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« Filiality and Loss in Nebraska | Main | Universal Culture »

March 10, 2014

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The Confucian version is identical to the Jewish version enunciated by Rabbi Hillel who died in approximately 7 CE.

His 2 most famous teaching are: (1) If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am for myself alone, what then am 'I'? And if not now, then when?"

and (2) the expression of the ethic of reciprocity, or "Golden Rule": "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn

Simply put, the "do unto others," in my mind, opens the Way to imposing our own good on others in often unfortunate ways, and I don't see Chinese wisdom inviting that same misfortune. The missionary impulse to "save" the Chinese from the Ming forward is the best and most obvious example of this, to me. Christians "know" that salvation is "good" and damnation is "bad," so they do "good" to non-Christians by imposing their own. Very non-wuwei. And historically, the results were tragically, horribly destructive in so many ways.

Zhuangzi's parable of the Kings of the North and South wanting to reward the kindness of the King of the Middle--who had no openings in his head, as the other two kings did--by "doing good" and drilling those holes in his head seems to reinforce the Negative Golden Rule. The King of the Middle died as a result of these do-gooders' action. It presages (pun?) the arrival, and worst effects of, Christian missionaries in China 18 centuries later.

I hate to sound so judgmental, but history seems to show this so clearly. We could also contrast the Chinese v. European treatment toward the Indian Ocean cultures in the Zheng He voyages and those of Da Gama 80 years later.

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