Posts Tagged ‘worldview’

Mistaken Worldview, Mistaken Portrayal of Reality

Monday, October 29th, 2007

“The New Marriage Life (新結婚生活),” a Chinese soap opera series recently shown on Chinese TV KTFS Bay Area is really sinister in its concluding episode: the hero, a very successful college graduate and executive who throughout the series shows a lot of compassion for his peasant older brother and goes to great lengths to help him, actually only does so because of feeling guilty about having cheated the older brother out of going to college so that the hero has been able to! And the soap opera shows this dishonest man, who has flagrantly violated all morality and ethics, is absolutely forgiven in the show and enjoined not to tell the older brother, just to keep helping him. Alas, where is uprightness? Where is integrity? The whole cheating of one’s older brother out of his due is portrayed as being natural and expected – after all, when faced with the choice of either vicious, deliberate cheating of family or not going to college and thus staying a peasant, isn’t one supposed to choose the former? Isn’t life all against one and one against all? Isn’t it the law of the jungle, even when it comes to family? Oh woe! Oh what a terrible worldview!

Yes, when you expect others to be immoral, you then can act immorally yourself, since you are just protecting yourself and at worse you are just doing unto them what they would do unto you anyway. This worldview, this portrayal of reality is most pernicious. In fact of course, it is a mistaken worldview and a mis-portrayal of reality because, as we have pointed out in previous blogs (e.g. April 2, 2007), life is actually based on mutual help. Human society is based on mutual kindness, and is the diametrical opposite of the dog-eat-dog world.

Feng Xin-ming


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The True Chinese Worldview is a Bright and Sunny One

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Due to a number of reasons, for a lot of Chinese people, not just ones born here in North America, the very term authentic Chinese culture conjures up a gloomy worldview of a cruel, nasty world around us and distrust of that world. True, there are a few folk sayings that preach suspicion of others. Here’s one: honest people will end up being beggars (忠忠直直,終須乞食). A widely known tract of folk sayings, “Accumulating Wide Wisdom” or 增廣賢文 zeng guang xian wen, offers this one: do not believe in the honesty behind honesty, one must be on guard against kindness not being kindness (莫信直中直,須防仁不仁). It’s a dog eat dog world out there, according to these sayings that pretend to be, oh, so worldly wise. And nowadays, when it has become popular to denigrate what has been traditional Chinese, such cynicism has been taken to represent mainstream Chinese culture. Alas! Alack! That worldview cannot be more wrong!

Yes, it’s time to talk about worldview. Just like in any other culture, in Chinese culture there are a few mistaken, cynical, worldly wise folk sayings handed down from the days of old, but Confucius has never endorsed such ideas, nor have they been the mainstream in traditional Chinese culture. There are a lot more folk sayings that are correct, that reflect the correct, mainstream traditional Chinese culture of Confucianism.

The true Confucius’ worldview is a bright and sunny one, a kind and secure one. As the ubiquitous Confucian primer in traditional Chinese society, “The Three Character Classic” or 三字經 san zi jing, says so optimistically in its opening sentence, “People’s nature is good to begin with (人之初,性本善).” Under the traditional Chinese, Confucian order, everyone enjoys the benefits and obligations due him or her from the Five Cardinal Relations, and if we add the Cardinal Relation between buyer and seller as proposed by me, then everyone has all kinds of people doing all kinds of good for him or her. There is no need to be insecure or afraid, and there is no cause to be cynical or suspicious.

Feng Xin-ming


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Xiao` (孝), or Being Good to Parents and Ancestors

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

In Traditional China, 孝 xiao`, or being good to parents and ancestors, is considered the foundation of civil society and the guarantee of moral behavior. (See Xiao Jing, “The Classic of Xiao.”) The idea is that when one is brought up being good to one’s parents and ancestors one will be conditioned to be good & respectful to all the other people that one deals with outside the family. Also, one will diligently fulfill the duties pertaining to one’s station in life, so that one will make one’s parents and ancestors look good, and so that one will maintain the means to support one’s parents and make offerings to one’s ancestors. Thus, the Emperor or Son of Heaven will rule well and be kind and respectful to his subjects, because he has been conditioned that way by xiao and because he wants to bring glory to his ancestors by winning praise from his subjects. Likewise, the Dukes, the Ministers, the Officers, and the Common People, i.e. all the classes of people in society, will also diligently fulfill their duties and be good and respectful to all people they deal with. Thus great order reins, and moral conduct is guaranteed.

Unlike most traditional societies, Traditional China has basically been a secular society. Organized religion has not been the dominant force in Traditional China. At the foundation of morality is not divine commandment but secular xiao`, taught by the secular philosophy of Confucianism. In order to understand the Traditional Chinese worldview, it is essential to understand xiao`.

Feng Xin-ming


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