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Book Reviews – On Chinese Culture

Book Reviews - On Chinese Culture

This book is divided into three main parts: an introduction to theories of culture, a section on Chinese culture, and one on cultural construction. The first part can be interpreted as an attempt to explore the meta-theoretical system of culture at the philosophical level. Based on the concept of “culture as ways of living,” the book further defines “culture” as “the preparation of people,” including the processes by which people adapt to local cultural and social customs.  It stresses the subjectivity of culture, and the cultural rights and responsibilities of humankind. The second part takes on the subjective perspective of contemporary Chinese culture, interpreting it within the context of the historical situation of the Chinese people and nation, before engaging in a systematic reflection on several fundamental issues of Chinese culture. It closes by evaluating Chinese cultural practices and formulating a type of contemporary cultural self-identity. The book’s third part focuses on the interconnection between the revival of the Chinese nation and the modernization of Chinese society, analyzing the conditions and challenges for the three primary types of contemporary Chinese culture: material culture, political culture and spiritual culture. Lastly, the book puts forward suggestions concerning several of the critical problems facing a society in transition.

1 Introduction: The Homeland of Culture and Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1.1 The Living Situation of Contemporary Man and His Cultural Reflection . . 1
1.1.1 Dire Environment Crisis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.1.2 The Danger of Being Materialized . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.1.3 An Upcoming Postmodern Lifestyle Led by Symbol Consumption . . . 3
1.2 China and the World, Facing Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.2.1 A Macro-Culture Vision in a Brand-New Age . . . . . . . 8
Part I Introduction to Culture
2 Culture as Humanization . . . . . . . . . . . .  . 15
2.1 Culture and Non-culture (Nature) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
2.2 From Humanization to Civilization . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
2.2.1 The Humanization of Man as a Natural Being . . . . . . . 19
2.2.2 The Completion of Man’s Socialization. . . . . . . . . . . . 21
2.2.3 The Spiritual Homeland Created by Man. . . . . . . . . . . 23
2.3 Life Is a Two-Way Trip . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 25
2.4 Text for Cultural Interpretation. . . . . . . . . . .. . 27
3 Basic Patterns of Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . 31
3.1 Material Culture: Wares and Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . 31
3.2 Spiritual Culture: Cognition, Emotion, and Will . . . . . . . . 36
3.3 Institutional Culture: The Structure and Rules of Rights . . . 39
4 Pluralism Versus Monism in Cultural Pattern . . . . . . . . . . . .. 43
4.1 Subject: Proof for Cultural Pluralism. . . . . . . .. . . 43
4.2 National Culture: A Diversity in Unity . . . . . . . . . .. . . 46
4.3 Mainstream Culture and Subculture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
4.4 The Pluralistic Landscape of World Culture. . . . . . .. . . . . 53
4.5 Mythologies and Realities of Cultural Convergence . . . . . . 56
5 Cultural Qualities: What Is Good and What Is Bad?. . . . . . . . . . . 61
5.1 Bewilderment Around the War Between High Culture and Low Culture . . . 61
5.2 Repositioning: How Culture Is Produced and Consumed . . . . . . 64
5.3 Intelligentsia and Spiritual Production . . . . . . . . . . 67
5.4 Cultural Oasis and Cultural Desert . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
6 Rise and Fall of Cultural Destiny . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
6.1 The Space, Time, and Vitality of Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
6.2 Cultural Evolution and Retrogression . . . . . . . . . . . .  . 82
6.3 Tradition: Life Pattern of National Culture . . . . . . . . . 86
6.4 Benchmarks of Cultural Destiny. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
6.4.1 The Law of Cultural Accumulation and Progressive Achievement . . .92
6.4.2 Cultural Subjectivity and the Principle of Selection. . . . 93
Part II Chinese Culture
7 Value Orientations of Chinese Traditional Culture . 97
7.1 The Positioning of “Man” . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
7.1.1 Deity, Heaven, and Man: “Respect to Heaven and Reverence to Destiny”?. . 97
7.1.2 Others and Self: “Forget the Individual in the Interest of the Group”?. 100
7.1.3 Personality, Family, and Self: “Self-cultivation, Family Harmony, State Governance, and World Peace”? 104
7.1.4 “Official Standard”: The Negation of Oneself. . . . . . . . 107
7.2 Righteousness and Profits, and Name and Reality. . . . .  109
7.2.1 “The Debate on Righteousness and Profit”: Righteousness Outweighing Profit? 110
7.2.2 “The Debate on Principle and Desire”: Men Are Born Evil? 113
7.2.3 “Debate on Name and Reality”: To Prove the Name with Reality? 116
7.3 Affection, Reasonability, and the Law. . . . . . . . . . . . 118
7.3.1 “Human Relationship Circle” and “Connection Network” . . . 119
7.3.2 From “Rule of Rites” to “Rule of Law” . . . . . . . . . . . 122
8 Multiple Characters of Chinese Traditional Culture . . . . . . . 127
8.1 Way and Implements: Pursuit of the State of Life . . . . .  . 127
8.1.1 Sacrifice for the Truth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
8.2 Body and Function: Exploration into the Cultural Roots . . . . . . 131
8.3 Knowledge and Behavior: Orientation for Thinking Mode. . . . . 136
8.4 Yin-Yang, Masculinity–Femininity: Losses and Gains of Cultural Ethos 142
9 Overall Criticisms on Chinese Traditional Culture. . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
9.1 Features and Tendencies of Chinese Traditional Culture . . . . . . 149
9.1.1 The Sea Admits Hundreds of Rivers for its Capacity to Hold . . 150
9.1.2 Moral Complex of “Subduing Oneself and Returning to Propriety” 153
9.2 Historical Reflection on Traditional Cultural Spirit . . . . 157
9.2.1 Science: All but a “Spirit”. . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
9.2.2 Morality: Who “Devolves One’s Own Thought to Others”? . . 161
9.2.3 Faith and Religion: Why “Make a Hasty Last-Minute Effort”?. . . 165
9.3 Several Attitudes Toward Traditional Culture. . . . . . . . 170
9.3.1 Conservatism and Nihilism: Two Extremes . . . . . . 170
9.3.2 Essence and Dross: Tradition is not a “Rotten Apple” . . . 174
9.3.3 Dualism: An Easily Ignored Misunderstanding . . . . . . . 179
Part III New Culture Construction
10 Cultural Transformation: Challenges and Outlets . . . . . . 185
10.1 Ideological Course of China’s Modernization. . . . . 185
10.1.1 Pioneers’ Dreams and Historical Enlightenment . . . . . . 185
10.1.2 The Cultural Implication of Modernization . . . . . . . . . 188
10.1.3 Modernization and Chinese Characteristics . . . . . . . . . 190
10.2 Predicament from the Impact of Marketization . . . . . . . . . 192
10.2.1 The Lopsided Development of Consumer Culture. . . . . 192
10.2.2 Deficiency of Innovative Cultural Mechanisms. . . . . . . 195
10.3 The Three Cultural Orientations of Cultural Development . . . . . 199
10.3.1 The “Outward-Looking” “Westernization Theory” . . . . 199
10.3.2 The “Backward-Looking” “Tradition Theory” . . . . . . . 202
10.3.3 The “Forward-Looking” “Creation Theory” . . . . . . . . . 205
11 Prosperity: The Modernization of Material Culture . . . . . . . 209
11.1 Value Bases of Market Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
11.1.1 Economic Transformation and Cultural Transformation . . 210
11.1.2 The Exploration of Chinese Mode of Development. . . . 212
11.1.3 The “People-Oriented” Development Philosophy . . . . . 213
11.2 The Knowledge-Based Economy and Cultural Industries . . . . . . 216
11.2.1 High-Technology and Future Material Civilization . . . . 216
11.2.2 The Advent of the Era of Knowledge Economy . . . . . . 218
11.2.3 The Rise of Cultural Industries and Its Significance . . 220
11.3 Ecological Civilization: Harmony Between Man and Nature . . . 225
12 Democracy: The Modernization of Institutional Culture. . . . . . . . . 229
12.1 Human Rights: People-Oriented Core Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
12.2 Democracy: The Essence of Institutional Civilization . . . . . . . . 232
12.3 The Rule of Law: Indispensable for People’s Democracy . . . . . 237
13 Civilization: The Modernization of Spiritual Culture . . . . . . . . . . . 245
13.1 Values Revolution and Reconstruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245
13.1.1 Values Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245
13.1.2 Orientation to Diversification and Adherence to Subjectivity 251
13.2 Science and Education: Serving Human Values . . . . . . . . . . . . 255
13.2.1 Science and Education—The Path to the Revitalization of the Country 255
13.2.2 From Instrumentalization to Humanization. . . . . . . . . . 259
13.2.3 The Contemporary Value of Science. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 264
13.2.4 Regression to the Essence of Education. . . . . . . . . . . . 268
13.3 Morality: From Emotion to the Rationality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 271
13.3.1 Declines and Climbs: Trigger to New Thinking . . . . . . 272
13.3.2 Dislocation and Homing: Foundation of Moral Values 274
13.3.3 Ideal and the Reality: Levels of Moral Construction . 280
Part IV Conclusion
14 Conclusion: Chinese Culture Facing the New Century . . . . . . . . . . 287
14.1 The Publicity of the Spiritual Homeland of the Chinese Nation . . . . . 287
14.2 The Common Faith of the Whole Nation Is Fundamental to Our Spiritual Homeland 289
14.3 Future-Oriented Chinese Culture Must Be Built on the Basis of Scientific Rationality 290
14.4 The Construction Subjects of Chinese Culture Are All the Chinese People 292
14.5 The Reconstruction of Chinese Culture Will Promote the Common Progress of Human Civilization 296

Book Reviews – On Chinese Culture


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