2 December, 2023


My Point Is That China Also Produced Great Personalities

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

May I suggest that somewhere in or around the so-called Axial Age, we had two philosophers, in two corners of the world, emphasizing two very different aspects of being, of governance and of existence; one expressing the ubiquity and universality of conflict, of flux, of change, epitomized in the symbol of fire –and I refer of course to Heraclitus — and on the other hand, Confucius, emphasizing order, stability, hierarchy, tradition, great harmony.

Now the incredible richness of the Chinese philosophy and the Chinese philosophical heritage is not only that it produced in Confucius, this antipode to the Heraclitian conception, but that you had another philosopher who is the closest we came in the modern age to Heraclitus’ notion of restlessness and flux –and was arguably a radical humanist– Mao Ze Dong. So China produced a Confucius emphasizing that ‘two combine into one’ and striving for great order under the heavens, and a Mao Ze Dong, also a philosopher, emphasizing that ‘one divides into two’; that there is ‘great disorder under heavens, the situation is excellent’.

Thus China contained these antinomian conceptions, outlooks, and ways of being. But I propose that China went further and produced perhaps a synthesis of these two conceptions. You may call it a synthesis, or if you do not wish to use Hegelian triadic terms, we may fall back on Aristotle’s Golden Mean or the Buddha’s earlier notion of the Middle Path. My point is that China also produced personalities who are either a synthesis of or are on the middle path between the Confucian and Heraclitian concepts, and here I refer to great personalities such as Zhou en Lai, Liu Shao Chi and Deng Hsiao Peng.

These are the ideas that I would like to present to you as a kind of a backdrop for the discussion.

Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka made above comment at UNESCO. On Monday 16th April, 2012, Ambassador Jayatilleka moderated one of three  panels of a seminar on “Confucianism and New Humanism in a Globalized World” organized by UNESCO and the Confucius Institute Headquarters of the People’s Republic of China. Among the panelists at this session was Jacques Attali, designated as one of the three most influential intellectuals in France and one of the 100 most influential worldwide.

The Forum was opened by the Director-General of UNESCO, Mrs. Irina Bokova; the Executive Director of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, Xu Lin; and the founder of the Nishan Forum, Professor Xu Jialu. The debate focused on three main themes: harmony through diversity and the demands of a globalized world; harmony through diversity and dialogue between cultures; and harmony through diversity and the New Humanism.

Ambassador Jayatilleka moderated the second session on “Harmony through Difference and the Dialogue among Cultures”. The speakers of this session were Dr. Jacques ATTALI, former special advisor to the President of the French Republic, François Mitterrand, Founder and former President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); Sabiha AL-KHEMIR, Tunisian writer, art consultant, and artist, Founding Director of the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar and Project Director of “Beauty and Belief – Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture”; Prof. Graham WARD, Professor of Contextual Theology and Ethics at the University of Manchester, UK; Prof. TONG Shijun, Professor of Philosophy and Director of School Board of East China Normal University, former Vice-President of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS).

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  • 0

    China also destroyed many; ZengHe the great navigator was stopped (result- China playing second fiddle in the past 500 yrs), Many emperrors destroyed the great works of predecessors, fine example is Mao destroying Ming vases and other cultural tressurs.
    Now rich Chinese buying the only surviving from the West who had an appreciation and an indirect role in the preservation of Chine culture.
    If n ot for these Brits Anuradapura was jungle, no Olcot (US) no Buddist hype.
    China though recorded that Indians bought martial arts and that we had the biggest ships at one time, neglected in our histories

    • 0

      anything goes as development with support of a bussiness country, another country has to suffer with fail.

  • 0

    I believe China under the Ming Dynasty had a roaring success. However Mao Tse Tung like Mahinda Rajapakse managed to woo the masses to assune power. Mao had similar larger than life size cutouts of his placed all over China, as being presently done here by MR. Even Premadasa too was in a similar mind set earlier. I hear that the Chinese were mesmerised to a point that if it rained for their cultivation, would thank Mao for the rain. Although under Mao’s Socialism the Private sector or the Capitalists were wiped out in China, today the largest number of young Millionaires are found in China, just like here the young Rajapaksas, young Mervyn Silvas, young S.B. Dissanayakes are the Millionaire Tycoons of this society. There is still abject poverty in rural China still. The best looked after are the Forces in China with housing and the other conveniences and part of the workforce.

  • 0

    The man who try compare MAO Zadon with MR is worng conception and who has no knowlwdge of MORDEAN HISTORY OF CHINA SINCE 1911,REPUBLIC OF CHINA Under the Sun Yath Sen! New People’s Republic of China was founded by Communist Party of China in 1949.Leader was Mao Zedon.
    (He) Mao has upside down ,old Republic into NEW people’s Democarcy Dictershaip of Real Peolpes Governmnat under the leadership of CPC>
    Mao was one of the world GENIUS PRODUCT BY HAMAN HISTORY OF WOLRD CIVILIZATION.Please don’t try compare and contrust wtih Mahinda Rajapakasa of Sri Lankan President of Island with MAO ZADON.
    He was philoslhier of marxist,politicial stategaist,military and war stategist,great statmen,AND MORE THAN REAL LEADER OF CHINIESS PEOPLE AS WELL AS PEOPLE OF WORLD.WITHOUT DOUBT MAO WAS 20TH CENTURY GREAT MARXIXT-LENIST,UNTIL HUMAN CIVILIZATION EXIST HIS NAME WITH FOR EVER-HISTORY OF HUMANKIND.Learn something if people have no knowledge of CHINA AND MAO. China will guide NEW PATH OF GOLBE AND change world

    • 0

      If MR is no comparison to Mao Tse Tung or Mao Zedon as this Mao is a genious product of Human History of World Civilisation according to N. Wimaladas, not only Mao’s image has been taken off or removed by the masses in China after his demise but also many have forgotten him altogether, as what the masses did to Lenin in Russia. As for the Communist Party or the Socialist Party in China, how some of them have become Billionaires is anybody’s guess practising Anti Capitalist doctrines. The Corrupt whose hearts bleed for the poor have certainly helped themselves more than the masses?

  • 0

    Indeed, the reading of Confucianism that is now standard among authoritarian champions does less than justice- to the variety within ‘Confucius’s own teachings.Confucius did not recommend blind allegiance to the state. When Zilu asks him “how to serve a prince,” Confucius replies, “Tell him the truth even if it offends him.”]] Those in charge of censorship in Singapore or Beijing would take a very different view. Confucius is not averse to practical caution and tact, but does not forgo the recommendation to oppose a bad government. “When the [good] wayprevails in the state, speak boldly and act boldly. When the state
    has lost the way, act boldly and speak softly.”

    As a moderator Dayan should have drawn attention to the work of Dr.P.C. Chang, the chinese intelectuall who made an emmence contribution to formulate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • 0

    I much prefer the Japanese. While the Chinese have a strong work ethic, it stems from a slave mentality. The much-hyped Chinese economic “miracle” is really nothing more than semi-literate Chinese (quite often, peasants who have moved from the countryside to the cities) earning pennies a day, slaving away for multinational corporations in overcrowded factories that lack proper ventilation. Recently, there was a story about a Chinese boy who sold a kidney to buy an ipad. If people are selling their organs for the sake of material consumption, what does that say about the standard of living?

    In any event, the Chinese economic “miracle” boils down to quantity over quality. The Chinese are very good at mass producing colossal quantities of rubbish to export overseas at astonishingly low prices; a practice known in economics as dumping. The problem is that China does not have labor unions. Lack of labor unions leads to slave labor, which in turn results in products that are of substandard quality.

    Sri Lanka should stay away from China; whether it be taking a loan or building a road. But it is probably too late for that.

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