Thursday, January 04, 2007

Chaoter I Point II:
It would be a mistake for modern Chinese thinkers to lump together the feudal political system prevalent throughout Chinese history with a closed ideological system. In comparison to recent western philosophy, traditional Chinese thought has had a huge political influence in its development. Chinese political leaders, however, have also been influenced by outside constraints such as economic as well as ideological factors. It would seem incumbent upon modern Chinese thinkers to develop a universal system of thought applicable across cultural divides instead of dwelling on particular problems in their cultural past. That is to say, if Chinese philosophy is to make an impact on the world today and in the future, it must find a way to use its own rich past to make its contribution to the development of human culture instead of dwelling on its differences with other traditions. Insisting on its own set of particular problems would keep Chinese thought mired in its own quagmire, which in this day and age is a dangerous proposition. There is also no need to do so, as there is an apparent openness to Chinese thought that could blend well with other traditions. It is thus easy to see that the differences in philosophical development in China and the west was not due to whether or not the ideological systems were open, but rather on the emphasis that was placed on maintaining an openness. In the western tradition, the stress on reason and humanity had its basis in the recognition of universal laws obtainable through a scientific method. In order to extract the open nature of Chinese thought, it thus becomes important to look at the texts with this same sort of critical spirit. We need to take a closer look at the problems that were being addressed in the Dao De Jing and how they have contributed to the development of Chinese thought. The emphasis on the unlimited and the openness that that implies has been an impetus through the ages to Chinese thought in general, despite outward political constraints. The spirit that this profound book contains thus could be a reflective point for Chinese thinkers today in an attempt to amalgamate their tradition with those of the western and other worlds.


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