from the world's big
THE CULT OF RU - Where Christianity and the West ends...
A LOT of people ask me about RUXUE –Confucianism:
“Is it an organized religion?”
“Does it exist in Europe/the US?”
“Are there Western Confucianists?”
“How do I become a disciple?” [and so on…]
I have written about Chinese Terminologies, because the original terms matter A LOT; and now it is time, perhaps, to see the wise words of America’s most renowned Confucian scholar, Roger T. Ames, in print here on that very subject. The following is a transcript from my own notes from his talk at Peking University, the mother lode of Chinese higher education:
RELATED American Confucianism
a) On Ruxue and Ru literati
We are getting rid of the term “Confucianism”. The correct term is “ru” which is a class of scholars, hence: ruxue/rujia: “It did not start with Confucius and it didn’t end with him.”
They say 60 generations before Confucius you have ‘ru’; 80 generations after Confucius you have ‘ru’. Scholars like Tang Yijie and Tu Weiming, they are in charge of ‘ru’ today, and they are taking this culture and passing it down to the next generation – you!
If you go to the study of a ‘ru’, it is not like that of a priest in Christianity. You will see on his shelf all kinds of books -the classics, but also other intellectual works: “The ‘ru’ is a literatus.”
b) On Culture and Being Human
Culture is what makes us human beings. In the Chinese tradition of ‘ru’ what most distinguishes human beings from animals is ‘li’ (ritual). “Culture is thus the ornamentation of one’s social existence.” In order to understand the ru literati, “we have to think in terms of relationality: The world is a network of relationships –guanxi!”
RELATED Was Confucius a “Genius”?
c) Losing a friend or family member is like a surgery
One [Western] way to think about individuals is that if you lose somebody you are still a sovereign intact individual; however in the Confucian tradition it is as if someone cuts out a piece of you, it’s surgical. Maybe the most important concept in the Chinese tradition is ‘ren’ (humanity), which derives from the character for ‘ren’ (person) and ‘er’ (two).
d) A New Anthropology
When Fei Xiatong, a pioneer in the field of anthropology, first studied at Tsinghua University in China and then at the London School of Economics, upon his return to China he had concluded that “China was such a different society from the European one that European theories did not seem to apply,” so that a new set of theories in anthropology was needed for China and East-Asia.
e) Use of Western categories for everything Chinese
“We always use Western terminologies to organize the Chinese; we ask was Mozi a utilitarian; not if John Stuart Mill was a Mozi.”
f) Xiao isn’t translatable as filial piety
Filial piety is not Xiao; the Chinese concept has little to do with piety in a Christian sense of the word; yet we still use biblical vocabulary for the Confucian tradition.
g) The Language of Knowing
There is not just one language of knowledge; there are many. In the Western tradition the language of knowing is often ‘to grab, to get, to grasp’ as in grasping an idea: “The Chinese language of knowing is that of ‘lijie, liaojie, zhidao’ which has to do with unraveling.” For Aristotle, to know something means to be able to name it. If you can name it, it means you know it. But for Confucius, he has to know you by different names, to map you, to see all your relationships: “In Confucianism, the language of knowing is to know all different kind of relationships.”
h) The Wenren
The wenren is a literati, he is gentle, refined, and civil. ‘Wen’ is different from Western ‘culture’ which has a feeling of ‘growing’ or ‘husbandry’ to it; while ‘wen’ has to do with ornamentation, art, calligraphy, and so on:
“Just as having an educated ear can help you to differentiate and distinguish all kinds of music, and just as having an educated palate can make you enjoy different tastes; so is being educated making us elegant in our experience of the world.”
i) Castration a form of ‘xiao’ (filial piety)?
Si Maqian’s punishment is to show ‘xiao’ [toward the life work of his father, Si Matan] in a very dramatic way.
j) What we need is a new cultural order.
“I am not has the answers to the world’s problems; but it has very important contribution to make. It can change our values, interests, practices. We have to talk about relationships instead about individuals. And we have to stop [silly] finite games in which individuals either win or lose.”
k) Different people need different language
“I can’t use language the same way with two very different people. Confucius would give each person a different answer, because they are different people.”
l) Confucian education and writing you own life
Education in Confucius’ ideal is not about getting a degree. It is about becoming a human being. It is not about writing a book, it is about writing your own life.
m) Individuality in Confucianism
The process of ‘li’ (ritual) is saying that ruxue always the becoming of a person. Only you can be that person, that son of that man, that daughter of that mother, etc. It’s about making the tradition your own, living it. The goal of such a life is all about contribution [to that tradition] -it is not just about growing old.
Note: This is a version from a chapter in the forthcoming ‘Knowledge is a Polyglot – The Rise of Chinese Terminologies in the 21st Century’ by Thorsten Pattberg (Hanban/Foreign Language Press, 12/2014)
Image credit: Zhu Difeng/Shutterstock.com
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
Join Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and best-selling author Charles Duhigg as he interviews Victoria Montgomery Brown, co-founder and CEO of Big Think.
Women today are founding more businesses than ever. In 2018, they made up 40% of new entrepreneurs, yet in that same year, they received just 2.2% of all venture capital investment. The playing field is off-balance. So what can women do?
In a recent study, researchers examined how Christian nationalism is affecting the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A new study used survey data to examine the interplay between Christian nationalism and incautious behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The researchers defined Christian nationalism as "an ideology that idealizes and advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture."
- The results showed that Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior.
A pastor at the chapel of the St. Josef Hospital on April 1, 2020 in Bochum, German
Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images<p>Christian nationalists, in general, believe the U.S. and God's will are tied together, and they want the government to embody conservative Christian values and symbols. As such, they also believe the nation's fate depends on how closely it adheres to Christianity.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unsurprisingly then, in the midst of the COVID‐19 pandemic, conservative pastors prophesied God's protection over the nation, citing America's righteous support for President Trump and the prolife agenda," the researchers write.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Correspondingly, the link between Christian nationalism and God's influence on how COVID‐19 impacts America can be seen in proclamations about God's divine judgment for its immorality―with the logic being that God is using the pandemic to draw wayward America <em>back </em>to himself, which assumes the two belong together."</p><p>The logical conclusion to this kind of thinking: America can save itself not through cautionary measures, like mask-wearing, but through devotion to God. What's more, it stands to reason that Christian nationalists are less likely to trust the media and scientists, given that these sources are generally not concerned with promoting a conservative, religious view of the world.</p><p>(The researchers note that they're unaware of any research directly linking Christian nationalism to distrust of media sources, but that they're almost certain the two are connected.)</p>
Predicted values of Americans' frequency of incautious behaviors during the COVID‐19 pandemic across values of Christian nationalism
Perry et al.<p>In the new study, the researchers examined three waves of results from the Public and Discourse Ethics Survey. One wave of the survey was issued in May, and it asked respondents to rate how often they engaged in both incautious and precautionary behaviors.</p><p>Incautious behaviors included things like "ate inside a restaurant" and "went shopping for nonessential items," while precautionary behaviors included "washed my hands more often than typical" and "wore a mask in public."</p><p>To measure Christian nationalism, the researchers asked respondents to rate how strongly they agree with statements like "the federal government should advocate Christian values" and "the success of the United States is part of God's plan."</p><p>The results suggest that, compared to other groups, Christian nationalists are far less likely to wear masks, socially distance and take other precautionary measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior during the pandemic, and the second leading predictor that Americans avoided taking precautionary measures."</p><p>But that's not to say that religious beliefs are causing Americans to reject mask-wearing or social distancing. In fact, when the study accounted for Christian nationalist beliefs, the results showed that Americans with high levels of religiosity were likely to take precautionary measures for COVID-19.</p>
Limitations<p>Still, the researchers note that they're theorizing about the connections between Christian nationalism and COVID-19 behaviors, not documenting them directly. What's more, they suggest that certain experiences — such as having a family member that contracts COVID-19 — might change a Christian nationalist's behaviors during the pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Limitations notwithstanding, the implications of this study are important for understanding Americans' curious inability to quickly implement informed and reasonable strategies to overcome the threat of COVID‐19, an inability that has likely cost thousands of lives," they write.</p>
Parental anxieties stem from the complex relationship between technology, child development, and the internet's trove of unseemly content.