Responds to Dr. Patrick Ho
Feb. 4—This is a very exciting perspective, but I would actually like to propose, Patrick, that we organize a big event, maybe an international conference, because I think that the knowledge about Chinese culture, but also about Western culture, is really not known to the other culture.
For example, I was in China once, and I was looking for scholars on Nicholas of Cusa, who was the most important scholar and great mind of the 15th Century in Europe. But I only found one professor who was familiar with Nicholas of Cusa. And this is typical, because what you said about the difference between Western values and Chinese values—I think that many times people mistake humanism for liberalism, because of the British influence in the universities all over the world, but also, I think, this has been the case in China for some time. And that is really not true.
We are not talking about the Aristotelian tradition. We are not talking about certain traditions in Europe which then led to certain forms of the Enlightenment—the French Enlightenment and the English Enlightenment—which, as you correctly said, are centered very much on the role of the individual and liberalism.
But that is exactly the tradition which was rejected by what we regard as the positive tradition of the pre-Socratics, Plato, Augustine, Cusa, Kepler, Leibniz, and Schiller.
In science, this tradition includes Riemann, Einstein, and similar thinkers. So there is a much bigger fight in the tradition of European civilization than most people really know. And the entire progress of Classical science and culture comes from the rejection of liberalist tradition. The oligarchy has consciously employed warfare against this tradition, to try to drive people away from the idea of human creativity.
For example, I and other members of the Schiller Institute compared the ideas of Confucius and Mencius with certain ideas and philosophers of the West, and there is a much greater unity. For example, this Nicholas of Cusa whom I mentioned, has conceptions which absolutely correspond to the Li and the concept of Ren in Confucius. He has this idea—if Li is “to do the right thing in the right place at the right time” [as Dr. Ho had earlier mentioned]—Nicholas of Cusa has this idea that each microcosm, each human being, can only fully develop if you contribute to the harmony of the macrocosm by developing all the other microcosms and vice-versa.
That is exactly the “win-win cooperation” among human beings. This is the idea which went into the Peace of Westphalia: the idea that peace is only possible if you respect the interests of the other.
As for Leibniz, Leibniz was so responsive to Chinese philosophy because he himself was a continuation of the thought of Nicholas of Cusa, and he had the idea that each human being is a monad, each human being contains in his own creative mind the entirety of the universe, and concordance is only possible if there is a harmonious development of all of these faculties.
This is what led into the Declaration of Independence and its “pursuit of happiness,” which is not “happiness” from the standpoint of luck, but it is exactly the fulfillment, the development of all potentialities which are embedded in the human being. So this is embedded in the human being.
This tradition in European philosophy which we call humanism, is totally opposed to liberalism, and it is much, much more in cohesion with Confucianism than is generally recognized.
The problem with Western books and Western university teaching, is that it has been occupied for a very long time by the people who won the wars, by the oligarchy, by the people who try to suppress this creativity in the population. And I think we would do the next, second Renaissance a very big favor, if we were to organize a symposium to work out these parallels much, much more. And I think this is actually crucial for the understanding of the people from the different cultures.
Nicholas of Cusa said, the only reason that people from different cultures can understand one another, is because they each produce scientists and artists who develop universal principles—and once you have an understanding of these universal principles, you can communicate.
This is why musicians of different nations can be in one orchestra, or why scientists come to the same conclusions about scientific discovery, exactly as you developed with the binary system. I think that there are many more treasures to be found both for the West and to learn from China, as well as for the Chinese people to understand, not about the liberal teaching of history and philosophy of ideas, but to really go to the original sources as they were, and as they were drivers of focus in the West. So, I’m very excited and I hope you can organize something along these lines.