Friday, May 29, 2015

392. Philadelphia's First Confucius Institute

As a part of Temple University’s ongoing commitment to international education, the university is collaborating with China’s Zhejiang Normal University (ZJNU) to launch the Confucius Institute at Temple University. The center for the teaching of Chinese language and culture is the first of its kind in greater Philadelphia.

I have made it clear that Benjamin Franklin created the first Confucius institute. Franklin named his group (institute )Junto. It was founded  in 1727 immediately after his returning from England. It is believe that Junto comes from a mistaken use of the Spanish noun “junta,” which means “a meeting.” This word derives from the Latin “iunct,” which means “to join.” 

Interestingly enough, Junto (君道) in Chinese is interpreted as the “Way of a Gentleman” or the “Path Leading to a Virtuous Person.” The Chinese meaning seems to best reflect Franklin's purpose of establishing the group. It shouldn't regarded as coincidence. It is well-know that one of the main goals of Junto was to cultivate more virtuous members for society. For more information on Junto, one can read Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, now available online. However, there is much  work to be done to prove that Junto, the name of the group was borrowed from Chinese. I hope we will better understand Junto with more study of Benjamin Franklin's efforts to cultivate his virtue by scholars worldwide.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

391.Confucius, the Founders and Private Morality

In his Op-Ed article, Goodness and Power, April 28, 2015, David Brooks, the columnist of the New York Times, had a good point on private morality. He said that private morality "is about building trust and enduring personal relationships. That means being fair, empathetic, honest and trustworthy." He continued "People with good private morality are better at navigating for the long term. They genuinely love causes beyond themselves."

Through reading Dr. Dave Wang's article, Confucius in American Founding, a reader should be able to find out that Mr. David Brooks' opinion on private virtue is consistent with the founders'. According to Dr. Dave Wang, the founders understood that respectable and benevolent men were more likely to support the universal pursuit of happiness. An affectionate man would not only be more likely to live in harmony with his neighbors, but also able to understand the mutual sacrifices required for the success of the new nation. The founders drew from Confucius’ moral teachings for the private virtue that the new nation required.  The main tenets of Confucian moral philosophy provided what the founders needed to build the new private virtue for its citizens and future leaders. These founders dreamt of creating the truly virtuous people brought up by the Confucian standards of a gentleman. As a result, Confucian moral philosophy became so important to the founders and the cause they fought for.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

390. Paul Krugman, Benjamin Franklin and Old-Time Economics

In his New York Times Op-Ed Article That Old-Time Economics, April 17, 2015, Paul Krugman pointed out,  "In recent years, however, innovative economic ideas, far from helping to provide a solution, have been part of the problem. We would have been far better off if we had stuck to that old-time macroeconomics, which is looking better than ever." I agree with his opinion. To learn from history is always a good way to solve today's issues.

Paul Krugman's opinion reminds me of the article, Benjamin Franklin and China by Dr. Dave Wang. In this article, Dr. Wang examined Franklin's study of Chinese economic theory.  According to Dr. Wang,  at some point between 1765 and 1774, Franklin studied Chinese economic theory. Franklin wrote the following to convey a pamphlet on economic theories by George Whatley, his friend; "It was an excellent saying of a certain Chinese Emperor, I wil, if possible, have no Idlesin my Dominions’ for if there be one Man idle, some other Man must suffer Cold andHunger. We take this Emperor’s Meaning to be, that the Labor due to the Public, by each Individual, not being perform’d by the Indolent, and necessary to furnish his Subsistence, must naturally fal to the share of others, who must thereby sufer.”

From Franklin's autobiography we learn that Franklin practiced the Chinese emperor’s theory at his home. In his own home he “kept no idle Servants”.  In October 1786, Franklin showed his position “against accumulation of debts as a practice adverse to the economy and cited the high interest in China as a salutary means of discouraging borrowing.” He stated that interest was 3 percent per month, for 10 months in China, or 30 per cent per ann., which promoted industry, kept down the price of land, & made freehold more common.”

From Dr. Dave Wang’s article we have learned that Franklin’s examination of Chinese economics was so broad that even by today’s standard his study was more extensive than certain so-called experts specializing in Chinese economics. Franklin tried to gather economic information from China as detailed as he could. He recorded in his notebook, a silversmith’s and his apprentice’s salary in a month, and a medical doctor’s income for his visit to his patients. Interestingly enough, Franklin even examined the “Fee paid on a Gift from the King.” His study of silk economy also gives readers a very deep impression. After examining the silk economy in China, Franklin pointed out the perspective for silk economy in Pennsylvania. "That Part of the Imperial Revenue in China paid in Silk, amounts to above 955,000Ib. Troy, and perhaps this is not the twentieth Part of the Produce of that Empire. One Million of Trees disposed into Mulberry Walks, in Pennsylvania, would in a few Years, enable a yearly Remittance to Great-Britain of a Million Sterling, and no Ways interfere with the other necessary Branches of Labour in the Community."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

389. Nicholas Kristof and John Adams Wisdom

In his Op-Ed article, Starving for Wisdom, The New York Times, April 16, 2015, Mr. Nicholas Kristof quoted John Adams, " “I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History and Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.” (John Adam's letter to Abigail in 1780).

Mr. Kristof called for educators to pay more attention to humanity. I totally agree with his opinion.

To his strong arguments what I want to add is that John Adam's wisdom was beyond the humanity. Adams wanted moral education to the younger generation. In Dr. Dave Wang's paper, CONFUCIUSIN THE AMERICAN FOUNDING:  THE FOUNDERS’EFFORTS TO USE CONFUCIAN MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN THEIR ENDEAVOR TO CREATE NEWVIRTUE FOR THE NEW NATION (Virginia Review of Asian Studies, vol. 16 (2014), readers will find John Adam's efforts to advance virtue.

For John Adams, the purpose of government is to allow the pursuit of happiness. Such happiness lies not merely in “ease, comfort, [and] security,” but also characteristics such as virtue, humility, industry, and goodwill. Adams confidently declares “Confucius… agreed in this” goal of happiness through virtue. Adams also realized that virtue ennobled individual character and lifted the entire society. Adams’ statement conveys the significance of virtue for a good government and the significance of Confucius's moral philosophy in Adams’ own efforts to bring up “the minds of the people.” John Adam showed his high regard for Confucian virtues and believed that any good Americans should possess these traits. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, Adams criticized the English theologian and natural philosopher Joseph Priestley for ignoring Confucius in his writing: "Priestley ought to have given us a sketch of the religion and morals of Zoroaster, of Sanchoniathon, of Confucius, and all the founders of religions before Christ, whose superiority would, from such a comparison, have appeared the more transcendent."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

388. The American and Chinese Futures Totally Intertwined

In today's The New York Times, April; 15, 2015, famous Thomas L. Friedman told his readers, "the American and Chinese economies and futures today are now totally intertwined."  As a history lover, I am no longer interested in today situation. However, today is developed from yesterday. Readers of this blog and Dr. Dave Wang's works on the founders and China have realized that the new Americans and ancient Chinese have been intertwined since the beginning of this country.

The United States and China "almost take for granted the ties that bind them today: the $600 billion in annual bilateral trade; the 275,000 Chinese studying in America, and the 25,000 Americans studying in China; the fact that China is now America’s largest agricultural market and the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt; and the fact that last year Chinese investment in the United States for the first time exceeded American investment in China." See Thomas L. Friedman's op-ed article, What's Up With You.

Indeed, this was unthinkable for the founders of this country when they opened the trade with China 228 years ago. The founders understood well it was essential for the new nation's survival to establish commercial relations with China. That's why so many founders involved in the pioneering sail of the Empress of China in 1784, immediately in the wake of signing the Treaty of Paris.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

387. Benjamin Franklin and a Modern American Patriot

Mr. Stephan A. Schwartz (Distinguished Consulting Faculty, Saybrook University and Editor ) is correct when he pointed out that  "No founder had as detailed a plan, or worked more diligently to create the kind of country he had in mind than Benjamin Franklin."

Franklin created many valuable things for the United States. They are well-known and I don't have to make a long list here. It is well-known that he was a founder of the first hospital and worked hard to find food plants from other parts of the world and had them transplanted in north America. However, more importantly, Franklin set up a moral example for Americans to follow. In his life time, he tirelessly advanced his own virtue and urged others to do the same. In order allow others to enjoy virtue principles of Confucius, he published some works of the great philosopher in 1737. More impressively, he claimed that Confucius was his example for moral purification.

On Franklin's drive to improve his virtue and Confucian moral philosophy, you can read Dr. Dave Wang' article, Benjamin Franklin and Chinese Civilization through this link.

Monday, April 13, 2015

386. Kites and Link to Chinese Cutlure

Mr. Adam Tamburin, who can be reached  at 615-726-5986 and on Twitter @tamburintweets, reported a very interesting story on April, 12, 2015. According to his article, Vanderbilt students use kites to offer link to Chinese culture, the Vanderbilt students who organized the kite-flying event said the playtime offered the children, who are of Chinese descent, a link to their native culture.

It is very interesting. Indeed, Kite served as the link between China and the colonial North America in 1752, fourteen years before the United States was founded. In June that year in Philadelphia,  Benjamin Franklin flied a kite with the help of his son, William. This was the famous Franklin's kite experiment. The experiment then became the legend of the United States.

Almost everyone knows it. However, not everyone knows that fact that Kite was invented in China.
From Dr. Dave Wang's research, readers have learned that Benjamin Franklin borrowed many technologies from China and used them to improve his own inventions.