4/14/2009

东方和西方,儒家仍能对我们讲话

作者 牛津大学著名学者蒂莫西·加顿·阿什

加拿大《环球邮报》4月9日

4月14日《参考消息》摘译 题:从中国儒学复兴看人类文明对话

在中国,儒学复兴了。中国学者于丹所著《于丹<论语>心得》的销量已超过1000万,其中约600万显然为盗版书。她的这本书被称为中国版“心灵鸡汤”。在中国著名学府清华大学校园内曾有一尊毛主席的雕像,现在则耸立着一尊孔子的雕像。中国一家国家级电影制片厂准备筹资拍摄一部关于孔子的电影,香港影星周润发将饰演孔子。中国显然还有许多儒家私立学校。

儒学的复兴可以说是一件公私兼具、涉及社会和国家的大事。胡锦涛主席曾引述孔子说过的“和为贵”,大力宣扬共产党构建和谐社会、和谐世界的目标。几年后温家宝总理宣称,从孔子到孙中山,中华民族的传统文化有无数宝贵成分,其中他提到了“不同观点的沟通和协调以及分享共有的世界”。

在北京孔庙举办的一次展览上,一张挂图上明确标出了遍及全球的中国孔子学院所在地的位置。中国的孔子学院相当于德国的歌德学院和我们的英国文化协会。尽管这些孔子学院目前主要致力于教授中文,但这次展览显然暗示全世界都能从对孔子思想的更深理解中受益。

有一种学习这种儒家传统思想的过于简单化的方法,也有一种更为有趣的方法。那种过于简单化的方法是从儒家学说中寻找理解当代中国社会政治甚至外交政策的关键。这就是我所说的庸俗亨廷顿主义的一个例子。它是你在塞缪尔·亨廷顿的《文明冲突》中找到的文化决定论的简易版本:“中国人都是儒家学说的追随者,因此他们的行为会像这样……”

首先,儒家学说有许多差别很大的版本。政治理论家丹尼尔·贝尔就辨别出如下几种儒家学说:自由的儒家学说,官方或保守的儒家学说,左翼儒家学说以及非政治化的流行儒家学说(比如于丹的“心灵鸡汤”)。更重要的是,儒家学说在今天中国的综合性特征中只是一个组成成分。中国社会和政治制度的许多特征无需用儒家学说就能解释清楚。除了儒家学说,你在中国还可以看到列宁主义、资本主义、道教、西方消费社会、社会主义、中国古代法家学说的帝国主义传统等成分。

正是各种成分的混合体定义了中国模式。无论从哪方面看,中国模式尚未完全形成,因为中国依然是一个发展中国家。只有当中国更发达时,我们才会确切知道中国模式是什么。此时,如果我们必须为现今中国找到一个惟一标签的话,那么比儒家学说更恰当的一个候选词将是“拼凑主义”。秘密就在拼凑上。

因而可以断定,将与中国在政治和知性方面的对话想像成“文明之间的对话”是错误的。在这种想法下,我们西方人将我们所说的“西方价值观”摆上桌面,中国人将他们所说的“中国价值现”摆上桌面,然后我们再来看哪些价值观匹配,哪些不匹配。

这完全是胡说。根本就没有纯粹、地道、单独的西方文明或中国文明这样的东西。我们所有人上千年来一直在相互融合,尤其是最近200年来。文化纯洁性的说法只是一种矛盾修饰法。是的,在中国,儒家学说比天主教更重要,而在美国加州,天主教比懦家学说更重要。但在东方有更多的西方思潮,在西方有更多的东方思潮,这种情况比大多数人想像的更为普遍。此外,甚至在2500年前,当中国和欧洲的确是相距遥远的两个世界时,孔子谈到了一些柏拉图和索福克勒斯同样关注的问题,因为这些问题具有普遍性。

因此,西方人了解儒家学说的有趣方式很不一样。中国官方孔子学院将在这方面提供支持。这种方式的出发点是一个简单的命题:这里有一位伟大的思想家,他在今天仍能教我们一些东西。两千多年来,不同时代、不同流派的学者不仅解释了儒家学说,他们还在此过程中加入了他们自己的想法。我们应该试着去了解孔子和他们这些人,正如我们了解柏拉图、耶稣、佛和达尔文一样。这不是文明之间的对话,而是文明内部的对话。正是人类文明使得我们比动物更高明。

原文:

East and West, Confucianism speaks to us all

TIMOTHY GARTON ASH

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
April 9, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

BEIJING — When I was a young child, China was, for me, a vaguely comical Chinese man with a wispy mustache, dressed in an embroidered silk robe and conical hat, exclaiming in a funny accent: "Confucius he say ..." Later, it was black-and-white photos of a Mao-period sculpture of a prerevolutionary rent-collection courtyard, shown me by an enthusiastic English schoolmaster. Then it was the naively misinterpreted madness of the Cultural Revolution and the Red Guards. And now it is an American-educated Chinese academic in a dark suit, telling me in excellent English, "So, what Confucius says is ..."

Everyone knows that in China, Confucianism is back. A popularization of Confucius by a media-friendly academic, Yu Dan, has sold more than 10 million copies. Her book has been called "Chinese chicken soup for the soul." On the campus of Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University, there used to be a statue of Chairman Mao; now there's Confucius. A Confucius film is to be made with funding from a state film company, with Chow Yun-Fat as the Master.

This is a private and public revival, a social and a party-state affair. "Confucius said, 'Harmony is something to be cherished,' " President Hu Jintao observed in 2005, promoting the Chinese Communist Party's proclaimed goals of a harmonious society and world. "From Confucius to Sun Yat-sen," Prime Minister Wen Jiabao averred a couple of years later, "the traditional culture of the Chinese nation has numerous precious elements." In his book China's New Confucianism, Montreal-born political theorist Daniel A. Bell quips that the CCP might one day be renamed the Chinese Confucian Party.

At an exhibition in the largest Confucian temple in Beijing, electric lights on a wall map pinpoint the spread of world branches of the Confucius Institute, a relatively new counterpart to the likes of Germany's Goethe Institute. While China's institutes are currently devoted mainly to teaching language, the exhibition clearly implies the benefit of Confucian thought.

There's a simplistic way to read this renaissance, and a more interesting one.

The simplistic way is to seek in Confucianism the key to understanding contemporary Chinese society, politics, even foreign policy. But for a start, there are many contrasting versions. Prof. Bell, for instance, distinguishes among liberal Confucianism, official or conservative Confucianism, left Confucianism and depoliticized pop Confucianism (Yu Dan's chicken soup).

Besides, Confucianism is just one ingredient in the eclectic mix characteristic of today's China. Many features of the country's society and political system can be described without any reference to Confucianism, and some would have the Master writhing in his tomb. You can discern elements of Leninism, capitalism, Taoism, Western consumer society, socialism, the imperial tradition of Legalism - and more.

It's precisely the mix that defines the Chinese model, which is anyway not yet fully formed. After all, China is still a developing country in every sense. Meanwhile, if we must seek a single label, then a better candidate would be Confectionism. The secret is in the confection.

It follows that it's a great mistake to conceive of a political and intellectual conversation with China as a "dialogue between civilizations." In this conception, Westerners put on the table what we call "Western values," the Chinese put on the table what they call "Chinese values," and then we see which pieces match.

Stuff and nonsense. There is no such thing as a pure, unadulterated, separate Western civilization or Chinese civilization. We have all been mixing up for centuries, and especially over the past two. There's more of the West in the East and of the East in the West than most people imagine. Moreover, even 2,500 years ago, when China and Europe really were worlds apart, Confucius was addressing some of the same issues as Plato and Sophocles, because these issues are universal.

So, the interesting way for Westerners to engage with Confucianism is quite different. This way starts from a simple proposition: Here was a great thinker who still has things to teach us. Rich schools of scholastic interpretation over more than two millennia not only reinterpreted Confucius but added new thoughts of their own. We should read him and them as we read Plato, Jesus, the Buddha, Darwin and their interpreters. This is not a dialogue between civilizations but a dialogue inside civilization.

For this conversation, most of us must depend on translators. In Beijing, I have been rereading Simon Leys's translation of The Analects of Confucius, with its notes full of vigorous cross-reference to Western writers. Of course, some passages are obscure or anachronistic. But many of the sayings attributed to Confucius breathe a remarkably fresh secular humanism.

I prefer his cautious formulation of the golden rule of reciprocity - "What you do not wish for yourself, do not impose upon others" - to the Christian one. What should government do? "Make the local people happy and attract migrants from afar." How should we best serve our political leader? "Tell him the truth, even if it offends him." Best of all: "One may rob an army of its commander-in-chief; one cannot deprive the humblest man of his free will."

If these are familiar thoughts in an unfamiliar place, there are also very distinctive emphases, such as that on a kind of extended family responsibility to generations both past and to come. Not such a bad idea, at a time when we are ravaging the planet that our grandparents left us.

Earlier this year, one of Britain's education officials reaped some mild satire for suggesting that his country's schoolchildren could benefit from studying Confucius. But couldn't we all? We would not merely learn something about the Chinese. We might even learn something about ourselves.

Timothy Garton Ash is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and professor of European studies at Oxford University.

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