文明冲突(civilization conflict/ Huntington defines eight major civilizations: (1) Western - which includes Western Europe and North America; (2) Slavic-Orthodox; (3) Islamic - which includes three subdivisions: Arab, Turkic and Malay; (4) Latin American; (5) Hindu; (6) Confucian; (7) Japanese; and (8) African.
Huntington says that "The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future." He continues, "Over the centuries ... differences among civilizations have generated the most prolonged and the most violent conflict"  - more so even than ideological conflict. The reason? - because differences between civilizations "... are far more fundamental than differences among political ideologies and political regimes ..." And the evidence for Huntington's assertion is easily discernible in what's going on in the former Yugoslavia. Indeed, it's only in "civilization" (or religious) terms that any sense can be made of the alliance structures that have grown up as a result of the conflict: Germany, France and Austria (and, as a result, the E.C.) favor Slovenia and Croatia (which are Catholic and Western Christian); Russia and the "Eastern Slavs" favor Serbia (which is - like the rest of the Slavic states - Orthodox); and Turkey and Iran favor the Muslims of Bosnia (which are Islamic). Indeed, the Balkans have been a tinderbox of conflict for hundreds of years precisely because they lie at the convergence of three major civilizations (or religions) and the cultures which these religions undergird: Western Christianity (Slovenia, Croatia, etc.); Orthodox Christianity (Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia, etc.); and Islam (Turkey, Albania, etc.).
I think, we’re in a New Axial Age. The idea of Axial Age was proposed by German philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883-1969), defined as around 500 B.C. when great thinkers appeared almost simultaneous in Ancient Greece, Israel, India and China, contributing their original ideas to the problems concerning the existence of human being. Distinctive cultural traditions were then formed respectively by Socrates and Plato in Ancient Greece, Lai-zi and Confucius in China, Sakyamuni in India, and Jewish prophets in Israel, which, after more than two thousand years of progress, have become the principle part of human intellectual wealth. These local cultural traditions were independent in birth, without mutual influence. “Until today mankind has lived by what happened during the Axial Period, by what was thought and created during that period. In each new upward flight it returns in recollection to this period and is fired anew by it. Even since then it has been the case that recollections and reawakenings of the potentialities of the Axial Period — renaissances — afford a spiritual impetus.” For example, the Europeans in Renaissance had recollected the origin of their culture, Ancient Greece, which had fired anew the European civilization and left its mark on global culture. Similarly, the Song and Ming Neo-Confucianism in China was stimulated by the impacts of Indian Buddhism; the Confucian thinkers, by “recollecting” Confucius and Mencius in pre-Qing Period, had promoted the ingenious Chinese philosophy to a new height. In a certain sense, the contemporary progress of global cultures might be a new leap on the basis of Axial Age. Has the contemporary human culture created, or will create, a New Axial Age then? -- Judged from certain evidences, it might be.
If Chinese culture hopes to contribute to the “coexistence of civilizations” in contemporary human society, it must needs to know itself, which means a cultural self-consciousness. The so-called “cultural self-consciousness” is the serious self-reflection by certain people in certain cultural tradition on their own culture’s origin, its history of formation, its characters (including both advantages and disadvantages) and its tendency of progress. The renewal of Chinese nation is on the eve. To achieve this goal, we must have a self-knowledge about Chinese culture, posit it on a proper place, and search with enthusiasm the genuine spirit of this culture with a long history, in order to present its essence to modern human society. Besides, we must reflect the disadvantages of our culture as well, to better the absorptions of other cultures’ essences, and to re-interpret it in a modern way adapting to the general tendency of progress of modern society. Only after this retrospective reflection could our country march as vanguard in the progress of global culture, and create a brave new world together with other cultures.
Confucianism and Taoism were principle schools of thinking in traditional Chinese culture, usually regarded as mutual complementary – of course, after Indian Buddhism was introduced into China, it also played an important role in Chinese society and culture. Now I’d like to discuss whether the Confucian and Taoist thinking could provide meaningful sources for the doctrine of “coexistence of civilizations”.
(1) The Confucian doctrine of Ren (仁: benevolence, virtue) is a resource of thinking with positive meaning for the “coexistence of civilizations”.
“The Way originates in Emotion” (道始于情), as prescribed in “Destiny is the resource of Human nature” (性自命出), manuscript in Guodian Bamboo Slips (《郭店竹简》). “The Way” here means “the Way of Human” (人道), i.e. the principles in dealing with human (or in anther word, social) relationships, which is different from “the Way of Heaven” (天道), i.e. the laws of nature or of universe. Human relationships are established on the basis of emotion, which is the starting point of Confucian doctrine of Ren. Once a disciple named Fan Chi asked Confucius: “What is Ren?” The answer was: “To love people.” Where is the origin of this thought, “to love people”? In The Doctrine of the Mean a saying of Confucius was quoted as: “Ren is the characteristic element of humanity, and the great exercise of it is in loving relatives.” The spirit of Benevolence and Love (仁爱) is rooted in human nature, and to love one’s relative is the most basic exercise of it. But the spirit of Ren goes far beyond this level. To quote Guodian Bamboo Slips: “To love and love deep, that is love; but to enlarge the love of one’s father to the love of human being, that is Ren.” “The enlargement of filial piety is to love all the people below Heaven.” From these sayings we observe that the Confucian Doctrine of Ren demands to enlarge “the love of relatives” to “the benevolence on people”, i.e. to “enlarge one’s self-concern to the concern on others” (推己及人), to “treat with the reverence due to age the elders in your own family, so that the elders in the families of others shall be similarly treated; treat with the kindness due to youth the young in your own family, so that the young in the families of others shall be similarly treated” – that is Ren. It is not easy to practice the doctrine of “enlarging one’s self-concern to the concern on others”, which requires a “practice of Ren” rooting in “the Way of Loyalty and Forgiveness” (忠恕之道), i.e. “never do to others as you do not wish done on yourself”, “wishing to be established himself, he seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others”. (“Loyalty is complete devotion of oneself; Forgiveness is the deduction of one’s self-concern.” 朱熹：《四书集注》).
If Ren is to be enlarged to the whole society, it would be as what Confucius once said: “To subdue one’s self and return to propriety, is perfect virtue. If a junzi (君子: gentleman, nobleman) can for one day subdue himself and return to propriety, all under heaven will return to Ren (after his example). Is the practice of Ren from a man himself, or is it from others?” “To subdue one’s self” and “to return to propriety” are usually interpreted as paralleling teachings, but I don’t think this is the best explanation of this doctrine. “To subdue one’s self and return to propriety, is perfect virtue” actually means only the “returning to propriety” based on “subduing of one’s self” could be regarded as Ren. Mr. Fei Xiaotong had his own interpretation about this doctrine: “Only after one has subdued one’s self could one return to propriety. The return to propriety is prerequisite for one to enter the society and become a social man. Perhaps it is just on this point Western and Eastern civilizations have parted, that is, whether to expand or to subdue one’s self.” I think Mr. Fei has made a proper remark. Zhu Xi also had an exegesis on this doctrine. “To subdue means to conquer,” he said, “and the ‘self’ means one’s personal desires. To return means to restore, and the ‘propriety’ means the laws and patterns of the Principle of Heaven.” According to this exegesis, one should subdue one’s personal desires to abide by proprieties and social criterions. Ren is one’s natural virtues (“Love is born in nature.”); and propriety is exterior conventions to rule one’s behavior, the function of which is to adjust social relationships so that people could live in harmony, as: “The most valuable function of propriety is harmony.” Only if one abides by proprieties and social criterions by free will, i.e. by an innate will to love people, could one fulfill the demands of Ren. Thus Confucius asked: “Is the practice of Ren from a man himself, or is it from others?” He made definite prescriptions to the relationship between Ren and propriety: “If a man be without Ren, what has he to do with the rites of propriety? If a man be without Ren, what has he to do with music?” He who sets the rites or music without a heart of Benevolence and Love is hypocrite, and is in a purpose of cheat. It is in this sense that Confucius thought, if people would pursue Ren by freewill and practice the demanding of a heart of Benevolence and Love according to proprieties in everyday life, harmony and peace would be realized in society, -- “If a junzi can for one day subdue himself and return to propriety, all under heaven will return to Ren.” I think this Confucian teaching is not totally meaningless for the political leaders of a state or the ruling classes in developed countries (United States in particular). “The politics of Ren” (仁政), or “the Way of virtuous emperor” (王道) instead of “the Way of hegemon” (霸道), is indispensable to “order the state” (治国) and to “harmonize all under Heaven” (平天下). If “the politics of Ren” or “the Way of virtuous emperor” is practiced, different cultures would be able to coexist and develop in peace; while “the Way of hegemon” will bring forth the “clash of civilizations”, resulting in monoculturalism and cultural Hegemonism. If Confucian doctrine of Ren is applied in regulating intercultural relationships, clash or war of civilizations will be avoided, and the coexistence of civilizations achieved.
Of course, even the Confucian doctrine of Ren is no miracle drug to solve all the problems about the existence of civilizations in contemporary society. However, as a set of moral self-regulations based on Ren, it would undoubtedly be of some practical significance to harmonize the coexistence of civilizations if practiced as a principle to regulate intercultural relationships.
It is not easy to make different cultures get on in harmony and thus to make states and nations in different cultural traditions coexist in peace. Probably the Confucian doctrine of “Harmony in Diversity” (和而不同) could provide us with an illuminating resource of thinking. According to Confucius, “The virtuous (junzi) get on in harmony without agreeing to each other; the base (xiaoren) agree with others without harmony.” Junzi, as intellectuals with moral discipline practicing the Way of Loyalty and Forgiveness, should try to get on in harmony in spite of their different opinions; but those with no morality or discipline always force others to accept their opinions, thus could not stay harmoniously. If this doctrine of “Harmony in Diversity” could be applied as a principle in dealing with intercultural relationships, it should be of very positive meaning to solve the conflicts among states or nations. It would be especially true in dealing with those disaccords and conflicts provoked by cultural differences (e.g. the differences on religious believes or values) among states or nations, that if we practice the teaching of “Harmony in Diversity” as principle to solve these conflicts.
“Harmony” and “Sameness” are generally regarded as different concepts in traditional Chinese thinking. There was even “a debate on the difference between Harmony and Sameness”. As a story recorded in Zuo-zhuan told us, once the Duke of Qi asked Yan-zi: “Is there only Ju get on with me in harmony?” The reply of Yan-zi was: “Ju merely expresses the same opinion with Your Highness, -- how could it be called harmony?” “Is there any difference between Harmony and Sameness?” asked the Duke. “They are quite different.” replied Yan-zi, “Harmony is like well-cooked dish, you must concoct fish and meat with water, fire, vinegar, sauce, salt and plum, and then cook the dish with firewood. The cook harmonizes these flavors to make it moderate. If it is too light, then salt should be added; if too salty, then water. When Junzi dines with such a dish, his heart would be pacified. This is analogous to the relationship between the King and his magistrates… But Ju is different from it. When Your Highness say that something is right, he agrees; when Your Highness say the opposite, he agrees as well. It is as if to moderate water with water, -- who could tolerate to eat such a dish? Or as if a zither always plays the same tune, -- who could tolerate to enjoy such music? This is why Sameness differs from Harmony.” (《左传•昭公二十年》) Another saying of Shibo (史伯) was recorded as: “In fact, only Harmony could activate the growth of lives, and Sameness would stop it on the contrary. Harmony is to moderate something with heterogeneous things, -- only in this way, the lives would flourish and find their belongings. If something is supplemented by homogeneous things, it could only be abandoned after exhausted. Thus the ancient virtuous emperors had concocted Earth with Metal, Wood, Water and Fire, to transform it into miscellaneous lives.” (《国语•郑语》). From the quotes above we see that Harmony and Sameness are totally different concepts. Only under the presupposition of difference and correlation could things “be moderated with heterogeneity”, and the diverse things progress together in harmony with each other. “To supplement something with homogeneity” is to aggregate the sameness, which would only suffocate the lives. The supreme ideal of traditional Chinese culture is that “miscellaneous lives are nourished together without harming each other; miscellaneous ways are practiced together without counteracting each other.” The “miscellaneous lives” and “miscellaneous ways” mean Diversity; the “without harming each other” and “without counteracting each other” mean Harmony. This doctrine would provide us with inexhaustible resource of thinking for the coexistence of diverse cultures.
Now in Western countries, people of insight have already admitted the possibility of coexistence of civilizations, that the clash or war provoked by mere cultural differences should be avoided. They believe that different nations and states should be able to achieve common understanding through cultural exchanges, dialogues, and discussions. This would be a process from “Diversity” to mutual understanding. This mutual understanding is neither to extinct nor to assimilate the other, but to find a crossing point in the coordinate system and to propel the progress of both cultures, -- such is the function of “Harmony”. It is just because of the differences of cultures that human civilization has become so colorful, and that the inter-supplementary and interactive structure has been formed gradually in the flowing river of human history. Cultural differences might lead to clashes or even wars, but not all differences are destined to cause clashes or wars. Especially in an era when sciences and technologies are rapidly developing, a massive war, if it happened, would destroy human being ourselves. Thus we must endeavor to pursue the harmonious coexistence through intercultural dialogues. Many scholars in China and abroad has realized now the importance of mutual understanding achieved by the dialogues bridging different cultures; for example, Habermas, who begins to emphasize the concepts of justice and solidarity. In my opinion, they are significant principles in dealing with international cultural relationships. Habermas’ “Principle of Justice” could be understood as a right for every national culture to protect its independence and autonomy and to develop by free will; his “Principle of Solidarity” could be understood as an obligation to sympathize, understand and respect other national cultures. By incessant dialogues and communications, there will be one day, sooner or later, that a positive cycle of interactions between different national cultures be formed. Another example is Gadamer, the German philosopher who left us only recently. He proposed that “understanding” should be extended to “universal dialogue”. Because of this extension, the relationship between subject and object (as cognitive or grammatical concepts) is able to be transformed from inequality to equality; in another word, only when the dialogists are in equal status could they have meaningful dialogues and fruitful results. Gadarmer’s consciousness of equality between subject and object and his theory of “cultural dialogue” are important ideas earnestly needed by our time, illuminating enough for us to understand properly and thoroughly the cultural or national relationships between China and other nations. However, no matter Habermas’ principles of justice and solidarity or Gadamer’s theory of universal dialogue, their common presupposition should be the principle of “Diverse Harmony”, since, only when nations and states in different cultural traditions could coexist in harmony through dialogues, could they acquire equal rights and obligations and could the “universal dialogue” between them be meaningful and fruitful. Thus, the Confucian principle of “Harmony in Diversity” based on the belief that “harmony is most valuable” could be practiced as one of the basic principles in dealing with intercultural relationships. This principle, if practiced in dealing with relationships between states and nations in different cultural traditions, would be of positive meaning not only in eliminating the disaccords, conflicts and even wars, but as dynamics in propelling states and nations to progress through communications. It is just in this sense that Bertrand Russell said: “Contacts between different civilizations have often in the past proved to be landmarks in human progress.” The contemporary human society needs different cultures to develop their proper traditional characters through mutual learning and convergence, in order to realize the coexistence of civilizations on a new basis.
(2) The Taoist Doctrine of the Way (tao) could provide significant resources of thinking to prevent “the clash of civilizations”.
If Confucius is a “man of virtue” (仁者), then Lao-zi is a “man of wisdom” (智者). The Way is the basic concept in Lao-zi’s Tao Te Ching, while “the spontaneity and doing-nothing” (自然无为: to obey natural laws without offences) is the basic feature of the Way. “The spontaneity and doing-nothing is the Way of Heaven,” said Wang Chong in his Lun Heng. All kinds of conflicts in contemporary human society are undoubtedly caused by the greedy desires for power and wealth. Those great powers, in their pursuit of selfish gains and expansions of power, exploit the resources of undeveloped countries and practice a politics of great powers, which is the fundamental cause of global chaos. Lao-zi’s doctrine of “spontaneity and doing-nothing” could be interpreted as to do nothing against people’s will, which will render the society and the world peace. Lao-zi once quoted the saying of an ancient sage: “As I do nothing, the people will reform by themselves; since I like quiet, they will keep order by themselves; when I seek no trouble, the people will prosper by themselves; when I have no desire, they will live in austerity by themselves.” It means: the ruler with political powers should neither interfere his people (doing-nothing), nor disturb their everyday life (liking quiet), nor act against their will (seeking no trouble), nor exploit them insatiably (having no desire); thus, the people will reform by themselves, keep order by themselves, prosper by themselves, and live in austerity by themselves. If we give a modern interpretation to this teaching and renew it in contemporary world, it would not only render peace to a country but function significantly in eliminating the clash of civilizations. It could be interpreted as: in international politics, the more a country interferes another, the more chaotic the world will be; the more those great powers threaten others with military might, the more turbulent and disorderly the world will be; the more those great powers exploit the undeveloped countries under the pretext of international aids, the poorer those undeveloped countries will be; the more those developed countries desire and fight for the world dominance of wealth and power, the more immoral and terrorized the world will be. So I think, maybe the doctrine of “doing-nothing” is a medicine prescription for the leaders of the so-called “new empires”. If they would accept this prescription, the world will have peace. However, the “new empires” always treat other states and nations with means of “doingness” (有为), such as interference, exploitation or military threat, which is undoubtedly determined by its greedy desires in the nature of all empires. According to Lao-zi, “No calamity’s worse than to be discontented. Nor is there a sin more dreadful than coveting. He who knows to be contented, truly he’ll always be so.” Aren’t the “new empires” discontented and coveting? Lao-zi said again: “Is not the Way of Heaven much like a bow bent? The upper part has been disturbed, pressed down; the lower part is raised up from its place; the slack is taken up; the slender width is broader drawn. For thus the Way of Heaven cuts people down when they have had too much, and fills the bowls of those who are in want. But not the way of man will work like this: the people who have not enough are spoiled, for tribute to the rich and surfeited.” Why is human society in a state of turbulence and disorder now? Isn’t it totally caused by human being themselves, especially those leaders of “new empires” acting against the Way of Heaven and losing the hearts of men, practicing a policy of spoiling those who have not enough for tribute to the rich and surfeited? Isn’t it the root of disaccords, conflicts and wars in contemporary world? Thus we find that the “clash of civilizations” theory is closely related with the theory of “new empire” hiding in its back.
Lao-zi strongly opposed wars for world peace. In Chapter 31, Tao Te Ching, he said: “Weapons at best are tools of bad omen, loathed by all. Thus those of the Way avoid them.” In wars there are always people dying, production destroyed and social orders broken, thus Lao-zi thinks it’s nothing good, that people hate it, and statesmen of the Way should not engage the country in war to solve their problems. Again Lao-zi said: “To those who would help the ruler of men by means of the Way: let him not with his militant might try to conquer the world; this tactic will be revenged by Heaven. For where armies have marched, there do briers spring up; where great hosts are impressed, years of hunger and evil ensue.” This is generally true in histories of all nations. In our country, after each mass war, the population would reduce dramatically, earth disserted, production destroyed, and robbers and thieves infesting. The two world wars were ended in this way, and so is the present warfare in Middle East. “New empire” whatsoever, if its leaders enkindled wars every where, as consequence, it would surely slide into hot water, since the people in the conquered countries would not surrender, and would fight without fearing even death, as Lao-zi said: “The people do not fear at all to die; what’s gained therefore by threatening them with death?” And: “As for those who delight to do murder, it is certain they never can get from the world what they sought.” From history we see that those who had initiated the wars, though momentary successes they might get, would finally fail and be dishonored. Hitler was an example, and Japanese Militarism another. As a “man of wisdom”, Lao-zi could observe the latent converse side with his wisdom, as he said: “On bad fortune the good fortune always leans; in good fortune the bad fortune always hides.” Now people in some countries are suffering, but it would be a necessary precondition prepared for their nation’s renewal in future. Take an example from the recent hundred years of history of our country, it is just after being beaten times and times again that our people had finally waken up, and that today we dare say the Chinese are on the eve of their nation’s great renewal. In my opinion, leaders of every country, especially of the new empires, should learn some teaching from the wisdom of Tao Te Ching, and realize that, in a long run of world history, the politics of great powers and Hegemonism have no future. Thus, I think the thinking of Lao-zi is very valuable to dismiss the theories of “clash of civilizations” and “new empire”. We advocate the theory of “coexistence of civilizations” and agree with Lao-zi’s thinking of “doing-nothing”, in the expectation of a world of Great Equality, of peace, of general progress and of common wealth for human being. Of course, as the thinking of Lao-zi was born two thousand years ago, it could not solve all the problems that contemporary human society is confronted with (including the disaccords and conflicts among nations), but his wisdom should be of important value to illuminate our way. Our task is to rediscover and develop the essence of his thinking, to give it a modern interpretation, and to facilitate those researchers for edifications in the treasury of classical thinking.
Differences in religious believes, values and ways of thinking could lead to conflicts among nations and states; and conflicts could lead to wars. However, are conflicts inevitable? Couldn’t they be pacified without warring for cultural differences? We must needs to find resources of thinking in all national cultures advocating the coexistence of civilizations, in order to counteract those cultural elements possible to invite conflicts. As argued above, the Confucianism and Taoism in Chinese culture could provide significant resources of thinking to counteract the clash of civilizations and to bring forth the coexistence of civilizations. I believe the same kind of resources could be found in cultures of all nations and states too. When human civilization is on threshold of the 21st century, should we practice a theory of “clash of civilizations” to deal with the problems among nations and states, or a theory of “coexistence of civilizations” to guide human society on a road leading to peaceful coexistence instead? This is a question. We must ponder at it seriously and make a thoughtful choice. It would be the blessing of human being if it chooses not the clash but the coexistence of civilizations. The Book of History told us: “All the states under Heaven should be harmonized.” As many other nations, the Chinese is a great one with a long and brilliant tradition of history and culture, which is undoubtedly a most valuable treasure for mankind. We should make good use of this treasure, exert its proper contributions to the peaceful coexistence of human society, in order that harmony might befall on the world, pushing forward the global cultural exchanges.
—— “Clash”or“Coexistence” of Civilizations? Tang Yijie From:(Beijing Forum) Translated by: YANG, Zhiyi