Whither China? Time for Cultural Rejuvenation

Hsieh Shanyuan (謝善元) , Freelance writer and translator

Talk given in English:

China's "No.2 World Economy" status has produced both admirations and concerns in the world. The concerns are intensified when Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife were prevented from going to Norway to accept the award.  Some people are tempted to cite Samuel Huntington's theory of civilizational conflicts to explain this incident.  But a history-conscious person would probably characterize it more as an evidence of China's failture to fulfil the aspirations of her intellectuals of the early 20th century. They embraced science and democracy as the surest ways of saving China and totally abandoned their cultural heritage.  A review of the history of these ideas and that of Chinese culture indicates that, while their insight is laudable,  their understanding of tradition is inadequate.  There are indeed elements in Chinese culture which are compatible with the requirements of both science and democracy.  By reorganizing the core teachings of both Confucius and Mencius and by supplementing them with valuable ideas from other schools of thought, one can form a synthesis which, if adopted by the Chinese people, would hopefully guide China's future policies.  And a culturally rejuvenated China could probably convince the whole world that her rise would indeed be peaceful.

Dr. Hsieh Shan-yuan received his Ph.D. in Far Eastern Languages and Civilizations from University of Chicago. He has taught classical Chinese philosophy in various universities, including University of Toronto and University of Denver. Currently, he is a freelance writer and translator. His publications range from academic monographs to Chinese translations of Western classics.

Saturday, April 02, 2011 | 2:30 pm — 4:00 pm
Graduate Community Center - Nairobi Room, 750 Escondido Road

Stanford ChinaRains