Sunday, October 19, 2014
01.244. Whose Military Strategies Should the US in Afghanistan follow: Sun Tzu or Clausewitz? (posted on November 19, 2011)
02. 100. George Washington and the Empress of China (posted on October 22, 2008,)
03. 299. Benjamin Franklin and Ginseng (posted on February 24, 2013).
04. 241. Why Americans Don't Seek Aristocratic Titles and Honors (posted on Oct 30, 2011).
05. 302. What differentiates Chinese from Americans? (posted on April 9, 2013).
06. 116. China Trade in New England, 1800s (posted on November 27, 2008).
07. 297. Ginseng, Tea and the American Revolution (posted on February 7, 2013)
08. 259. Ginseng and the Founding Fathers (posted on April 28, 2012).
09. 215. Chinese Influence on American Culture (posted on March 29, 2011)
10. 307. The Ten Most Popular Posts in this Weblog (posted on May 1, 2013).
Readers of this blog will find that the five posts found in 2013 remain in the top ten popular list, including 100 (Ranking No. 4 in 2013), 299 (Ranking No. 2 in 2013), 241 (Ranking No. 7 in 2013), 297 (Ranking No. 1 in 2013) and 215 (Ranking No. 3 in 2013)
Sunday, October 12, 2014
In his well-known book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, Dr. Niall Ferguson stated, "The reason North America's ex-colonies did so much better than South America's was because British settlers established a completely different system of property rights and political representation in the North from those built by Spaniards and Portuguese in the South." (His above book, p.14) Dr. Ferguson tries to answer the big question, why in recent 500 years the West civilization prevailed in the world. Many scholars have tried to provide their convincing answers to the question.
I don’t have desire to make an attempt to formulate an authoritative answer to it. However, I want to add my small findings to the answer, probably ignored by Dr. Ferguson in his efforts to create his compelling respond to the question. I believe that Chinese factor was one of the main factors that responsible for the different results of the two Americas’ ex-colonies.
From reading this blog and Dr. Dave Wang’s publications on the founders and Chinese civilization, a reader should learn that the founders made their consistent efforts to borrow positive elements from Chinese civilization in their undertaking to build a new nation in North America. Chinese civilization served as a positive force helping colonies’ growth from their formation to the early period of the republic. For example, Benjamin Franklin recommended using the Great Wall of China to safeguard the newly founded United States during the early years of the new republic. As for how the founders used Confucius to cultivate new private virtue for the Americans, you can read Dr. Dave Wang's article Confucius in the American Founding: The Founder's efforts to use Confucian Moral Philosophy in their Endeavor to Create New Virtue for the New Nation, in Virginia Review of Asian Studies, Volume 16 (2014): 11-26.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
During his presidency, Thomas Jefferson included an ancient Chinese poem from Shijing ( 诗经 The Book of Odes) in his scrapbook. This poem 衛 風 is about an ancient Chinese prince who was set up as an example for other leaders of the nation to follow. Jefferson’s inclusion of this specific Chinese poem is significant and reveals his close ties to Confucian ideals. Confucius pointed out, ''He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.'' Jefferson aimed to make himself this “North Polar Star.”
Therefore, it was not a surprise that Thomas Jefferson regarded the Chinese prince, whom Confucius considered to be one of the ideal rulers to be his role model. The poem pays tribute to Prince Wei, who was loved and respected by the people of his state. Confucius praised Prince Wei when he quoted this poem in his famous book, The Great Learning, to provide a standard to aspire to other princes and leaders of various states. Jefferson’s choice to place this poem in his scrapbook reflects his determination to be as great a leader as Prince Wei. Therefore, “His mem’ry of eternal prime, Like truth defies the power of time!” Jefferson wanted himself to be “in manners goodly great, Refine the people of the state.” Jefferson used Prince Wei to encourage himself to be a leader loved by the future American people, just as Prince Wei was praised and remembered by all posterity.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Dave Wang of St. John’s University made the bold claim that Confucius was Franklin’s moral exemplar, and that 11 out of his 13 virtues were inspired by “The Morals of Confucius.” According to Dr. Wang, Franklin “consistently and systematically promoted the main principles of the Confucian moral philosophy” in his adult life. Is this wishful thinking, or a breakthrough about the source of Franklin’s personal philosophy? There are indeed some of Franklin’s virtues that are closely linked with Confucian philosophy. Franklin is clearly attracted to the Stoic philosophy of meditation, calm, reason, silence, and avoiding the extremes of anger, fear, and the emotions of mobs. But was this taken from Confucius, or from the Greeks, the Romans, and King Solomon?
According to Confucius, rulers and ministers had a special obligation to live a strict moral code and to teach it to their followers. Franklin approved of this approach. In a letter in 1749, he commended Rev. George Whitefield for preaching to high-ranking officials in government. “If you can gain them to a good and exemplary life, wonderful changes will follow in the manners of the lower ranks.” He then cited Confucius on this principle. “When he saw his country sunk in vice, and wickedness of all kinds triumphant, he applied himself first to the grandees; and having by his doctrine won them to the cause of virtue, the commons followed in multitudes.” Above all, Franklin loved the Chinese tradition of honoring the elderly."
The above is from Dr. Mark Skousen, “The Chinese Influence on Franklin” in Franklin Prosperity Report April 2011 / Vol. 3, No. 4 Note: Mark Skousen, Ph.D., a sixth-generation grandson of Benjamin Franklin .