T11a Chinese and European views of the individuals and society (WT11) - 中欧社会论坛 - China Europa Forum

T11a Chinese and European views of the individuals and society (WT11)

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Date: July 9-11, 2010 Location: Zhejiang University Lingfeng Hotel


Workshop presentation

Workshop’s Presentation from an European point of view :
On both sides and for many centuries, the comparison between Chinese and European societies has been a subject of surprise, comparison and reflection. All societies are called on to respond to fundamental questions, such as the individual and the community, the nature of morality, the conception and the bases of social order, and the existence and role of principles that transcend human societies. All societies are led to say what is a « good life » and what is a « good society ». These conceptions have varied over the centuries, and societies and cultures are constantly influencing one another. Yet, it seems established that the cultural matrix inherited from history continues, through multiple metamorphoses, to influence the representation that individuals and societies make of themselves and of their relationships with others.

Many misunderstandings in the dialogue between societies or between cultures result from the fact that the representations that are the grounds for each of them and that give their meaning to words used, to attitudes and to behaviours are poorly interpreted or deformed due to the ignorance of these cultural codes. This is sometimes because we ignore the bases and the coherence of the representations of the other when interpreting what he understands by good, evil, power, virtue, prestige, happiness or harmony; or, on the other hand because we underestimate the cultural transformations taking part on both sides, especially under mutual influence.

It’s this dual perspective, on the one hand comparative and respectful of differences, and on the other fluid and attentive to the transformations, that will guide the workshop. It starts from the hypothesis that this analysis is not reserved to specialists, but that its main dimensions and contents are essential to balanced and respectful dialogue between Chinese and European societies.

In addition to the above, this workshop would like to address the issue of how the contemporary European and Chinese societies strive to be harmonious, sustainable societies. In this respect, values and behaviors which are growing among the populations of most industrialized countries can be decisive levers to favor a harmonious society and a sustainable economy. The question thus rises if these phenomena are similar in European and in the Chinese society.

The socio-cultural observations, which took place in North America and Europe since the Fifties, show an expansion of transformations of people, social field and cultures behind which take place some encouraging axes. The behaviors of people and their networks change and are moved in direction of harmony, peace, the blooming and sense of living; they carry the development of values of being and wellbeing rather than of acquisition and competition; female postures rather than virile; they produce self-organizations and fertile self-regulations likely to nourish the development of more harmonious and inter-adaptive relations between people, networks and collectivities.

A new-spiritual and moral revival is at hand. It appears since the Eighties by an awakening of the need for sense and of the search for spiritual/emotional experiments. This revival manifests itself by the starting of a “social machine” to produce new values and a new ‘daily-life’ moral. It could find synergies with such Christian values as “love each other”, values that are also found in Buddhism, with Confucianism, with Daoism…

In the civil society, waves of collective intelligence and networks emerge and are likely to weigh on the effective decisions of the public authorities (national, international or planetary), of the companies and of the intermediate bodies.

for Chinese presentation

Topics for debates

First part:
- How to prevent a cultural globalisation along with an economic globalization?
- In discussing the individual and the society, the communalities more than the differences should be stressed
- Identifying a kind of systematic comparative system over both societies in order to seek solutions
- Discussing the influence of modern technology in European and Chinese present-day societies
- How to prevent consumerism to become the major force in modern society?
- Keeping in mind that in a globalizing world, the individual and society in China and Europe are facing the same problems
- Identifying, in China and in Europe, the values which are currently leading to a sustainable and harmonious society
- Identifying, in China and in Europe, the behaviors which result from this in various fields (economy, finance, urban policy, social life, medicine, education, food, environment, etc…).

For these themes, following issues should be discussed: · the main obstacles; · the themes that are object of controversies and for which reflections and exchanges should be deepened; · the experiences viewed as the most promising; · the cooperation to initiate or to pursue.

Second part:
- Focus points common for all the workshops: the four common themes identified in the synthesis of the conclusions of the 46 workshops of the second biennial:
Challenge 1: the model of development to move toward a sustainable and harmonious society/ Challenge 2: tradition and modernity; openness and identity/ Challenge 3: a more integrated and participative governance/ Challenge 4: the responsibility of China and Europe as global players

- Discussion on how the workshop enriches the reflection on each of the four common challenges, focusing on the most important challenges for the workshop. Identification for each challenge: the obstacles, the experiences,· the perspectives of solution,· the common actions to take.

About us

Prime movers In China : Zhejiang University, Hangzhou

- Professor ZHONG Ping, Director of Philosophy department, School of Humanities, Zhejiang University
- Professor HE Shanmeng, Philosophy Department, School of Humanities, Zhejiang University

In Europe : University of Ghent – Sinology Department
- Prof. Dr. Bart Dessein: Professor /Head of the Eastern Languages and Cultures - Sinology Department- Ghent University Provisional title of presentation: “Self-assurance and Self-denial- The Chinese Individual and His Relation to Society (first part-comparative historical framework)”
- Dra Mieke Matthyssen : Researcher Eastern Languages and Cultures - Sinology Department-Ghent University, Eastern Languages and Cultures - Sinology Department- Ghent University Provisional title of presentation: “Self-assurance and Self-denial -The Chinese Individual and His Relation to Society (second part: contemporary China)”

- Prof. dr. Günter Wohlfart: He is professor (emeritus) of philosophy at Wuppertal University with a strong interest in Chinese Daoist philosophy; currently living in France www.guenter-wohlfart.de Presentation proposal: „Kant’s moral egocentrism and universalism versus Kongzi’s ‘communitarian’ moral reciprocity and Mengzi’s compassion.“

- Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Möller: He is a trained sinologist with strong interest in the system’s theory of Niklas Luhmann, applying this to Chinese thought. He was Professor at Brock University, Canada, and is now at Cork (Ireland). Senior Lecturer University College Cork Department of Philosophy Cork (Ireland) Presentation proposal: „The Modern (Western) Concept of Individuality as Analyzed by Niklas Luhmann “—and a Comparison of this Concept with Ancient Chinese Views on Individuality.

- Vincent Commenne: After a « classical » beginning of career in a multinational, Vincent COMMENNE was for 5 years responsible for TRIODOS, an ethical bank in French-speaking Belgium. He is today coordinator of the European Network for Responsible consumption, composed of individuals and 60 organisations committed in Sustainable Development, Fair Trade, Social Justice and Ethical Funding. Vincent Commenne is also leading a research group on Social Responsibility of the companies, working on the five continents. Presentation related to the theme ‘’Evolution of values and related behaviors in Europe aiming to achieve a sustainable and harmonious society’

Workshop’s news

Date Arrangement Location
July 9 14:00-18:00 Registration Zhejiang University Lingfeng Hotel
18:00 Dinner Dinning Hall
July 10 9:00-10:45 Topic Introduction; Free Discussion
11:00-11:50 Working Method Introduction
12:00-13:30 Lunch Break
14:00-15:30 Discuss on the Four Challenges around the topic (by using working method) Meeting Room
15:30-15:50 Tea Break
15:50-17:50 Continue Discussing
18:00 Dinner Dinning Hall
July 11 9:00-12:00 Symposium with rabbi from Hangzhou Buddism College Hangzhou Buddhism College
12:00-13:30 Lunch (Vegetarian Diet) Fajing Temple
14:00-17:30 Visit Faxijiang Temple
Dinner Dinning Hall in Lingfeng Hotel
July 12 8:00-12:00 Set out to Hongkong Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport
12:00-15:00 Registration The Hong Kong Polytechnic University