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Confucianism Ideology and China's Modernization

Confucianism played an enormous role in formation of all Chinese conduct of life, beginning from social institutes to the family relations. The cult of Confucian tradition put during an era Han (3rd century BC - 2nd century AD) and renewed at Song (the 11-12th centuries), became an Alpha and Omega of all Chinese culture. Each Chinese was free or involuntarily proportioned the acts and thoughts to instructions of Confucianism. Therefore, it is possible to say that each Chinese was and has remained in a sense the Confucian.
Traditional China cultivated the representations proceeding from an unconditional priority of collective over the individual, denying the right of autonomous existence. Consciousness of masses had public and collectivist character. The member of the Chinese society was used to feel a grain of sand in the huge sea of everyday storms. Therefore it just could not present itself (himself) outdoors, families, collective, and a community. It is also necessary to consider huge impact on minds of millions of Chinese stereotypes of Confucianism.
The principles of the ethical and political doctrine of Confucianism, briefly speaking, were as follows: it is a cult of the father and seniors in a family, a cult of a family and clan, a cult of the officials scientists who turn around eventually in a cult of the power of the emperor going from the Sky, a cult of seniors in general on age and the social status, commitment to conservatism and traditions.
Features of the public and intellectual relations, standards of behavior created under the influence of Confucianism and existing nowadays in China, it is possible to reduce to the following main characteristics.
1) A strong feeling of communication between the past and the present is prevalent helping deep understanding of historical time and the long-term obligations necessary for achievement of achievements in institutional and similar areas. It strongly contrasts with the emphasis on the short-term effect connected with monetary human relations occurring in the western tradition.
 2) More in hierarchy of values belonging to human community, a community, than possession of property is important. Therefore, the economic power is in hands of the people who are following ethical standards, but at the same time well understanding economic reality.
3) An emphasis is put on a debt, duties. There is also a whole complex of the traditions interconnected with each other. This provides activity of all associates, communities within certain duties and divides in this regard equally both responsibility, and remuneration.
4) Emphasis also remains on management by means of a human factor or virtue, rather than the law that allows to increase harmony and unity in society; the role of a ritual or etiquette is at the same time emphasized; there is a tendency to provide a competition, the competition between people within the established ceremonies and rules of etiquette that allows to keep a social consent.
5) A strong emphasis on strict, even rigid competitive principles of education which provide for the rest of life high qualities in everything and allow representatives of bureaucracy to be always winners in any intellectual competition.
At the same time it must be kept in mind that Confucianism is not religion in the standard sense of this word. There is no special caste of priests. This ethical and political doctrine defining behavior and standards of thinking of Chinese, they proportion to the acts and thoughts. Therefore, for it is not necessary to create special temples.
After coming to power of ruling party, there was a negative attitude to Confucianism, in the years of the so-called cultural revolution. It appeared as "feudal stuff". Situation sharply changed only after transition of the country to "reform policy and openness" in 1979. It was connected with distribution in circles of the Chinese intellectuals of the ideas of "modern new Confucianism".
In 1958, four scientists living outside the continental China published the joint statement which can literally be translated as "The manifesto prevention of world community on the Chinese culture". The Chinese historiography dates this year emergence of "modern new Confucianism".
In this document, they actually brought up again those questions that were already discussed earlier, - about crisis of the Chinese culture and about ways of its overcoming. Representatives of "modern new Confucianism" saw a source of overcoming crisis in revival of national cultural wealth. They repeatedly emphasized that when studying the Chinese culture it is necessary to adhere to the principles of sympathy, respect for it. It will allow to see the special spirituality inherent in the Chinese cultural, philosophical traditions going from Confucius.
Unlike many predecessors, they saw existence in the Chinese civilization of all those elements that are in western, though expressed in other form. They did not contrast, for example, democracy and science to the Chinese culture. In "Manifesto" it was declared: "We recognize that in cultural history of China there was no democratic system and science existing in Europe during modern times and also various equipment therefore in China it could not be carried out original modern industrialization. However we cannot recognize that in the Chinese cultural ideology there were no elements of the democratic ideas, to deny the fact that internal requirements of political development demanded establishment of a democratic system. We also cannot recognize that the Chinese culture had antiscientific character, was directed to neglect by science and technology".
In confirmation of the point of view authors of "Manifesto" referred to the requirement of ethical justification of political actions, characteristic of Confucianism, and actions.
After the end of the cultural revolution in the 80th years supporters of "modern new Confucianism" appeared also among scientists in People's Republic of China. Gradually also the relation of official circles to cultural heritage began to change.
According to supporters of this direction, being a quintessence of traditional Chinese culture, Confucianism is capable to play a role of driving force of modernization of China, to become spiritual power of updating of the Chinese society. However Confucianism - not closed system to serve modernization business, it has to apprehend certain elements of the western culture. Speaking about these elements, usually mean "science" and "democracy". Their "assimilation" is the content of modernization of Confucianism without what it is not able to play the historical role in the modern world.
Chinese are certain that in traditional Chinese culture there is "a rich contents" which can be borrowed. Spirit of persistence, readiness for intense struggle at achievement of any purposes. In China always on the first place there was an everyday life with her cares and difficulties. As Confucius spoke, "noble is persistent, without being tired", it possesses words: "If you do not know life, then as you can know death". In other words, the Confucian philosophy urged to rely on own forces, not to trust in prejudices. It cultivated in Chinese the aspiration to conduct resolute, unshakable fight against all dangers menacing to the nature and society. Paramount significance is attached to practice, actions, but not abstract reflections.
Moral self-improvement was always important for Chinese thinkers. Mencius said that "spiritual perfection is fine". Therefore "low bents", for example money-making, thirst of enrichment, etc. were condemned.
Patriotism. In the ancient time there was a saying: "Prosperity and death of Celestial Empire depend on people".
Aspiration to the truth, the truth, justice. In the Chinese society, false and dishonest people were exposed to condemnation, they were considered as low people. Words were the motto: "It is enough to learn in morning the truth and then it is possible to die in the evening". For the sake of achievement of the truth "the noble husband" is ready to offer the life.
Spirit of unity and mutual aid, respect to old and care of children.
Humanistic approach to human relations. Therefore, the principles of Confucianism are applicable also for the managing of society, and for settlement of international issues.
According to the Chinese scientists, it is impossible to directly contrast traditional culture and modernization. Figuratively speaking, traditional culture - not dead, but water of life. The culture is gradually subject to change. Therefore, there is an updating of its separate elements. In traditional culture, link of times - last, real and future is relevant.
Gradually understanding an important role of Confucianism as a spiritual component of modernization of the Chinese society begins to get also into minds of political elite, party management, and the persons who are responsible for decision-making for ideological questions as on local, regional, and on central levels.
In recent years, the top Chinese management constantly addresses theoretical heritage of Confucius. On a plenum of the Central Committee of the CPC "social harmony" was defined as "intrinsic property of socialism with the Chinese specifics". Explaining this situation, the Chinese theorists and analysts emphasize that the culture of harmonious socialist society has to be national culture. The appeal of the Chinese leaders to the ideas of social harmony is not casual: in the conditions of the reforms undertaken in China welfare of the population in general increased, but at the same time there were also serious problems - property stratification, a gap in the level of development between various regions, considerable number of the unemployed, etc. Therefore, there was a need for harmonization of the social relations.
Both revival of a cult of Confucius, and promotion of the principles of the Confucian doctrine are not casual. It must be kept in mind that in Marxism, there is no developed ethical theory, his founders and their followers first of all were interested in the social and economic problems connected with liquidation of capitalist society and creation of socialism. Therefore, the Chinese leaders cannot but address the traditional cultural heritage.
Not casually, an emergence in statements of heads of China of references to lectures of Confucian thinkers. In the same Confucian spirit, the formula "eight the esteemed and eight despised" which was sounded by the country leaders is sustained:
Deserve honoring: love for the country, service to the people, aspiration to science, diligence, mutual aid and unification, honesty, persistence, compliance with laws;
Deserve contempt: causing damage to the Homeland, treason to the people, ignorance, laziness, egoism, dishonesty, life in the pleasure, violation of laws.
Strategic course of the Chinese leaders acts as construction of socialism with the Chinese specifics. Naturally, therefore, in the last thirty years, the main attention was paid to development of economy. Unprecedented economic growth of China for these years is well-known. However, along with obvious achievements in the course of modernization, there were serious problems, including social and spiritual spheres. It forced the Chinese leaders to look for ways of their decision.
Therefore, there was a need of the appeal to the national spiritual traditions, to Confucianism. Especially, as we already noted, in Marxism there is no specially developed ethical theory. At the same time, Confucianism throughout centuries has developed into a quite harmonious system of ethical principles of relationship of people, society and the nature, interstate relations.
Confucius called for ‘humane’ nature of human relations. Therefore, promotion of Confucianism is intended to provide tranquility in a family and labor collectives.
It is possible to tell, that Confucianism becomes a spiritual component of socialism with the Chinese specifics, there is a process of connection of the Chinese Marxism with Confucianism.
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