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Chinese culture has rare multi-gene nature

Author  :  Peng Qingsheng     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2016-01-26

    Outline of Chinese Cultural History 

Author: Zhou Siyuan

Publisher: The Straits Publishing and Distributing Group

The inspiring and forward-thinking Outline of Chinese Cultural History thoroughly combs through the formation and development path of the Chinese nation and culture to summarize the basic features—primordial, subjective, complete, peace-loving and independent.

The book includes both the historical and modern progress of the nation, revealing a wholesome picture. On the one hand, it argues for the historical inevitability of the development of Chinese culture without interruption for thousands of years.

On the other hand, it sharply points out the weaknesses of Chinese culture. First, it tends to worship great thinkers in an absolute manner, causing an overemphasis on inheritance rather than innovation. Second, it promotes the golden mean philosophy, whereas competition and excellence are neglected, thus resulting in a lack of vitality. Next, it does not place much value on the rights and capability of individuals as well as the spirit of perseverance. Finally, it leans toward concentrated inspirations and sentiments but lacks persistent and rigorous logic.

On the basis of analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of Chinese culture, the book boldly discusses its scientific path in the new century and proposes to construct a new advanced cultural system.

First, it fully affirms the great achievements of the New Culture Movement, regarding it as the “one of the most important turning points in the 5,000-year development of Chinese culture,” because it activated the “excellent genes” of Chinese traditional culture and absorbed advanced Western culture characterized by democracy and science, forming a new Chinese cultural tradition.

Second, it surveys the theoretical and practical explorations made in China since the reform and opening up, putting forward a strategic blueprint for Chinese cultural development in the 21st century. This refers to a process occurring under the guidance of the sincization of Marxism, which modernizes traditional culture and localizes foreign culture, integrating them into a new Chinese culture.

The book provides some insightful perspectives, in contrast to popular views. For example, some scholars highly praised the prosperity during the reigns of Qing emperor Kang Xi, Yong Zheng and Qian Long. However, the author points out that the extreme feudal autocracy represented by the harsh literary inquisition carried out at that time killed the vitality and nationalism of the Chinese people. As a result, common people, especially the elite intellectual class, slipped into silence, setting the stage for China’s defeat in the Opium Wars.

Meantime, the book reminds us that when the craze for Chinese culture emanates around the world, we should have a clear and objective understanding of China’s cultural strength and that Chinese culture may find it hard to take the lead in world culture in the 21st century based on the current economic foundation and comprehensive national power. However, we will hold an indispensable place in the multicultural globe.

Editor: Ma Yuhong

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