Saturday, February 25, 2012

251. Franklin and Confucius' Way of Social Promotion

Confucius pointed out that it was very important for kings to behave themselves well in their court and family because their actions are certainly imitated. During the founding era of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, among others, worked hard to promote this important principle. In the wake of their independence from Britain, some revolutionary veterans “thought it proper to distinguish themselves and their posterity from their fellow citizens.”

They wanted to “form an order of hereditary knights.” Franklin raised objections to this idea by using the Confucian principle of social promotion. He told his fellow Americans, “Thus among the Chinese, the most ancient, and, from long Experience, the wisest of Nations, Honour does not descend but ascends. If a Man from his Learning, his Wisdom or his Valour, is promoted by the Emperor to the Rank of Mandarin, his Parents are immediately intitled to all the same Ceremonies of Respect from the People, that are establish’d as due to the Mandarin himself; on this Supposition, that it must have been owing to the Education.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

250. Modern Science Technology and the Founders

In his new book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, Dr. Niall Ferguson made the following statement, "modern science and technology are fundamentally Western products." He also told his readers that the past is really our only reliable source of knowledge to understand our future. Therefore, before we agree with his above statement we are obliged to examine the sources of modern Western science and technology.

We know that the founders of this country worked hard to draw positive elements from Chinese culture in their efforts to build a new nation in North America. Some eminent scientists in North America represented by Benjamin Franklin borrowed some Chinese technologies in making some fundamentally Western products. It was under the help of Kite, an invention of China, that Franklin made the famous scientific test related to electricity.

Now it is very clear, modern western science and technology had incorporated in their progress some scientific and technical elements from China and other countries in the world. For the sake of our understanding better the future, history shouldn't be cut into separated and unrelated pieces but should be pieced together all relevant parts into a big picture. In this sense, I do agree with Dr. Ferguson, "the biggest threat to Western civilization is posed not by other civilizations, but by our own pusillanimity — and by the historical ignorance that feeds it."