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Beijing Forum 2009: Nov 6 Panel Session on Culture

NOV . 10 2009

Diaoyutai State Guest House, Beijing, Nov. 6, 2009: Scholars from both eastern and western countries were convened together and gave their understanding and ideas on the topic of “Eastern Wisdom as Resource in Solving the Global Crisis”. The session was divided into two parts: “Distinct Expressions of the Crisis and Their Characteristics in Different Cultures” and “The Teachings of Lao Zi, Confucius and Sun Zi”. All the speakers gave their lectures in Chinese.


The recent economic crisis has attracted scholars’ attentions from a wide range of disciplines.  Prof. Cheng Chung-Ying from University of Hawaii pointed out that how a culture realizes the coordinated development between self-saving and external communication with other cultures becomes a core problem. He divided the current crisis into three categories: ecological crisis, economic crisis, and ethical crisis, which are also called three “e” crises. Through analyzing their different functions in human society, he figured out that the Chinese traditional Confucianism may be useful in realizing the fundamental value correctly.


Prof. Tanaka Issei from the University of Tokyo gave a lecture named “The Significance of the Thought of Resurrection behind Primitive Sacrificial Ceremony in the Face of Today’s Crisis”. Through a large number of pictures and videos on the primitive sacrificial ceremonies in Hong Kong and Jiangxi Province, he explained to us that this kind of form may be a way for the government to resume productivity during the crisis period.


In the lecture “Some Reflections on the Concept of “Eastern Wisdom and Its Utilization”, Prof. Isabelle Rabut from Institut Nnational des Langues et Civilisations Orientales raised some questions related to the concept of “Eastern/ Oriental wisdom” from a cultural and common sense perspective. These questions contained as follows: the precise definition of “eastern wisdom”, the cultures’ certain values and standards of behavior, and the new appraisal of “eastern wisdom”. In the end, she pointed out that wisdom should not be turned into another field of competition in a context of acute competition in economy, military power or even sport.


Prof. Yang Huilin from Renmin University of China gave his lecture “A Case Study of Tao and Word in James Legge and T.S. Eliot”. By a typical case of James Legge’s translation of Tao in “Tao Te Ching” which is also further approved by T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Rock”, he stressed that language makes us different from one another, but it is also the inter-act of languages that makes it possible for us to enrich our own language and our mutual-understanding.


Subsequently, Prof. Chang Hsin-Kang, former President of City University of Hong Kong told a story about two cities: Pittsburgh and Shenyang. He recalled the changes in Pittsburgh from early 19th century to today and also the development of Shenyang since 1972. From the experiences of these two cities, he pointed out that the wisdom to defuse the crises belongs to all human beings.


After the coffee break, Prof. Chen Guy-Ying gave the lecture “The Inspiration of Lao Zi’s Wisdom to Modern Cultural Crisis”. By explaining the three means of Lao Zi’s “Tao”, he pointed out that the ways to defuse the current crisis are to pay more attention to our earth and world, rebuild the international order, and enhance the understanding. Specially, he stressed the contemporary meaning of Lao Zi’s “Rou” in the current time.


Then, Prof. Carine Defoort from Catholic University of Louvain talked about the interpretations of Confucius’ correct naming. She pointed out that the idea of “correct naming” is presented as a core concept by scholars in the field of political and social sciences so that she figured out the important historical position of Hu Shi in the formation of this dominant view.


In his lecture “Confucius’ Wisdom: Its “The Golden Mean” and “The Harmony””, Prof. Sun Qinshan from Peking University pointed out that “The Golden Mean” has the meaning of flexibility, and “The Harmony” is connected with dialectical thinking.


Prof. Zhang Wenru, also from Peking University, talked about “Master Sun’s Art of War”. In his lecture, he proposed four ways to reduce the loss when facing the crisis, including crisis sense, correct judgment, risk decision-making, and crisis management.


After the excellent lectures, these scholars answered the attendants’ questions patiently and carried out heated discussions. Finally, some of the participants expressed that the 2009 Beijing Forum was a good opportunity for them to exchange ideas on how to overcome this global economic crisis and to make our world better.



Edited by: Cai Ying