "sincerity is not only the completion of the self, it is that by which all things are completed. The completion of all things means wisdom. These are the characters of nature, and they are the way in which the internal and external are united."19

Being the completion of the self and of all things sincerity is "the beginning and end of things.20 Because the integration of self entails the development of the nature of things,

        Therefore absolute sincerity is ceaseless. Being ceaseless, it is lasting. Being lasting, it is evident. Being evident, it is infinite. Being infinite, it is extensive and deep. Being extensive and deep, it is high and brilliant. It is because it is extensive and deep that it contains all things. It is because it is high and brilliant that it overshadows all things. It is because it is infinite and lasting that it can complete all things. In being high and brilliant, it is a counterpart of Heaven. In being infinite and lasting, it is unlimited.21


Confucius was a sincere man "who conformed with the natural order governing the revolution of the seasons in heaven above, and followed the principle governing land and water below. He may be compared to earth in its supporting and containing all things, and to heaven in its overshadowing and embracing all things."22 It is possible then for man in time through sincerity to achieve harmony with nature.
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