Sunday, July 31, 2016

468. Benjamin Franklin: The First Publisher of Confucius Work

Confucius statues have been seen  probably all over the United States today. In addition to the Supreme Court building, one can find many Confucius statues in many places. There is a Confucius statue in a park, called Chinese Cultural Garden in Cleveland. The Cleveland Public Library invited me to deliver a lecture on Chinese cultural influence on North America several years ago. After my presentation, Carolyn, the librarian,  guided me to the Chinese Cultural Garden to visit the Statue of Confucius in the garden. However I didn't see the stature, for it was covered and was under repair. The City of Cleveland made it a big event when the repair was completed and Confucius statue was reinstalled in the Garden. One still can find the article of reporting the event. The event took place on October 3, 2014. More information regarding the event can be accessed through this article,  Confucius returns to his place in Cleveland's Chinese Cultural Garden.

However, I was attracted by the Statue of Benjamin Franklin on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on July 29, 2016. The statue captures the historical moment when Franklin was reading his own weekly newspaper, Pennsylvania Gazette. My readers who are familiar with Dr. Dave Wang's work know that Franklin published some chapters of Confucius work in his widely welcomed newspaper in Pennsylvania and other colonies in North America in 1737. Below you can tell that I was trying to find out what Franklin was reading, chapters of Confucian moral philosophy or his own works enlightened by Confucius moral principles? I am sure that you will find the answer on your own as soon as you see the statue in person.

Monday, July 18, 2016

467. Dr. Alfred Hornung Uses Dr. Dave Wang's Paper as Text in his Cultural Course

Once a while we found that Dr. Dave Wang's papers in the field of traditional Chinese civilization's influence on the founders of the United States have been used as teaching text. A friend of mine sent me several pictures of showing that Dr. Wang's paper, The US Founders and China: The Origins of Chinese Cultural Influence on the United States is used as text in a graduate course. I have no idea where this course is taught. However, I have some basic information on the course. The course is named as ChiAmeica: Stages of Transcultural Encounters and is taught by University Professor Afred Hornung from Johannes Gentenberg University, in Mainz, Germany. Professor Hornung is a well-known specialist on American culture.  According to the introduction from the University, Professor Hornung is a "specialist in American literatures and cultures from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First century and a leading scholar in all areas of life writing. As a long-time editor of the journal Amerikastudien / American Studies, as president of the German Association for American Studies DGfA and of MESEA Society for Multi-Ethnic Studies: Europe and the Americas, as a member of the International Committee of the American Studies Association he participated in shaping the transatlantic and transnational fields of American Studies."  It is very impressive that Dr. Wang's paper has been selected by such a prestigious professor as teaching text.

More information on the course he is teaching you can find from the picture below:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

466. China's Cultural Impact on the World Stopped at the Water Edge?

In his article, Looking at China's past to understand its future,  Mr. Cliff Stearns,  the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 6th Congressional District from 1989 to 2013,  and President of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress, pointed out that China's cultural impact on other countries often stopped at the water edge.  No doubt, Cliff hasn't read Dr. Dave Wang's papers on Chinese cultural influence on colonial North America and the founders efforts to borrow from Chinese culture in their efforts to build a new country in North America. In deed, from the Great Wall to Confucius, the founders used many positive Chinese culture elements to help with their endeavor to lead Americans to start an uncharted journey in North America. From the image you can tell the speech, Dr. Dave Wang made in Japan in 2010.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

465. Confucian Ideas Lifted Americans From Corruption

In today's New York Times, July 12, 2016, David Brooks published his OP-ED article, Is the U.S. On the Path to Ruin. He provided a very clear historical picture on the political crisis generated by moral corruption in the federal governments in the 1880s and the 1890s. According to him, in the periods, “America faced crises as deep as the ones we face today …The political system was worse and more corrupt than ours is today. Culturally things were bad, too. Racism and anti-immigrant feelings were at plaguelike levels.” 

In order to change it, “America responded.”David listed some specific measures to show how Americans stood up to meet the challenges. However, he missed the most important American response to fight against the contagious corruption. At this critical conjuncture, the American leaders adopted Chinese civil service examination system based on Confucian ideas. Under the help of Chinese civil service Examination system the Americans lifted Americans out of notorious corruption that tortured the whole nation. Both the inheritance systems in the colonies overthrew by the American Revolution and the Spoil System started by Thomas Jefferson Administration were replaced with the merit system. As a result, corruptions was greatly reduced.

According to Confucius, governing authority should be based on merit, and not inherited status. The public service positions should be given to those who passed the imperial examinations. The Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), which established Confucianism as its official philosophy installed the meritocracy as its governmental system to select officials in the second century BC. The Han Dynasty began choosing public service official based on civil service exams for the first time in the world.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

464 Confucianism and the Origin of American Democratic System

It is widely recognized that throughout Chinese history, Confucianism was employed in the service of authoritarian system. Democracy was not a part of the Confucian tradition. However, some scholars made their efforts to argue that Confucian tradition was consistent with democracy. They have proved their opinion by arguing that humaneness  (仁)or benevolence, the core of Confucian thought, was used as a Confucian standard to judge authoritarian politics. If a ruler failed in his responsibilities to be a good ruler, he should be removed, and a good ruler installed.

However, this is not Dr. Dave Wang's argument on relationship between American Democracy and Confucianism. Confucianism indeed made contribution to the origin of American democratic system. In the founders eyes, Confucian moral philosophy was valuable for their efforts to enhance the virtue of the leaders. For the founders, to keep leaders with good virtue was the key to success of a democratic system. Therefore, Confucianism was involved the founding the the democratic institution in the founding era of the United States.

"If we want to grow in virtue, and experience a healthier, more productive political environment, each of us must demand more virtue." (Arthur C. Brooks, The Trick to Being More Virtuous, The New York Times, November 28, 2014.) This was exactly the situation that the founders were facing when they called upon Confucius moral principles to be employed to advance American virtues.
The picture shows Professor Krill Thompson's article, Traditional Chinese Concepts and 17th-18th Century Enlightenment Ideals: Reflections on the IHS Conference on Freedom, Equality, Democracy, and the Rise of Market Economy, October 2015

Monday, July 4, 2016

463. Confucian Virtue and the Founding of the United States

Today, we celebrate American Independence Day.  We think of July 4, 1776, as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. 

In celebrating the National Day, I feel that the Americans should thank Confucianism. Why so? Confucian moral philosophy had influenced the founders when unfolding the blueprint of this nation. 

        As the main designers of the new nation, the founders knew that it took more than a perfect plan of government to preserve liberty. They needed some moral principles accepted by the people to encourage them to obey laws voluntarily. They recognized that a free government should be supported by people who could act morally without compulsion, and would not willfully violate the rights of others. Benjamin Franklin firmly believed that "Laws without morals are in vain."Cultivating new virtues for the fledgling United States therefore became one of the most significant themes during this time of social and political transformation. With this notion in mind, the founders turned to Confucian moral philosophy. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

462. Chinese Culture Helpd American Founding

We all know the historical fact that Chinese tea helped trigger the American Revolution. On December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty, disguised as Native Americans dumped into the Boston Harbor the tea from Fujian Province of China. The British government took action to protect the interests of the East Indian Company. The event led to the American Revolution.   

Thank to Dr. Dave Wang's research, we have learned that Chinese culture also helped the founding of the United States. During the founding era of the United States, the Founding Fathers “managed to establish a set of ideas and institutions that, over the stretch of time, became the blueprint for political and economic success for the nation-state in the modern world.”[1]  Dr. Dave Wang's intent is to bring to light to what was the founders’ efforts to adopt some principles of Confucian moral philosophy and made them into the fiber of the new virtue met the requirement of a free and democratic society. 

The founders tried to develop good morals to ensure that the democratic system would function in correct direction. They attempted to use Confucian moral philosophy to safeguard the democratic system, build private virtue, and bring up citizens with good morals to serve the new nation. Through the founders’ efforts, Confucian moral philosophy contributed greatly to the formation of the American virtue.

[1] Joseph J. Ellis, American Creation: Triumph and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic, Alfred Knoopf, a Division of Random House, New York, 2007, p.3.