Chinese culture is being westernized
Swiss journal for philosophy
StPh Volume 74 Reverse Transformation 10.24894 / StPh-de.2015.74013 19.10.2015 Swiss Journal of Philosophy Volume 74: 191-204 Fabian Heubel Brief Description Since the late 19th century Chinese scholars have developed a strong interest in Western philosophy. This interest has been marked by an urgent sense of crisis engendered by the dynamics of Chinese modernization. Liáng Shùmíng's book Eastern and Western cultures and their philosophies serves as an example for the tendency to intertwine intercultural philosophy and a critical analysis of the cultural situation after the republican revolution of 1911. The motivation for engaging in this comparative study is a pressing issue that he addresses in the form of a radical question: Is Chinese culture still possible after the violent intrusion of Western culture in China? Studia philosophica 74/2015 Fabian Heubel Reversing Transformation Philosophy and Crisis Awareness in China in the Early 20th Century Since the late 19th century Chinese scholars have developed a strong interest in Western philosophy. This interest has been marked by an urgent sense of crisis engendered by the dynamics of Chinese modernization. Liáng Shùmíng's book Eastern and Western cultures and their philosophies serves as an example for the tendency to intertwine intercultural philosophy and a critical analysis of the cultural situation after the republican revolution of 1911. The motivation for engaging in this comparative study is a pressing issue that he addresses in the form of a radical question: Is Chinese culture still possible after the violent intrusion of Western culture in China? I. The Birth of Intercultural Philosophy from the Crisis of Chinese Culture The interest of Chinese scholars in Western philosophy, which emerged in the 19th century, is unmistakably under the sign of the severe crisis into which China has been plunged by the dynamic of modernization. Especially after the defeat in the first Sino-Japanese War (1895), this dynamic experienced a revolutionary radicalization that brought the collapse of the over two thousand year old Chinese Empire (1911). Dealing with the relationship between western and eastern cultures (besides China, India in particular is being respected) and paying attention to its philosophical foundations emerge as really urgent at the moment when awareness of the threat to China's cultural identity increases dramatically : the interest in intercultural philosophy and the associated endeavor to reconstruct the intellectual history of China with the help of categories of western philosophy has been brought about by the dynamics of this modernization. Liáng Shùming's (1893–1988) book, which emerged from a series of lectures, was first published in 1921, The Cultures of the East and the West and Their Philosophies. It is an important testimony to the confrontation of Chinese intellectuals with the comparative scheme of East and West.1 At the same time, it is testimony to the fact that intercultural philosophy and crisis-conscious diagnosis of the times have developed in close interrelationship in China.2 In the introduction, Liáng Shùmíng states that towards the end of the 1910s, as part of the movement for new culture, there was a strong interest in comparing cultures in East and West. For him, the motivation to deal with the topic is an urgent present-day problem, which he poses in the form of a sharply posed question: is Chinese culture still possible after the violent invasion of China by the West? From the mouth of a scholar who has made it his business to save cultural tradition and whose father committed suicide out of desperation over the cultural decline of China, this question shows great intellectual honesty. Because it is asserted that after the break-in of Western culture, the so-called traditional Chinese 1 2 For an introduction see Guy Alitto: The Last Confucian. Liang Shu-ming and the Chinese Dilemma of Modernity (Berkeley et al .: University of California Press, 2 1986) 82-134. In the following I understand intercultural philosophy as a philosophical movement in the area of tension between comparative literature and transculturality. While comparative studies are interested in differences and similarities of cultures in a way that more or less presupposes the existence of ethnically or linguistically shaped cultural areas or national cultures, of one's own and foreign cultures - for example when talking about western and eastern, European and Asian, Greek and Chinese philosophy - transcultural studies are interested in phenomena of the hybridization of cultures, which necessitate more or less doubting the existence of cultural spaces or national cultures. In its extreme, the comparative dimension touches on a cultural-nationalist, ethnic-racist understanding of cultures, while the transcultural dimension tends to regard cultures as the result of processes of hybridization and thus reject any form of culturalism. In the German-speaking area, intercultural philosophy is still very much reduced to its comparative dimension, which, on the other hand, has led to transcultural approaches being positioned in critical contrast to comparative and intercultural ones. However, this has the unfortunate consequence of being able to perceive comparative approaches only as deficient and regressive and to close the possibility of dealing with the question of why the assumption of cultural areas or national cultures still affects the situation of philosophy in the global world to a great extent and will probably continue to shape it for the foreseeable future. Philosophy and Crisis Awareness in China in the Early 20th Century 193 Culture can only gain meaning against the background of this probing question.3 Liáng's book is one of the first evidence of the systematic development of a comparative perspective in which the confrontation with the West 'moves to the center of the development of academic philosophy in early republican China. It is able to give an impression of the way in which an intercultural discourse based on the contrasting scheme of East and West begins to develop. The aim of the present article is not to introduce either this book or Liáng's philosophical work as a whole; rather, I would first like to concentrate on the relationship between philosophy and experience of crises, and then briefly deal with the historical-philosophical consequences that his considerations lead to. Liáng proposes a way that connects two lines of thought: on the one hand, the comparative analysis of the "roots" of cultures, on the other hand, a diagnosis of the times based on the historical crisis situation, which leads to historical-philosophical speculations about the future of the relationship between Eastern and Western cultures. This double structure had already shaped the theoretical work of important representatives of the failed Hundred-Day Reform of 1898 - Kāng Yǒuwéi (1858–1927), Tán Sìtóng (1865–1898) and Liáng Qǐchāo (1873–1829) - who paved the way for the intercultural reconstruction of Confucian scholarship after the collapse of the empire.4 However, the subsequently emerging New Confucian philosophy was never limited to comparative analyzes of differences and similarities between East and West. Very early on it made the transcultural dynamics of the hybrid modernization of China fruitful for itself and returned to both Chinese and Western sources3 4 Liáng Shùmíng 梁漱溟: Dōngxī wénhuà jí qí zhéxué 《東西 文化 及其 哲學 (Eastern and Western cultures and their philosophies) , in: Liáng Shùmíng quánjí (《梁漱溟 全集》, Collected Works by Liáng Shùmíng) (Jǐnán: Shāndōng rénmín, 2005) I, 331; French translation: Les cultures d'Orient et d'Occident et leurs philosophies, traduit du chinois et annoté par Luo Shenyi, révisé et préfacé par Léon Vandermeersch (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2000) 2. Quotations from these two texts are provided in the The following is evidenced by page numbers in the text, the first number referring to the Chinese edition, the second number to the French edition. For the historical background see Wolfgang Franke: The Century of the Chinese Revolution 1851–1949 (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1959) 65–79. 194 Fabian Heubel took hold. This fact is often overshadowed by a cultural essentialism which, in an alarmist tone, invokes the salvation of China's cultural identity. Thus, in the New Confucian philosophy that emerged after the republican revolution of 1911, irritatingly essentialist questions about cultural roots and sources on the one hand and crisis-conscious diagnoses on the other are mixed up.5 It therefore comes as no surprise that Liang's discussion of Eastern and Western philosophies is frequent is read as an example of a culturally essentialist and culturally nationalist approach, which today is at best still of philosophical historical value. Without wanting to deny the associated problems, my sketchy discussion tries to locate Liángs intercultural discourse in the area of tension between historical experience of crises and comparative culturalism: she reads it as deeply shaped by the complex and confusing dynamics of hybrid modernization in China in the 20th century and opposes reading the book, which reduces it to the position of sinocentric cultural essentialism. II. Westernization or self-reversal How does Liáng Shùmíng explain his perception of the present, which is characterized by agonizing crisis consciousness? Why does he doubt the idea of the "balance" between East and West, which philosophers such as Bertrand Russel and John Dewey had expressed in lectures at Peking University as a future perspective? What is the urgent "urgency of the problem" that he sees? The book says: Let's open our eyes and see how things stand with the so-called problem of Eastern and Western cultures. What is the situation? What we see is basically nothing more than a [culturally] completely westernized (xīfānghuà 西方 化) world! Needless to say, the countries of Europe and America belong entirely to this westernized [western] sphere. As for the countries of the East, only those peoples and nations can withstand the pressure who are able to assimilate and practice [cultural] Westernization; all those who are unable to assimilate westernization in time will be occupied by the powers of westernization. (332/4) 5 For an introduction see Ming-huei Lee: Der moderne Konfuzianismus (Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2001). Philosophy and Crisis Awareness in China in the Early 20th Century 195 He names Japan as an example of a successful assimilation of Westernization, and India, Korea, Vietnam and Burma as counter-examples. On China he then remarks: And also China, the cradle of Easternization [dōngfānghuà 東方 化; or: Eastern culture], is massively suppressed by Westernization [or: Western culture]. With the penetration of westernization, which began a few decades ago, the Chinese, who have been exposed to easternization [or: eastern culture] since ages, cannot avoid changing their lives and making use of westernization! It cannot be denied that our current life, regardless of whether it is spiritual, social or material, is now permeated with westernization. Therefore the current problem is by no means an open struggle between Easternization and Westernization [or: between Eastern and Western cultures], rather it consists in the complete victory of Westernization over Easternization, in their absolute submission! Therefore this question must now be asked: Is the existence of Easternization [or: Eastern culture] at all still possible? (332–333 / 4) 6 6 Here, as in other passages, I translate xīfānghuà 西方 化 with “Westernization” and dōngfānghuà 東方 化 with “Easternization”, even if that reads very cumbersome. Liáng's use of these expressions cannot be reduced to the static juxtaposition of “Western culture” and “Eastern culture”. Significantly, the French translation fluctuates between “l’Occidentalisation” and “culture occidentale” for xīfānghuà, but translates the antipole dōngfānghuà exclusively with “culture orientale” and not with “l’Orientalization”. Liáng Shùming's intention, which is admittedly partially abstruse, but nevertheless captivating in its logical justification, consists precisely in contrasting the westernization of the east with the easternization of the west at least as an equal opportunity and making it plausible in terms of the philosophy of history. A decisive and, from a Western point of view, undoubtedly provocative aspect of Liáng's book is omitted from the French translation. The difficulty of the translation is compounded by the fact that Liáng also uses the expressions customary today for Western and Eastern culture: xīfāng wénhuà 西方 文化 and dōngfāng wénhuà 東方 文化. The common phrase for “westernization” today, namely xīhuà 西化, does not seem to occur. Sometimes Liáng also uses "Sinization" (zhōngguóhuà 中國 化) for "Easternization", which reinforces the impression of a Sinocentric interpretation of "Eastern culture". It should be mentioned that the term culture (s) in German still sounds very static, as if every region and every nation has its ‘own’ culture. The Chinese term for culture (wénhuà 文化), on the other hand, has more dynamic connotations and can literally be translated as “culture transformation”. 196 Fabian Heubel In a world with an overwhelming tendency towards the westernization of the East, is there any room for compromise and reconciliation? Space for the existence of Eastern cultures or even for the tendency towards an Easternization of the West, which could face the Westernization of the East on an equal footing? For on what should the envisaged compromise be based, if not on a reciprocal relationship between the Westernization of the East and the Easternization of the West? In a realistic way, Liáng does not see the conditions of the possibility of such an intercultural discourse based on reciprocity. In view of the historical situation determined by imperialism and colonialism, he considers adherence to the idea of balancing cultures to be self-deception; because the possibility of Easternization and thus the possibility of a future transformation of Chinese culture itself are at stake. It is the experience of an acute danger in the present that motivates his comparative cultural philosophy and gives it the character of urgent urgency. As long as learning from the West is limited to the dimension of technical achievements, Liáng seems to claim to be on "cannons, armor, acoustics, optics, chemistry and electricity" and not the cultural foundations of these achievements, the "cultural roots of the Westens »(333/5), the modernization of China will remain doomed to failure. It took the defeat in the Sino-Japanese War (1895) to awaken the Chinese intellectuals. (333/6) The drastic inadequacy of the fashionable formula towards the end of the 19th century of the preservation of the Chinese “essence” and the “use” of the West (zhōng tǐ xī yòng 中 體 西 用) limited to technology, he urges to a search for the cultural and philosophical roots of the technological superiority of the West (334/7). The enormous difficulties encountered in the young Republic of China's attempts to adapt not only academic but now also modern political institutions (republican constitutional state, parliamentary representation) lead Liáng to the conviction that the fall of the empire in no way would lead to political modernization will follow with necessity. In the republican revolution, which he himself joined in 1911, he now sees only the political "branch" of more fundamental problems: the need for a revolution in thought and the way of life. This was with the movement for philosophy and crisis awareness in China in the early 20th century 197 new culture and the 4thMay movement of 1919 brought to the general consciousness.7 The comparative analysis of Western, Indian and Chinese cultures consequently concentrates on the attempt to understand the philosophical basis of the different attitudes towards life. However, these are not simply contrasted statically with one another; rather, Liáng's main focus is on the transcultural dynamics of their present and future interaction: On the one hand, he has in mind the overwhelming influence of the “Western attitude” in China, but at the same time senses the possibility in extensive cultural-historical speculations the future influence of the "Chinese attitude" in the West. In his reflections, he repeatedly refers to two representatives of radical Westernization, some of whom are also teaching at Peking University - Chén Dúxiù (1879–1942) and Lǐ Dàzhāo (1889–1927) - who developed his ideas at the time when Liáng was developing his ideas on the cultures and philosophies in East and West finally published, have already advanced to co-founders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) (July 1921). The “search for the last roots” now directs our attention to “Westernization [Western culture]” in its entirety and thus to “the problem of the difference between the two cultures”. (335/7) The changed attitude towards western culture leads to a dramatic escalation of the east-west problem: Will westernization lead to easternization and its roots to be uprooted? A change has gradually taken place in the acceptance of the Chinese towards Westernization, which is characterized by the gradual yielding of Easternization to Westernization and the increasing curtailment of Easternization through Westernization! After all branches and leaves have already been removed, the knife should now be placed on the throat! The Sinization [zhōngguóhuà 中國 化; or: the Chinese culture] with its roots! We welcome this kind of 7 After the abolition of the education and examination system based to a large extent on classical Confucian writings (1905), the May 4th Movement marked a radicalization of the criticism of tradition: «Fight against the Confucian tradition», «Propagation of the new western one Ideas of democracy and science ”as well as a“ literary revolution ”, the strongest and most far-reaching consequence of which was to establish a modern written language that was to be more oriented towards the spoken language and no longer towards the highly stylized classical written language. See Wolfgang Franke: China's cultural revolution. The Movement of May 4, 1919 (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1957) 52–63. 198 Fabian Heubel Problem because the previous work on the branch was indeed wasted effort. Now the question is asked about the root of the problem and the time has truly come for a solution to the problem. Without a solution, the Chinese people will not be able to find a viable path! This problem is not a big distant task, rather it is obvious that it is forcing the Chinese to find a solution! Are the Chinese really ready to uproot Sinization [Chinese culture] and its roots? (335/8) Further specifying his analysis of the historical situation, Liáng Shùmíng points to the peculiarities of the Chinese situation: China was able to retain a certain scope for decision-making in the areas of politics and culture; Japan opted for westernization early on; India, Vietnam, Korea and Burma have been westernized by force. In order to continue using this freedom, China must find an orientation that will not be able to develop without dealing with the relationship between Eastern and Western cultures. Liáng Shùmíng can therefore claim that the problem of attitudes towards Western culture is "in China by no means a remote one, but a very urgent one" (336/8). He outlines three possible solutions: the first assumes that Westernization and Easternization are incompatible and impermeable to one another, in order to derive reasons for a radicalization of the reforms in the direction of consequent Westernization; the second sees the possibility of "self-reversal" (fānshēn 翻身) of Easternization against the background of the pressure to westernize; the third way consists in the balancing reconciliation between westernization and easternization (337/9). First of all, it is noticeable that a fourth solution is not even considered as a possibility, namely the fundamentalist rejection of Westernization, which has already been convicted of impossibility by the overpowering compulsion to open up to the West. After Liáng has rejected the path of compensation as a self-deceiving illusion, his discussion focuses on the relationship between the first two possibilities: Does Easternization have to be uprooted or is it capable of self-conversion? What is called self-conversion here means not only that the Chinese make use of Easternization as usual, but that self-conversion makes it possible for Easternization, as Westernization [or: Western culture] did before, to become a world culture - no matter where you are in the world, science and democracy Philosophy and crisis awareness in China in the early 20th century 199 are two things that no one can ignore. Therefore, today the question must be frankly asked: Can Easternization become a world culture through self-reversal? Should it not be able to become a world culture, its existence is fundamentally in question; if it is to continue to exist, it must undoubtedly not only be relevant for China, it must rather become a world culture. The general situation is now such that above all the complete annihilation of the Easternization is recognizable, but not a way of self-conversion. (338/11) Liáng Shùmíng makes it clear that, for China, stopping at the level of a regional culture must be ruled out as an option, because the dynamic of modernization does not tolerate regional self-sufficiency and complacency. To forego the development of the universalistic potential of "Chinese culture" would therefore mean nothing less than the impossibility of its survival under the conditions of modern world culture (s) - the purely folkloristic or ideological exploitation of regional culture for purposes of identity politics obviously falls short of the claim to validity , which Liáng Shùmíng associates with "Easternization" (Eastern culture). Their survival through self-reversal, however, depends crucially on the assimilation of Western culture: Chinese culture as a dynamic process of the "Easternization" of intellectual, social and material life8 can no longer simply accept itself as being given in substance; forced to transform through «westernization» (western culture). This brings into view a dialectical understanding of the Chinese modernization process that is constitutive of contemporary Confucianism, namely the conviction that Confucianism will only be able to survive if it radically expresses itself in the dynamics of modern “Western culture”. What Liáng calls "self-reversal" (fānshēn) or "inverse transformation" (fānzhuǎn) in the introduction to Eastern and Western cultures and their philosophies are attempts to philosophically understand and guide this dynamic: only if one does not succeed The end of a chain of crises and catastrophes accompanied by a philosophical face-to-face experience of modernization, in order to find 8 «Culture», Liáng Shùmíng defines at one point as consisting of three «aspects of popular life»: spiritual life (religion, philosophy, science, art etc.), social life (family, friends, society, state, world) and material life (eating, drinking, living, relationship between humanity and the natural world) (339/12). 200 Fabian Heubel to be able to withstand this kind of mentality at first, there is only hope that a radicalization of self-expression through a return to “one's own” might become possible. Liáng's praise for the uncompromising criticism of tradition by the masterminds of Chinese Marxism he quoted shows how far he was prepared to go on the path of self-renunciation and self-criticism of Chinese culture without ever losing sight of its reconstruction - this ambivalence of his attitude still comes indirectly in Máo Zédōng's "Critique of the reactionary thinking of Liáng Shùmíng" from 1953, in which Liáng rejects criticism of the then tendency towards industrialization of China based on the Soviet model and replies that he wanted to be recognized as a revolutionary, but was in reality an incorrigible reactionary.9 In my opinion, it is this non-essentialist side of the understanding of Chinese culture through which Liáng's discussion of Chinese philosophy goes beyond a regionally limited, comparatively narrowed understanding. He regards the development of science and democracy as a shared task whose universalistic impetus no man and no state can escape. As Easternization opens up to these aspects of Westernization, however, it is drawn into a hybridizing pull that blurs the lines of identity between Eastern and Western cultures (cultures in the sense of civilization and cultivation processes), which have always been reconstructed over and over again. In the desperate courage that is manifested in Liáng's spiritual striving for cultural self-reversal, in the willingness to unreservedly expose himself to the shock of the open and uncertain, I see a transcultural potential in contemporary Chinese-language philosophy, which is overlaid by a tendency towards static cultural comparativeism in Liáng Shùmíng's writing which he himself rejects at the same time in the name of a dynamic understanding of cultures. Liáng's statements leave no doubt that the abandonment of “non-regressive appropriation” 9 Máo Zédōng (Mao Tse-tung): Criticism of Liang Shu-ming's reactionary ideas (September 1953), https://www.marxists.org/reference/ archive / mao / selectedworks / volume-5 / mswv5_35.htm. Cf. Heiner Roetz: The criticism of rule in Confucianism in the Zhou period and its current significance, in: Deutsche Chinagesellschaft, Mitteilungsblatt 1 (2008) 95-107. See also Thierry Meynard: The Religious Philosophy of Liang Shuming: The Hidden Buddhist (Leiden: Brill, 2011) 191–192. Philosophy and Crisis Awareness in China of the Early 20th Century 201 of Tradition ”and a normative reconstruction of the“ universalistic potential of ancient culture ”10 must be mastered if“ Easternization ”or“ Sinization ”meet the claim to entry into the sphere of world culture and World philosophy wants to satisfy. For Liáng Shùmíng, rejecting this universalist claim would mean fundamentally questioning the existence of "Easternization". This view clearly distinguishes him from narrow-minded cultural conservatism. He rejects the self-indulgent closeness of regional cultures as self-deception and goes beyond the framework of comparative studies that tends towards cultural essentialism; He also touches on the question of how “world cultures” and the attitudes to life associated with them in their dynamic plurality and their competing claims to validity should be able to communicate and coexist with one another. In doing so, he encountered problems that were kept up to date. Liáng is aware that the historical situation at the beginning of the 20th century is anything but favorable for the "self-reversal" of Chinese culture that he was striving for. He comes to the conclusion that in the face of the complex challenges of modernization the people of the West - due to the close historical interdependence between modernity and the West - have an enormous advantage: even where the West criticizes the inadequacies and shortcomings of their own culture is expressed, they can naturally draw on their own cultural resources in order to find solutions. However, this path is blocked for China: based on westernization, the view of the people of the West on the future of culture is characterized by coherent transformation (shùnzhuǎn 順 轉). Although they may think that their own culture has great weaknesses, these are never so great that they would make advancement completely impossible: they always see opportunities to change direction and take an alternative cultural path; however, the Easternization has already hit the wall today and sees any further journey blocked for itself. In order to open up new possibilities, it needs the inverse transformation (fānzhuǎn). Without effort and struggle, however, such a reversal transformation is not possible; waiting quietly cannot lead to success. Any solution to this problem is impossible that does not start radically at the roots in order to open up a viable path! (342–343 / 15–16) 10 Heiner Roetz: The Chinese Ethics of the Achsenzeit (Frankfurt aM: Suhrkamp, 1992) 17. 202 Fabian Heubel He asks the representatives of the equalizing reconciliation between East and West how these are among the unfavorable conditions of structural inequality should be able to be realized. Liáng is evidently aware of the fact that the cultural and philosophical development conditions in East and West are very different. From a cultural strategic point of view, he sees China in an extremely difficult situation, namely in a situation in which what he describes as co-rotating transformation, i.e. a solution that merely takes advantage of the situation's tendency, fits in with the situation, is excluded. In contrast, an opposite transformation has to be carried out in China, a reversing swim against the current. To put it bluntly: because the revolution of 1911 was not yet successful, it must be pursued. Although Liáng emerged as a critic of the revolutionary strategy adopted by Máo, until his death he did not revoke his fundamental support for the revolutionary dynamic in China in the 20th century and for the idea of socialism. III. Critical reconstruction and inverse transformation Intercultural philosophy has assumed a specific meaning under the cultural-historical conditions outlined above. Their strongly comparative and in some cases unmistakably cultural essentialist tendency must be seen against the background of an agonizing awareness of the crisis: triggered by the need to find an answer to the challenge of the West. Liáng's analysis thus also provides - ex negativo - reasons for the comparatively poor development of intercultural philosophy in Europe: Problems of the relationship between Eastern and Western cultures never arose here in the 20th century with the urgency that Liángs and other Chinese philosophers wrote speaks. After decades of economic growth and material advancement, there is a strong increase in interest in the complexity of the Chinese way of modernization in the 19th and 20th centuries. China's modernization is thus entering a phase in which perhaps the historical conditions for the possibility of that "third attitude" emerge, which the early Liáng Shùmíng addresses in his book, but which at that time still regarded as "out of date" - rightly as one in the A look back must say, namely "to critically bring out the original Chinese philosophy and awareness of the crisis in China in the early 20th century 203" (528/237). "Critical" is the decisive word here: neither an uncritical return to premodern Chinese culture, nor radical westernization, which seeks to overturn the premodern culture and its roots. Only through the apparent failure of the “second attitude” described by Liáng, namely the “complete takeover of Western culture” (528/237), does the critical reconstruction of China's cultural and historical resources seem to become a force that has a deeper impact on future developments China's exercise promises. The "reversing" or "opposing" transformation of Chinese culture took a path in the course of the 20th century in which the tendency to self-criticism was radicalized in the course of the great proletarian cultural revolution to the self-destructive mass delusion of the mad destruction of tradition - Liáng himself is in In old age he became a victim of the barbarism that emerged as the Cultural Revolution: his library and the manuscript of the book he was working on were burned by the Red Guards in 1966.Liáng's ingenious intuition of a reversed transformation of Chinese culture is of lasting importance not only as a therapeutic agent against blind hostility to tradition, but also against the uncritical affirmation of Chinese identity and individuality that accompanies the compulsive cultural nationalism that at the beginning of the 21st century is justified in striving for culture Self-confidence poisons. Chinese philosophers in the 20th century repeatedly worked on Hegel's comparative culture model of world history. Liáng Shùmíng's study was perhaps so influential not least because it was able - however speculative and experimental - to sketch a development model in which world history dialectically returns to its beginning: to China. The Chinese dream that appears here on the horizon consists in overcoming the West by the means of the West, through the integration of the Western way into the Chinese one. It would be a misunderstanding of the philosophical radicalism of this dialectical model of history if it were seen merely as an affirmation of a traditional, supposedly ahistorical Chinese identity. Because if there can be a saving way out of the existential crisis caused by the West for the Chinese way of life, then only through a revolutionary self-negation, which - with the gesture of an almost inhuman unsentimentality - is ready to defeat the cultural tradition through the fire of Modernization to 204 Fabian Heubel push through. Through the westernization, the renaissance of the precocious Chinese culture from a world-historical perspective should at least become conceivable as a possibility, if its universalistic content should be able to develop under modern conditions. There are three characteristic moments of the western way of life, in which Liáng finally tries to explain the dialectical overcoming of western modernity: mastery of nature, democracy and science. Under the conditions of Chinese modernization, it only makes sense to strive for the much-invoked unity of nature (heaven) and man after an objectifying relationship to nature has been achieved; speaking of ego or subjectlessness only makes sense after the ego has taken shape and freed itself from political authoritarianism; speaking of intuition only makes sense after a rational mind has been established. Only after Chinese culture has undergone a "reverse transformation" in the three areas of nature and the world, of subjectivity and democracy, and of rationality and science, Liáng seems to want to claim, is the basis for a critical resumption of the "original Chinese attitude »Prepares (529/238). It is only when such a critically broken renaissance of traditional culture is realized that the conditions for the possibility are created in order to be able to bring the universalistic content of Chinese cultural transformation to bear in a meaningful way. From the very sketchy discussion of the intercultural philosophy of the young Liáng Shùmíng it can be concluded that after the revolutionary upheavals in China since the 19th century, a naive, uncritical return to the premodern “Chinese attitude” is doomed to failure - if it is propagated, it takes an ideologically deluded character that belongs in the history of pathological attempts to resolve the paradoxes of the hybrid modernization of China. As soon as intercultural philosophy fixes "Chinese thinking" on a premodern, supposedly more original state, the radical hostility to tradition, which reached its destructive climax in the great proletarian cultural revolution, threatens to turn into a no less radical transfiguration of tradition. Both attitudes testify to an unfree relationship to the past. Chinese-language philosophy in the 20th century has been part of a complex dynamic of hybrid modernization. She can find freedom only by coming to terms with and recognizing this dynamic. Their world-philosophical content is also hidden in such a liberation from the cultural compulsion to identify.
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