China News Agency, Beijing, January 6th: How does the modern world move towards “one family under heaven”?
——Interview with Sun Xiangchen, Dean of School of Philosophy and Director of General Education Center, Fudan University
China News Agency reporter Wen Longjie
“Family” plays an important role in Chinese civilization, contains unique ideological resources, and even becomes a paradigm for understanding the world.
In recent years, “family” has received renewed attention from intellectual circles, and “family philosophy” has been rated as one of the “Top Ten Hot Spots in Chinese Humanities and Academics” in 2021. In the thick package of culture, what is the difference between the depth of “home” and the “home” in Western philosophy? Can “home” become a universal philosophical topic in a generalized and decontextualized discourse? China News Agency “West Questions” recently exclusively interviewed Professor Sun Xiangchen, Dean of the School of Philosophy at Fudan University and Director of the General Education Center.
The interview transcript is summarized as follows:
Reporter from China News Agency: In recent years, you have devoted yourself to the philosophical exploration of the home. Can you introduce what is a home in the philosophical sense?
Sun Xiangchen:“Family” is a topic that people are particularly eager to discuss, and it is also a very complicated topic. Especially since the May 4th Movement, “anti-family and non-filial piety” has become the mainstream of society. The more typical ones are Ba Jin’s “Family”, “Spring”, “Autumn”, Lu Xun’s “Diary of a Madman” mentioned “ethics cannibalism” and so on. In addition to these literary works with relatively large social influence, Chen Duxiu, Hu Shi, Fu Sinian, Gu Jiegang, etc. also criticized the Chinese family culture ideologically. Home, in our context, carries too many heavy memories of individuals, nations and history.
It must be realized that “home” has different levels of meaning in Chinese or Chinese thought traditions, and if it is not clearly distinguished, it is easy to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Therefore, it is necessary to get to the bottom of the matter. First, we must distinguish between the profound tradition of the family in Chinese culture and the philosophical meaning of the family;
Any civilization is concerned with the issue of “immortality”. The ancient civilization Egypt used mummies to visually express the immortality of life, Christianity used God, and Buddhism used the reincarnation of the soul. The Chinese, especially the Confucianists, understand “immortality” mainly through “endless life”.
“Endless life” can be regarded as a basic belief in Chinese culture. For example, in the story “The Foolish Old Man Moves the Mountains”, the most fundamental difference between the Yugong and the wise old man is that the time world of the wise old man is as vast and long as the sky and the earth, “children and grandchildren are infinitely scarce”, while the time world of the wise old man is limited to this life A generation. Based on the concern and confidence in “generations”, the Chinese will pay special attention to the continuation of life, and attach the most importance to the emotions between generations, which was called “kiss” in ancient times. Also, kissing is great.”
The audience visited Xu Beihong’s work “The Foolish Old Man Moving Mountains”.Photo by Yang Bo
In the tradition of Western philosophy, there are many discussions on love (Eros), friendship (Philia) and God’s holy love for people (Agape) in Christianity, but there is little talk about the love of relatives and the affection between parents and children. . The Chinese also develop a fundamental Chinese virtue of “filial piety” in the love of relatives. The upper part of the word “filial piety” is “old” and the lower part is “son”, which means the combination of different generations, and the philosophy of “family” is developed through “father’s kindness and son’s filial piety”.
Western love begins with love, while Chinese people pay more attention to “love begins with relatives”. The former pays attention to the individual, so Heidegger said that human beings are “existence towards death”; the Chinese reveal the dimension of existence facing the future generations, and attach importance to the continuity between lives. ” said. For example, the two Chinese characters “teaching” and “learning” are both related to “son”, and both are related to the inheritance from generation to generation. Worship in sequence. By mining the philosophical meaning of “home”, it is helpful to understand life in the continuity of generations.
“Family portrait” of Zhu Maosong and Qin Weifang, husband and wife who “war against the epidemic” in the First People’s Hospital of Xiaogan, Hubei.Photo by Yan Meihua
Reporter from China News Agency: What is the position of “family” in the traditional Chinese thought?
Sun Xiangchen:“Home” is the basic form of human existence, and it occupies a pivotal position in the Chinese thought tradition.
Vertically, “cautiously chase after the end” upwards, and “endless life” downwards, “home” becomes the hub of Unicom’s generations. Horizontally, Chinese people talk about “cultivating one’s morality, governing one’s family, governing the country and the world.” It seems that “cultivating one’s morality” is the basis for cultivating Qi and peace. In fact, what is cultivated is filial piety to parents, love to children, and righteous obedience to husband and wife. “Self-cultivation” is not It is purely individual practice, but a kind of practice in family relationship. Therefore, “family” is the core of Qi Zhiping, the country is a big family, and the world is “a family from all over the world”.
China News Agency reporter: Thinking about “home” from the perspective of civilization theory, why is “home” so important in Chinese civilization?
Sun Xiangchen:In fact, ancient Greece also talked about “home”, but after the rise of the city-state, it had a restraining effect on the culture of “home”. Christianity also talked about “home”. But the sanctified “family” conceals the real “family” in reality; in China, “family” is the standard, and the world is consciously understood with the basic characteristics of the family.
Compared with other civilizations, Chinese civilization does not rely on Greek-style gods, Christian-style personal gods, or the six reincarnations of Buddhism, but uses “family”, the basic link of survival, as the basis for the development of civilization.
Chinese culture has developed an ethical system based on the “family”, benevolent to the people, benevolent to the people, and love things, and finally achieved universal love through “tweeting grace”, which is the so-called “old and my old, and the old of people; the young and the young, and the child of man”, forming a moralized world. In addition, “family” still has a strong spiritual sustenance for Chinese people, so it pays attention to “cautiously pursuing the future”, and also emphasizes returning to the roots of fallen leaves.
103-year-old Li Baoying peels camellia oleifera fruit accompanied by his seventy-year-old daughter-in-law.Photo by Zhao Chunliang
Reporter from China News Agency: Do you think that people miss “home” everywhere, does “home” have a worldwide and broad philosophical foundation, and what does it mean to all mankind?
Sun Xiangchen:When I lectured on Chinese philosophy in Berlin, I especially emphasized the philosophical starting point of “body, hair and skin, receive from parents”. German students can understand and even empathize with them. It’s just that Western culture has not developed such a systematic and systematic family culture. . “Home” has a deep soil and foundation in the Chinese world. In recent years, I have tried to extract a more rational and universal “family philosophy” on this basis, and explore its philosophical contributions to all mankind.
As far as modern society is concerned, “family philosophy” should be a good medicine for curing modern diseases. In the modern world, people are independent individuals in terms of politics, law, economy, and society. This is of course progressive and affirms the dignity and value of individuals. In traditional society, it is difficult for individuals to survive independently, and they need to rely on a larger community. In ancient Greece, man was a city-state animal; in Catholicism, man relied on the church; in India, man was a village animal; in China, man was a family animal. Only in modern society can an individual exist independently. The great abundance of material culture reduces people’s dependence on the whole.
On the other hand, human existence is still social. Although there are only two Chinese characters for “人”, it expresses mutual support; It expresses the close relationship between the two. People can be independent intellectually, but emotionally they are deeply attached to each other. As far as the latter is concerned, the support given by modern society is very insufficient, so the so-called existential problems arise, and people’s sense of absurdity, floating, and nothingness all explode. The strong individual concept formed in the Western cultural tradition, once there is no God as an inner support, that is, after Nietzsche said “God is dead”, the “individual” is in a floating state. “Family philosophy” has changed from “kissing” to “kindness”. Its way of understanding the world is relational and supportive, and its basic tendency is to bring people closer from a distance to form a warm world.
Compared with Greece’s particular emphasis on rationality, “family” emphasizes emotion and the interrelationship among members. As a category of civilization theory, “home” is based on the warmth of homeland rather than the barrenness of the blank land.
Schoolchildren in Nanning, Guangxi show off their written characters for “人”.Photo by Yu Jing
China News Agency reporter: How to break the theory of clash of civilizations by elucidating the concept of “one world is one family”?
Sun Xiangchen:Humans are different from animals. They do not live by instinct, but live in the “three views”, with world outlook, outlook on life and values. There are very progressive aspects in Western cultural traditions, but there are also various weaknesses and even drawbacks. For example, according to Hobbes’ theory, in the state of nature, man is “a war of all against all”, and the basic relationship between people is understood and defined as mutual conflict, struggle, and exclusion. Like the individual level, nation-states are also in a struggle to understand the relationship between states. Kant talked about perpetual peace, the premise of which is also the struggle between countries. Huntington’s theory of the clash of civilizations also copied Hobbes’ logic of conflict.
From individual conflicts, nation-state conflicts to civilization conflicts, the basic logic is the same, all stemming from the pursuit of self-power. The fundamental reason is that its philosophical model is individualistic, that is, I and others are strangers to each other.
The philosophy of “family” starts from “kissing”, focusing on the relationship between each other, but also emphasizing “difference”. “Harmonious but different” further summarizes this ideal state of “home”. Under the framework of this “family philosophy”, each individual can be different, but attributing “harmony” because of “kissing” does not necessarily point to conflict. Developing the benevolent spirit of “universal love for the world” from the “love of relatives” in family philosophy can establish a new understanding of the community and the relationship between countries, which is the concept of “the world is one family”.
“Family philosophy” aims to bring others closer, emphasizing “as close as brothers”, forming a sense of commonality and family atmosphere, and on this basis, forming the mutual relationship of “one family under heaven”, which changes the understanding of the world in philosophy It can provide a new set of philosophical system, and on this basis, it is possible to form a new view of the world, thereby promoting the realization of a community with a shared future for mankind. Distilling universal meaning from a healthy “home” culture is especially important in the modern world. (Finish)
Sun Xiangchen, professor of Fudan University, dean of the School of Philosophy, and director of the General Education Center; selected as a leading talent in social sciences (2020) and a leading talent in Shanghai (2019) in the national “Ten Thousand Talents Program”. He has been a visiting scholar and visiting professor at Yale University, University of Chicago, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris, Free University of Berlin, Germany and other universities. The teaching projects led or participated won the first prize of national teaching achievement (2018) and the second prize of national teaching achievement (2014). He has published many papers in journals such as “Chinese Social Science” and “Philosophical Research”, and many of his books and papers have won the Shanghai Philosophy and Social Science Outstanding Achievement Award. Two articles, “Double Ontology: The Basis for Shaping the Value Form of Modern China” and “Modern Individual Rights and the “Individual” in the Confucian Tradition” were selected as the “Top Ten Annual Promotion Papers of Shanghai Social Federation” in 2015 and 2017 respectively.