American Confucianism

How the perfect American Confucianism ought to be constructed


BEIJING - There ruminates a discussion, from east to west, as to how the perfect American Confucianism ought to be constructed. Should it be transplanted from China; or implanted from within America?

There are two possible sinotypes: One is ‘Chinese American Confucianism’ and the other is ‘American Chinese Confucianism’. Obviously, a blending is possible, possibly even desirable, but let us ponder a bit longer on those two extremes:

Chinese American Confucianism means that Chinese language elements slowly sink into American society. American Chinese Confucianism, on the other hand, refers to English words fueling a bit on Chinese meanings.

The difference between those two modes – or directions - of Western sinification, if you will, is considerable, and their advantages and disadvantages must be addressed:

Chinese American Vs. American Chinese

Chinese American Confucianism feels exotic and unique, because an entire set of new terminologies, categories, and taxonomies will be imported from China to the US. At the same time, however, it may also feel intrusive and alien to the establishment.

American Chinese Confucianism has literally skinned itself from its Chinese form and body-snatched English words as vehicle for entering Western thought. The words all sound familiar to the ear at first; however, the superimposed Confucian spiritualism may just feel otiose.

The two modes of American Confucianism are well represented, I think, in the main writings of two of the greatest contemporary American sinologists and their schools:

Roger T. Ames from the University of Hawai’i favors Chinese American Confucianism. He introduces Confucianism to America by importing Chinese key terminologies. For instance, the true name of the Chinese tradition isn’t “Confucianism,” but is ‘rujia’, meaning a school of literati. Or, ‘Tianxia’ (all under heaven) is very different from our biblical “Heaven,” and so on.

On the other side of the spectrum we have Tu Weiming, a former Harvard professor (and US citizen), who best represents, I think, American Chinese Confucianism. When he speaks about Confucianism, he does so in the most beautiful and eloquent English prose. For instance, Tu understands ‘ren’ as “humanity,” or even “concrete humanity.” ‘Shengren’ he calls “philosophers” or “sages,” and so on.

English Language and Chinese Loanwords

There are many US scholars of the two alignments, and a little pattern emerges: in ‘China studies,’ it seems to be the case that ethnic Chinese scholars tend to switch, and switch so eagerly, to the English language, norms and categories; while Western scholars seem overtly keen on adopting at least some Chinese loanwords.

Both attitudes in east and west are understandable and perhaps reflect the human rational to make good use and to amply demonstrate what has been learned and acquired: the Chinese scholars make it known to the world that they mastered English; the non-Chinese scholars show their appreciation for Chinese culture.

The two groups together embody a terrific example of mutual learning, and national governments should take notice. Countries should try to balance exchange; perhaps always taking as many scholars in as they are willing to send out. Why, because if it’s totally unbalanced, the two possible outcomes of American Confucianism – as seen – are not the same by quite a margin!

The Americanized Confucianism

The overall influence of American Confucianism - really both of its modes – in American society is still largely insignificant, but it is certainly growing in East Asia studies. It will have to “modernize” for free America, above all:

In classical Confucianism, notorious for its hierarchies and code of conduct, as a rule, you don’t want to be the butt of society, but belong to the elite – the learned and superior ‘junzi.’

The large majority of the people are kept in place as moral slaves absolutely dependent on the sages’ wisespeak.

Image credit: Tanxxx/Shutterstock.com

Read at China Daily.

22 months of war - condensed in a 1-minute video

No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
  • The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
  • This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
  • Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
Keep reading Show less

Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

Keep reading Show less

How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.

content.jwplatform.com
Videos
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
Keep reading Show less