Preliminary Study on the Essence of Chinese Culture
统一的中国，有利于人民的生计，群雄争霸的春秋战国时期有利于思想观点的发展。中国思想最活跃的时期莫过于春秋战国时期。那时出现了诸子百家，创立儒家道家等十几个流派。他们看春秋战国时期分裂的中国的视野大致和我们现在看世界各国的视野差不多。但我们信息比那时的人接受要多的多，科学技术要发达得多，各种物质生产要富足的多，所以是时候摆脱习惯以各种借口杀人特别是他国人的野蛮状态了。现在的世界已不能像那时靠武力来统一，得靠思想来统一，来归一。这为世界统一的思想，我们认为就是中国贯穿几千年的共同的主流思想 – 就是要尊重和爱护他人，是对他人的责任。因为对他人的爱即意味着对他人的责任。
老子在“道德经”里所述：“上善若水，水善利万物，而不争，处众人所恶，故几于道。” “与，善仁….., 夫唯不争，故无尤”这和孔子的思想一脉相通。老子这里讲的全是和他人怎么打交道。要像水一样，做有利他人的事，与别人相处，要做到心慈关爱，而不争抢他人的利益。只有这样做，才符合道德，才没有可担忧的事。
荀子集合儒家的仁与德，法家的奖与罚为一体，他说过：“礼者，人道之极也。然而不法礼，不足礼，谓之无方之民；法礼，足礼，谓之有方之士。” （见《礼论》），他又说过： “人无师法，则偏险而不正；无礼义，则悖乱而不治，古者圣王以人性恶，以为偏险而不正，悖乱而不治，是以为之起礼义，制法度， 以矫饰人之情性而正之，以扰化人之情性而导之也，始皆出于治，合于道者也。”（见《性恶》）。 荀子讲：“起礼义，制法度”就是建立起秩序和道德，并制定法律，德法兼用，而治乱和侵犯他人的行为。这里，我们不必太拘泥于荀子的“礼”具体讲得是什么。重点是探讨荀子讲如何治国。“礼”这里我们可以理解为公共秩序，一个有利于大家的秩序。当然荀子讲“人性恶”，这在物质生产还相当匮乏的当时是现实。即使是在现在，在物质生产相对富足的社会里，由于一部人受以前的影响而贪婪，不平等在最终结果上还现实的存在，社会生产只是相对富裕，还不是极大富裕等原因，这“人性恶”还在一部分人中表现出来。这会随着物质生产的大幅度提高，超过人本身的需求，教育程度的提高，人们认识到对他人的基本责任，以及对现实的认识，经过几代人而逐步改变。人生而善良会逐步体现，最终“人性善”—即为他人负责会成为全社会的意识。
Preliminary Study on the Essence of Chinese Culture
This is an important supplement of “Natural Responsibilities for Others and Natural Rights of Men”
(http://fengyi.blog.caixin.com/archives/date/2015/06). . It can be read as an independent article. But if interested, please refer to the article for the detailed discussion. Culture should include thoughts, speeches, articles, characters, educations, music, arts, performances and handicrafts etc. We hereby mainly discuss the thoughts and the articles and put forward our views. I exposed to the more the cultures and the experiences at the both sides, and would like to compare them to start a discussion.
First of all, Chinese culture is a culture of human being and the world. It is bright and broad, great men have been born continually. It doesn't talk about who is dominant. World's most advanced thoughts, the better truths have always been push forward. As a branch of world culture, Chinese culture has experienced and been refined through thousands of year. Which point is it good one and can be accepted by the whole world, which can accept its main ideas and its language. Surely it must be proved by the facts. This is not an easy topic. But the culture of thousands of year is reflecting the deliberate thinking of the sages in the pains of human’s wars and killings.
From the stone and iron ages, mankind has gone through the machine age and electricity age into the computer age and the digital age. But we have to say, the human thinking now still got stuck in the brutal phase of the stone and iron ages. Everything being good or bad is determined by the bound of a country. The country divisions have a certain good functions now in protections of the interests of the people in the areas, in competitions of the economic developments. But these divisions are limited to protect their own interests only. It should not expand the meaning of the protection at will, so as to infringe the interests of the other countries. People should not be in favor of the all persons or the everything only because they belong to their own country, not be in favor of those who are burning and killing in the outside of the country in execute of the interests and the security for their own country, not be in favor of the barbaric activities to kill the people of the other countries. And their people even give a worship to the killers as their national heroes. If this does not show the savage thoughts of these peoples, what else? If this does not reflect the amplifying thinking of savage tribes, what else? If not be the covered selfish thinking, what else ? Of course, peoples in different countries are different. Those in powers incited by the pure and narrow national feelings and therefore often won the supports from the citizens of their own countries owning to the more interests. They abandoned and put the deliberate thought a side. Instead, they started wars or battles between human, killed each other. We do not talk about Qin Shi Huang who buried scholars a live and burning books, and Julius Caesar’s cruelty to lives in million in the battles against Gaul (France) and Egypt, because at that period, human have not been civilized. But more than 70 years, human should be much civilized. We had Rousseau, Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson so on, the universal value and thought of the human rights of freedom, equality and philanthropism. But these could not stop the rise of fascist German, Italy and Japan, and their aggressions against others countries, and the mass of massacre of the other nations, and push this personal human rights and total disregard of others’ lives to the extreme end. In the last 20-30 years, a part of people still killed another people by weapons of mass destruction. It is full of such bloodshed in Human history. Some of these killings have been among the ethnic groups and nations, and some for other natural resources, some in order to conquer the world, some for the thought that one’s own nation was superior to the other nations just according to the nonsense, some for the oppression of their own people and so on. These aggressions and killings were said be for the sake of happiness and more safe for their own nations, and often obtained the supports from their own citizens. Thereby it illustrated the level of human thought. This demonstrated that the human mind remains at the stage of barbaric savages of the stone and the iron age. Some men used to kill some others as means to achieve the purpose or to solve the problems. And some others agreed with it. All these show the pursuit of self happiness without limits is very dangerous. Despite the explanation attached to the human rights is not to hurt others, but it is always fragile and forceless. It must be clearly spelled out in the title that the personal rights must be restricted with others’ interests. This is also confirmed by the practices of all countries, mainly insides. Keeping its reasonable core, this
selfish human rights must be abandoned, and replaced by the “Responsibilities for Others”. The human survival should be preconditioned of the basic responsibility for others. The every one of us is others’ of the other people. If everyone is responsible to others and does not infringe upon the interests of others, our personal interests and human rights can be reasonably safeguarded. If some part of people fail to comply with this responsibility, then the most of the people and other countries, other peoples ' interests are not protected. The natures of most of us are good, if you do right educations, the right leads, the good natures will be dominant
After the thoughts of the China’s Sages have been polished and refined in thousands of year, we further took off their different times, their different places and their different backgrounds, and so abstracted the essences of these thoughts. In our view, a red line which goes through the essences of these sages’ thoughts of thousands of year in common is the responsibilities for the others, which is most meaningful for us as well. From the “Ren” (Benevolence) of Confucius, Laozi's views of “Morality”, “Yi” (Righteousness) of Mencius, “Simultaneous Love ” of Mozi, “Follow the Etiquette and Righteousness and Hearted by Loving Others” of Xunzi till to “Serve the People” of Mao Zedong in modern time. All of these thoughts reflects the responsibilities to others. Most of these Sages lived during the years of wars, and therefore they first thought the relationship between peoples, and saw the chaos of the societies, thought that one should not infringe the others, idealized were the new societies with new orders, all of us should have responsibilities not to infringe the other countries and other nations at least. These ideas and the relative brilliant expositions reflected and emphasized the responsibility, which is the most basic requirement. This is the essence of Chinese culture, and the essence of the whole human thoughts. These views and the brilliant ideas have the great practical significance on us and whole humankind because it concerns the only key that the level of human thoughts can develop from barbarism toward the true civilization. Only to fulfill these sages’ ideas, the mankind’s thought can step into the real civilization.
Because this basic responsibility to the others is born with in the form of natural love, by using the same method, we call it as “Natural Responsibilities for Others”, which is different with “Natural Rights of Men” that emphasizes on the importance of individual rights. Because the “Natural Responsibilities for Others” emphasizes the basic responsibility of not infringing upon others' interests, thus it can unite the whole people as the one in the world, and therefore can avoid fighting with each others. This is the ideal of China, and also the world’s dreams. It is simple and clear and avoids the long preach. Cultures of the Eastern, the Western and the Arab are different, but the basic instinct of human survival is the same. This responsibility for others is natural, instinctive and basic, so it is common to all mankind. The term of the responsibility for others melts the languages of all countries in the world. This is human’s common, significant and new but old value, which builds a spiritual bridge for all people of the world, beyond the simple matter requirements of the human beings. If we can consciously fulfill this responsibility and even pay our self’s interests, it will sublimate as the highest form of human virtues. It forbids violating the interests of the others as the most basic requirement for mankind. This is the essence of Chinese culture and the essence of the entire human thought. The common activities for all heroes of each country are to sacrifice their personal interests for others. They are well performing and practicing this spirit, we are deeply moved.
Unified China is beneficial to the livelihood of people, but the period for Hegemony of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States is conducive to the flourishing ideas. The most flourishing period for Chinese thoughts is the Spring and Autumn and Warring States. At that time, there were Confucius, Laozi, Mencius, Mozi and so on. Confucianism, Taoism and more than 10 other schools were created. Their visions over then China separated in the period of Spring and Autumn and Warring States” is about same as the one we now have over all countries in the world. But the information we receive is much more than that period. Sciences and technologies have been much more advanced, all kinds of material productions are much richer, so it's time to get rid of the savage habit to kill others especially in the other countries in any excuses. The world cannot be unified with the army forces now days, but only with the thought and turns to the “One”. The thought to unify the whole world is the thought as we think as the red line is going through the most mainstream of the ideas the sages had in common in thousands of year. That is the responsibility for the others and the respect and love for others. Love means responsibility.
The core of Confucius’ idea is "Ren (Benevolence)". That is to “love others” ---, is “for the things I do not want, I should not impose them on others”, is “the Benevolence is my own responsibility, is it heavy? Do it till the death, is it too far away? ", is the" Self-control for the Etiquette is the benevolence”. We are not necessarily constrained to what the exact content of the “etiquette” was talked about by Confucius here. Of course it means differently according to the time. We can understand “ the Etiquette" here as a collective order and the respects each other. It safeguards the public interests. It requires to control one’s own, to respect the collective interests, i.e. the interests of others.
Laozi said in his "Morality ": "The best virtue is like water. Water benefits everything but never contends with its own contributions, stay in places all others do not want, that’s near to Dao ", " To deal with others, it is best to use the benevolence, you only do not contend with others, therefore you are never worried.". This thought is interlinked with Confucius. Here Laozi talked all about how to deal with the others. Like water, you are doing good things for the others, to get along with others with benevolence and love, rather than fighting for the interests of others. Only by doing so, you meet the best virtues and are never worried.
Xunzi said: "To Others, be respectful and faithful, follow the etiquette and righteousness, hearted by love of others. …... Take the hard labor before anyone else, but, give way of the pleasure to anyone else ". This thought has been shining in thousands of year, and will be implemented by us.
Mencius inherited the thinking of Confucius. The one of his central ideas is "Righteousness". This "Righteousness" does not simply mean the basic public morality accepted and the guidelines for getting along with people, but is the heroic acts ready to sacrifice the personal interests even one’s own lives for the public causes, collective interests and the good actions for others. Mencius said: "Feelings to shame and to hate are the righteousness ". What to shame and to hate? In today's words, it means that if someone does not comply with public morals, it should be shamed and hated. Conversely, if someone complies with these public morals for just cause, to sacrifice their own interests for the benefit of others, it is worth of glory and honor. We are deeply moved for these actions. Public morality is the virtues which do not infringe interests of the others. Voltaire said, "At any place, at any time, people who made the ultimate sacrifice for the common good, is known as the most moral person."
Of course the wicked and bad men need first to be deprived of their possibilities to infringe the interests of others.
Mozi discussed the “Simultaneous love others” in more details and said: " For ruling the world, the sages have to find out the reason of chaos of the world, it derives from not to love each other”. “If we can let the people of the world love each other simultaneously, loving others just like to love one’s own, seeing other’s family just like one’s own family, who would make any chaos? If we can see other country just like our own country, who would attack? To “love” others is the outside feeling of the responsibility for the others. The love of others is instincts responsibilities to protect, to care, to educate and to nourish the others etc. Here, however, it does not simply refer to the Philanthropism, but specially to love others. It has a huge difference, and specifies clearly the others to be loved. Although philanthropism also refers to love others, but that does not specify the responsibility to love others and therefore the purpose is not clear enough, the language power is insufficient.
Times have been passing by, but the essence of the culture will live forever. In history, China has more time to be integrated and less time to be apart, has never appeared the influential sages like the Confucius and Laozi until the emergence of Mao Zedong in the modern times after more than 1000 years. Chairman Mao put forward the ideas of "serve the people" and said: "our army is entirely for the liberation of the people, works entirely in the interests of the people." People are the all ones who do not injure, not hurt, and not infringe interests of the others as the objective purpose. Hereby, Chairman Mao taught us to work for the benefits of the others completely and entirely. This service is for the sake of others, is the principle of responsibilities for others. And he together with all Chinese people established the People's Republic. The Constitution of China specifies: " The People’s Republic of China is a unitary multinational state created jointly by the people of all its nationalities”, and “All power in the People’s Republic of China belongs to the people”. In the names of the country, the army and the money were added the word of "people's". It was the most precious and inexhaustible wealth that Chairman Mao left to us. We need particularly value this precious wealth. This is the essence of Chinese culture and tradition of thousands of year, is the valuable spiritual wealth of all mankind in the world.
China, the young People's Republic with a human distinguished thought older than thousand years , and being giving the thoughts a full play to the modern mainstream of the consciousness, has created the initial success. Can it be regarded as a proof of the ideas? Compared with capital countries of a few hundred years, this People’s Republic has been undergoing its 66 years. As a country, it has a long history, but as a people’s republic, it is still young. He certainly has many shortcomings, but what attitude we should hold to the vibrant but basically still a young child? He shoulders the heavy responsibility not let the country be in disorder, because anyone can't afford any experimental responsibility that may cause the disorder, let alone the preliminary great success according to the current policies. The main ideology of this young people’s Republic is to promote to serve the people from up to down of the country. That is to considerate for the others, to take responsibilities for others. In point of ideological and moral views, it has been contributing a superior virtue to China's modern mainstream of consciousness. It has constantly been struck by many difficulties and been experiencing the tests of various kinds in the strong fires. With bumps, it came over and is going forward into the future along the historical time tunnel with difficult but firm strides.
In the native and natural consciousness of people of all countries, there are various responsibilities to the others and responsibilities for the others’ lives as well as to all creatures. This” responsibility to the others” and “not infringe upon the interests of the others” will become the dominant thought sooner or later. It should become the good character not only in all of China but in all of countries in the world. “Responsibility for others”is also the real basis, preconditions and limits for individual freedom, equality. It also fully represents philanthropism, but higher than that. "Serve the people" and "Responsibility for others" are the historical and decisive principles and the ethics of mankind for getting along with others, it is worth to praise. For all those efforts and activities that comply with the direction of the principle, whether by an individual or by a country, we will be in favored of them and endorse and encourage them; for all activities that do not conform to the direction of the principle, we are not in favor of and against them. This does not only apply in their own countries, but to the other nations and other countries as well. People of the all countries make a joint efforts not let the old dreams of fascist Germany, Italy and Japan in the World War II to repeat in various forms. Not to do so, the people should all rise and is against it. In the countries with the electoral system, people should not vote for those who are ready to encroach on the interests of other countries, even if it is said to be for the self national interests. Since animals can be taken care of, tolerated and understood, why not do the same to the others, to the other nations? Otherwise, in the end, it reverses to harm one’s own, or is under pressure of destruction, then people can accept the principle.
Modern democracy and the rule of law are built on the basis of responsibility for others. With the responsibilities for other or the collectives (other’s common interests), the everyone's views on the bigger issues are listened to, so that everyone’s common interests or collective interests are not hurt as considerations and starting points, so the democratic approaches are created. But at the beginning, this democratic way is a means to achieve the common opinions to safeguard the interests of the majority. The means may vary. Due to the different historical backgrounds, democratic methods used are different from country to country, but it's all for the one purpose, namely, to safeguard the interests of the majority. The entire democracy cannot be built at one step. A social stability need to be maintained if it can represent the interests of the majority, it will be good to the livelihood of people. But the democracy should have a beginning and steady progress. Democracy of the most or all the people can better protect and represent the views and interests of the majority than an individual or a minority. Only when all people are conscious of not violating the interests of others, at that time, the material necessities for livelihood will be greatly enriched for everyone, the education level for everyone will be very high, then the democracy will become a human’s purpose, noble and luxury one for people to enjoy. Of course, democracy as a means or a purpose is not completely separated.
In the safeguard of people’s common interests, in order to limit and prevent one person from hurting others’ interests or public interests subjectively or objectively when he pursues his personal interests, the laws are created in order to safeguard the public and individuals legal interests by a proper forces, to function like “settle the disputes and stop arguments ” as said by Guanzi in ancient China. First, the laws are issued to determine the boundaries and the provisions of ownerships of the all interests and are able to settle disputes and stop the arguments. And the second, all lawsuits due to the unclear ownership of interests or deliberate violations of the others’ interest can be settled. For distinction of two circumstances of the terms used in Chinese, the first is better called “determine the laws and stop the arguments”; the second is better called “settle disputes and stop the arguments”. The first one talks about all laws to be issued by the authorities, is the basis and substratum for the second one. Ordinarily, most exposed are the second. Guanzi meant both as I think. So the rule of law is not only necessary for the maintenance of social stability and governance and for the maintenance of the harmonious relation between man and man as well. It is very important.
The bottom lines for Public moral should be the responsibility to not harm the interests of others and other countries. The highest virtue is also the responsibility for the others or the public interests (collective others) at the expenses of the self-sacrifice even one’s own life, namely "self-control for the etiquette". Below the bottom line of public moral and violations of the others, relative laws will apply and be enforced, so determine laws and stop the arguments, or settle disputes and stop the arguments.
Xuanzi integrated Confucian’s ideas as the benevolence and the virtue, and legalist’s ideas as the rewards and the punishments as a whole, he said: "the etiquette is the highest virtues for humane. However, if people do not follow the etiquette or not satisfy the etiquette requirements, then the people are called the persons with no discipline; if people follow the laws and satisfy the etiquette requirements, then the people are called the scholars with discipline." (see "On the Etiquette"), he also said: "a man does not learn the laws, he tends to the risks and is not the integrity man. No etiquette and righteousness, and the chaos will occur and therefore, the ancient kings thought owing to the natures of human are bad, owing to this likelihood to tend to the risks and being not integrity and the chaos therefore occur and that cannot be governed, and so they will set up the etiquette and righteousness and make the laws for it, and correct the thinks and the natures of human beings by the educations and leading them. All of these are from the point of views of the governance. These comply with the morality" (see "the Bad Nature"). "To Establish the Etiquette and Righteousness and to Make the Laws” said by Xuanzi is to set up the orders and moralities and make all laws, the both are used to govern the chaos and violations of others’ interests. Here, we need not be too constrained by the exact contents of "Etiquette" Xuanzi spoke. The focus is to discuss the Xuanzi’s ideas on how to govern a country. We can understand "The Etiquette" here as a public order, an order for everyone' s benefits. Of course, when Xuanzi said "bad human nature", the material production were fairly insufficient, the bad nature was the reality at that time. Even now, the material production has been relatively rich, some ones are still greed due to the previous influences, the inequality on the end result really exists, social production is relatively rich, but not greatly rich, "bad human nature" is still shown in a part of people. As the material production will be increased significantly, more than the people's daily needs, the education levels for everyone will be greatly increased, people can be conscious to abide by the basic responsibility for others, as well as the understanding of the reality, this will be eventually and gradually changed after the efforts of a few generations. In the end, "human nature is good" - that is responsibility for others will become the consciousness of the whole society.
The rule of morality is the direction and fundamental, the rule of the laws is the guarantee and the reality. With the continuous improvement of people's morality in the consciousness, the rule of law will slowly fade. In Xuanzi’s speech in two thousand years, the general policy of governing the country we should do now was then put forward, From this, we can see how great the sages were, his views is so profound. That is also because of the period of the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States when the thought were so open and active.
Because the early men were unable to produce enough necessities for survival, therefore, a part of the people have taken advantages from the majorities by the oppression and these parts enjoyed the relative rich material at that time. It made the most of people live at the hardly living levels or at a low level. So Confucius’ ideas of "love others" and “benevolent” were but ideal. Also due to the resistances against the oppressions, the individual human rights have broad space for development. As the capacity of the production is greatly increasing, both of "benevolence" and “love others” of Confucius and the sages and increasing understanding of responsibility for others, and individual human rights will develop in different directions. The thoughts of Confucius and the sages as well as Mao Zedong can be realized step by step, and the thought of human rights gradually fade due to its unreasonable defects. People are now still follow the previous inertia. But the old and new thoughts of Confucian, Laozi and other sages as well as Mao Zedong will be realized in all countries. Needless to speak, this “not infringe on the others, this “Natural Responsibility for Others” have been specially shown with its lightening in thousands of year. The new thoughts are developing and growing. It is the essence of Chinese culture. It will be like the morning sun which will eventually dominate the thoughts of world and will become the brightest public morality and principle of human beings.