Tuesday, September 29, 2015

411. Chinese President Xi, Secretary of State John Kerry, Benjamin Franklin and Confucius

I am sure that my readers and the readers of Dr. Dave Wang's research on Benjamin Franklin and Confucian moral philosophy have noticed the following remarks from the Secretary and the President on September 25, 2015;

"Dr. Franklin – the reason I mention this is because Dr. Franklin was absolutely fascinated by the great scholar Confucius and by China generally, which he way back then called the wisest of nations.  As a scholar himself, Franklinlearned all he could about Chinese silkworm, cultivation, about ship design,candle-making, and home heating.  And one of his inventions, the Franklinstove, was actually based on Chinese ideas, which emphasizes that intellectual property was a hot issue way back then.  (Laughter.) 

 "And Secretary Kerry just announced to us that this room is named after Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States.  And Mr. Franklin had a close connection with China.  He has such great respect for Confucius – a Chinese philosopher, thinker, and founder of Confucianism – that he personally promoted Confucius moral philosophy among the American people. " 

Ben Franklin RoomWashington, DC
September 25, 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

410. Dr. Eric Schwitzgebel, Confucius-A Part of American Past

Dr. Eric Schwitzgebel, professor of philosophy at UC Riverside, wrote an excellent Op-Ed article for Los Angeles Times, titled “What's missingin college philosophy classes? Chinese philosophers,” He pointed out correctly, “Our neglect of ancient Chinese philosophers in U.S. philosophy departments is partly a remnant of our European colonial past.” However, “the remnant of our European colonial past” is only a part of American history, a main part if you want to say. Clearly, we need to study other parts and piece them together to construct the whole history of the United States. There is no right history until we get all parts and put them in right place in American past.

The tradition-to learn from Confucius moral philosophy, started by the principal founders of this country, was longer than United States history. Actually, the main founders were good students of Confucius moral philosophy. They not only studied but also promoted Confucius moral philosophy in North America tirelessly. As early as 1738 Benjamin Franklin published some chapters of Confucius moral principles in his widely read newspaper, Pennsylvania Gazette. Thomas Jefferson even regarded a moral model set up by Confucius as his own moral example.   

Dr. Schwitzgebel has found that, “Considered globally, moreover, Confucius, Laozi and, to a lesser extent, the other major ancient Chinese philosophers have been enormously influential.” He has also found surprisingly the fact that in the United States, “among the general population, Confucius and Laozi are better known and more broadly discussed than any but a handful of European philosophers.” 

Why this? We have to go back to the founding fathers' wisdom and efforts to borrow from Confucius ethics. It was not Confucius walked with his teachings into American history but the founders applied his moral teachings in the founding of this country. As for how the founders used Confucius moral principles to help them in the founding of the United States, please read Dr. DaveWang’s article" Confucius in American Founding", in Virginia Review of AsianStudies, vol. 16, 2014. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

409. Samuel Shaw Showed John Jay the Prospect of American Trade With China

Some of me readers might be surprised by the news that Chinese factory are selling their manufactures to the United States.  Even more, China's rail manufacturing company  is setting its sights on the United States, breaking ground on Thursday for a $60 million plant in Springfield, Mass., that will assemble new cars for Boston's subway system. 

Actually, the prospect that the United States is a big market for China's products was predicted by Major Samuel Shaw , (1754-1794) the first American Counsel to China appointed by George Washington 230 years ago. In his letter to John Jay  (1745-1829) dated May 10, 1785, Samuel reported below:

The Day of our arrival at Canton, August 30, and the following days, we were visited by the Chinese merchants and the chiefs and gentlemen of the several European establishments. The Chinese were very indulgent towards us. They styled us that New People; and when by the map we conveyed to them an idea of the extent of our country, with its present and increasing population, they were highly pleased at the prospect of so considerable a market for the products of theirs. As for more on starting of the China Trade, read Dr. Dave Wang's paper, With China We Trade.