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Tsoi Dug Blog 才德博客 » Blog Archive » Modernization Needs Culture 现代化需要文化

Modernization Needs Culture 现代化需要文化

I visited Paris and Madrid recently, and after a few museums and historical buildings it looks to me like medieval European culture by the 1100’s was every bit as advanced as Chinese culture of the time if not more advanced! We’ve all been misled by those mistaken comparisons of the primitive castles of the Medieval kings with the grandiose imperial palaces of China of the same era, and come to the erroneous conclusion that culturally the Europeans have been far behind China until the 1700’s. Not so: the grandeur of Medieval Europe is not to be found in the kings’ abodes, but in the cathedrals and religious monuments. The proper comparison should be made between say, the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, which was at the time “the parish church of Europe’s kings”, and the contemporaneous Song Dynasty imperial palace of the 1100’s. The Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral wins in terms of technology: it’s far taller, and it’s got all those huge, gorgeous stained glass windows!

最近去了巴黎和马德里,看了好几处博物馆和文物建筑,发现到了1100年左右,中世纪的欧洲文化已经跟当时的中国看齐,还可能有过之无不及!不适当的比较误导了我们,把中世纪欧洲国王们原始的城堡跟同时代中国皇帝们的威煌宫殿比较,得到了错误的结论,以为欧洲文化比中国落后很多,一直到了1700年代才追上。其实,中世纪欧洲的辉煌并不在国王的住所,而是在大教堂和宗教建筑物。适当的是,以当时是“欧洲各国国王的御用教堂”即巴黎圣母大教堂,跟同时代即1160年代的宋朝皇宫比较。巴黎圣母大教堂则胜于科技:教堂高度高很多,又有那么多巨大华丽的彩色玻璃窗!

Sigh! So many “China scholars” tell us that Europeans had no culture; they just somehow came into possession of some better ships and some guns some time starting around the 1500’s, and then they conquered the world on that! Not true at all! No, they had a lot more, they had a deep, high culture based on Christianity, just like China used to have a deep, high culture based on Confucianism. The West hasn’t just been advanced for a couple of hundred years; they have been advanced for 1,000 years! The West’s modernity is deeply based on advanced cultural traditions that stretch back 1,000 years.

唉!很多“中国学专家”告诉我们,欧洲人是没有文化的,不过是1500年代开始,不知怎样的,拿到了比人家好的船只和几枝火枪,就征服世界了!但完全不是这样啊!他们还有很多其他的东西,他们有深厚的、高级的、基于基督教的文化,正如中国以前曾经有深厚的、高级的、基于孔教的文化一样。西方不是先进了仅仅那两百多年,他们先进了一千年了!西方的现代化,是深深地基于一套长达一千年的先进文化传统的。

So this proves to me that the thinking that China can disregard and even throw away all that high culture we’ve had for a couple of thousand years back and just somehow modernize, is wrong. The West has built its modernization upon a foundation of a thousand years of Western high culture; can China build its modernization without the foundation of past Chinese high culture? No, for China to modernize, China needs to come to terms with and embrace its past high culture, then add to it where it’s deficient and build on it where it’s advanced or even superior.

对我来说,这证明了现在以为中国可以不理会、甚至可以抛弃所有自己曾经拥有过几千年的高文化,也仍然能现代化起来的思想,是错误的。西方的现代化是在自己一千年文化的基础上建筑起来的,中国可以不在自己几千年的文化基础上建筑现代化吗?不可以的。中国要现代化,就一定要包容和接纳自己过去的文化,然后有缺陷的地方就填补,有先进或甚至优越的地方就加强。

Feng Xin-ming 冯欣明


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2 Responses to “Modernization Needs Culture 现代化需要文化

  1. Young, proud ABC Says:

    Yeah! The West has a very high culture of which it is still very, very proud. They respect those cathedrals so much and keep them in such good condition. In China, on the other hand, people go to Tian Tan and stomp around and yell, like it’s some sort of amusement park. Tian Tan is a holy temple! You wouldn’t see people going into the Sistine Chapel, yelling and horsing around.

    Chinese people (both in China and abroad) need to pick back up the rich Chinese culture and history they’ve so ashamedly cast aside. Only in pride of their past can they face the present and future with pride.

  2. admin Says:

    Thank you for your insightful comment! Happily, I think Chinese people are more and more starting to pick up the rich Chinese culture - the wild popularity of Professor Yu Dan’s book on Confucius’ Lun Yu (Analects of Confucius) is an example.

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