Twofish's Blog

July 30, 2006

How I view the world…..

Filed under: academia, china, confucianism — twofish @ 10:21 am

Everyone has a personal philosophy which is based on all sorts of influences.  It turns out that a great deal of how I view the world is derived from Dai Zhen and the Evidential School but there are some huge differences.   Just to name a few

1) Gender relations.  I happen to believe that women can and should join the “academic priesthood” and that genealogy should be equal across both male and female lines.  Both beliefs have some pretty huge implications.

2) A concern about power and social relations.  There is an edge and an anger in my philosophy that isn’t in Dai Zhen.  A great deal of this (and this is where thinking about my alter ego Professor W has come in useful) is that most of the evidential school thinkers near the top of the social class structure, whereas I’ve always felt nearer to the bottom.  As a result, a lot of my ideas are influenced by Marxist critical theory.

3) The rituals I use are Buddhist.  The Evidential school members were vehementally anti-Buddhist, and would be shocked that most of the rituals that I use are Buddhist (because my wife is Buddhist).

4) The interaction between nationalism and universalism.  I live in a world of nation-states, whereas Dai Zhen did not.  Part of my concern with the Boston Confucians is that they seem to want to create a universalist version of Confucianism, and that concerns me, since it seems to pretend that nation-states and state bureaucracies don’t exist/don’t matter when in fact they do.  A great deal of my interest in Confucianism is to use it in order to “renew the Chinese nation” and that involves playing up the “Chinese” aspects of Confucianism.

The analogy that I’d like to make is that suppose I wanted to invoke a historical hero to change Mexico politics.  I’d could invoke the memory of Benito Juarez.  Now suppose I want to make similar changes to American politics, it wouldn’t make any sense for me to talk about Benito Juarez, since Juarez isn’t perceived as part of the American collective history.  I’d talk about George Washington or Alexander Hamiliton.

Similarly, Confucius has a special role in Chinese political discourse.  In talking about Chinese politics, I could invoke Juarez, but I’d get strange looks.  So I’m a bit concerned, when Confucius is “de-sinicized” and disconnected from the Chinese nationalist program.

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