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  Chinese Way>Life

Confucianism is more about way of life

2010-01-14 09:33:32

(China Daily) By Yao Ying


Even the Yangtze River Delta region, with all its talents and economic power, doesn't have good universities except in big cities such as Nanjing and Shanghai. Kunshan, an industrial city in Jiangsu province and home to about half a million Taiwan businesspeople, does not have a single institution of higher education. Many enterprises don't even try to retain talented people who could lead them toward sustainable growth.

At the national level, education faces a different kind of problem: uneven distribution of resources. The bulk of government fund goes to the 100-odd key universities and colleges. For example, only three universities are designated as key institutions in Hunan, although the province is about the size of Britain. The rest of the universities and a large number of colleges have to struggle for funds. The case is similar in many other provinces and regions, says Kung, who is former president of Taiwan-based Fokuang and Nanhua universities.

Confucius tried to make education accessible to students from all classes. And education has been an equalizing force since then. Kung's personal experience bears testimony to this. He was born in a poor family, removed from science, philosophy and the arts. But thanks to his education he could still read Chinese classics, albeit with the help of his teacher. This transformed him from a teenager good at street fights into a scholar.

Confucianism is more about way of life The widening income gap, however, has now made it even more difficult for poor children to go in for higher studies and change their fate. The wealth divide is actually insulating the social classes further.

Of course, the government has to raise its spending on education, Kung says. But it should allow more non-public investors to open schools, too. In Taiwan and Hong Kong, many religious organizations run schools. But on the mainland, Kung says, they rarely do so.

Buying and selling diplomas, plagiarizing theses and the flood of insignificant papers in journals pose another type of threat to higher education, and thus to the basic tenet of Confucianism.

And then we have people who lambasted Confucianism during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) but today claim to be Confucian scholars. How can we take their thoughts and writings seriously? Kung says.

We should understand Confucianism is a philosophy of practice. It is not just readings of an ancient text to pass exams or write books or to sermonize on. A true Confucian scholar is also a Confucian follower. He has to practice what Confucius taught. But how many people do that?

Under such circumstances, how can we say Confucianism is undergoing resurrection?

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