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« Nanluoguxiang and 30 years of China | Main | Book News: The Sinica Podcast »

November 08, 2013


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Just as high speed rail inspired your thoughts about mobility, isn't it also self-evident (from your online post) that a new type of connectivity is on the rise? No longer dependent on physical proximity, people stay connected on platforms that have replaced the social networks of hutongs and villages. Yes it is different.. but new tribes are building real connections online. Let's see how Confucian principles evolve on mobile devices in China before indulging in too much hand wringing.

Mobile devices let you talk... to people you want to talk to, but 義 and 孝 often require doing things you don't want to do...

I am much more optimistic that China will be able to handle the problems associated with modernity. What is being Chinese? It is more than just being Confucian. The internet and high speed train binds China much tighter than the centrifugal force of Capitalism and individualism would split her. The problems of pollution, income mal-distribution, as are social duties and filial pieties are all discussed on Weibo. The Communist Party will have started the third plenum meeting tomorrow. The agenda for more reforms will become clearer soon.

One noticeable feature of CCP ideological renewal is emphasis on the relation between man and nature, which I think goes to the root of what modernity means and how its development might be guided by an alternative. The idea of mobility, if viewed expansively, indeed include the mobility of relationship. But under assumption of western modernity, it may very well be a concept that goes beyond its limit. Hence, we might say that in the context of Confucianism under (western models of) modernity, Tang Junyi's ontological unity/pluralism (yi duo bu fen guan) has a certain foresight to it - by putting dynamism with a limit of the unity-connectedness. Yet it is a metaphysics distinct from Kantian dualism between value and facts. Nature, and human nature, are one in their relation without a transcendent supervening power. Given this, then I wouldn't say the increasing mobility of "Chinese society" if by "Chinese" we mean its wisdom culture.

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