«China-West Interculture Kuangming Wu Philosophy Department, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI, USA Received 3 March 2016; accepted 2 May ...»
Open Journal of Philosophy, 2016, 6, 176-183
Published Online May 2016 in SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/ojpp
Philosophy Department, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI, USA
Received 3 March 2016; accepted 2 May 2016; published 5 May 2016
Copyright © 2016 by author and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Abstract After a brief introduction, “cultures: multi-culture, cross-culture, interculture”, this essay proceeds in two major sections, “China and the West in Contrast” on how China and the West inter-differ, and “China and the West in Interculture” on how China and the West interculture. First, three ac- tual examples are cited to show how the West is digital, analytical, in either-or, while China is concrete, subtle, in both-and. Next, logic, time, music, kids, etc., are cited to tell of how China and the West inter-differ to inter-critique to inter-correct, to compose the hope of the world. The vast, exciting, and crucial theme of world interculture, concrete and general, is thus compressed in less than twenty pages. Global interculture is so vast that any essay on it risks playing with vague ge- nerality. This essay concretely details two extremely contrasting cultures, the West and China, even on general time, logic, and grammar, starkly how the centralities of eternity and time are re- versed, how logic is all bare in the West but turned invisible as bone-structure in China, and how the West strictly enforces explicit grammar while China subtly slides from one word-category to another. Typically, elusive “no do” unintelligible in the West but constantly concrete is story-ex- plained to highlight the West-China contrast. Concrete elucidation of general “global interculture” makes this short essay significant.
Keywords Culture, West, Interculture, Analytical, Concrete, Global
1. Introduction After a brief introductory section, “cultures: multi-culture, cross-culture, interculture”, this essay proceeds in two major sections; it begins with “China and the West in Contrast” on how China and the West inter-differ, followed by a much longer section, “China and the West in Interculture” on how China and the West recipro- cally practice interculture one to the other to thrive the life world.
First, three actual examples are cited to show how the West is digital, analytical, in either-or, while China is How to cite this paper: Wu, K. M. (2016). China-West Interculture. Open Journal of Philosophy, 6, 176-183.
concrete, subtle, in both-and. Next, logic, time, music, kids, etc., are cited to tell of how China and the West inter-differ to inter-critique to inter-correct, to compose the hope of the world. The vast, exciting, and crucial theme of world interculture, concrete and general, is thus compressed in less than twenty pages.
2. Cultures: Multi-Culture, Cross-Culture, Interculture Our tiny Global Village is crowded with so many cultures; our world is multicultural. And so we tend to hop across cultures from one to the other. But our cross-culture gives us culture-shock, and so we shrink into mesupreme culture-chauvinism, “our culture, right or wrong!” We are right; you are wrong! Conflicts and wars break out. We then have no choice but to inter-culture, to inter-learn to inter-correct to inter-fecundate.
But, saying all this above sounds distant and irrelevant to our daily living. The situation is indeed much more urgent, close to our skin, than we think, as the following common examples show. Is that car moving or staying put? Is the earth flat or round? Is that gaunt taciturn man insane or saintly? They are both moving and not-moving (car), flat and round (earth), and insane and saintly (fellow), both at once unintelligible, until we carefully distinguish how we see and think of these things. It goes this way.
The car is moving if seen from outside, but it is not-moving (the world is zooming past it) when seen from its inside. The earth is clearly vast-flat, seen standing in the midst of wide grassy field, but it is clearly round when astronauts see it from outer-space. That gaunt man is insane to us Americans, but he is the much revered leader in a tribe. “Trance” is mental illness among Americans, but it is much treasured and revered among tribes (Benedict, 1934, 1961). Without how we see and think, things are so jumbled up that we cannot even live.
This “how we see”, this perspective on things, is culture. Culture is the stuff of which life is made. We live our culture. But now, we realize that our life world is filled with so many cultures. It is well-nigh impossible to study them all. Fortunately, we see that two cultures are quite in radical contrast if not standing out most conspicuously. They are China and the West.
The West is abstract, analytical, ever in logical either-or. China tends actual, subtle, to both-and. Most cultures can be seen as lying between these two extremes. It would be instructive to study how they differ, to interculture. This is what this essay will do. Since the world today tends to take the West as dominant if not solely “proper”, we will purposely tilt to China; the West will be described almost unfairly.
2.1. China and the West in Contrast Three examples are given here, to highlight the contrast between China and the West, 1 + 1 as 2 or not, “square” and “round” as exclusive or not, and “no do” outside “do” exclusive of “not do”. In them, the West is consistently digital and precise, analytical and systematic, and comprehensive and restrictive. China is opposed to them all in the West. All this is quite a sight to behold. We now go into them one by one.
Our first example is that well-known “1 + 1 = 2” a favorite of Western thinking, saying that 1 + 1 simply, absolutely, and logically must be 2 alone, not 1.9, not 2.1. Here the West is digital and precise, eternally abstract.
But then here comes China, insisting “not quite so”. “1 + 1” deposited in a slot machine can come out a zero.
One spouse plus another spouse can produce more than 2 children. And of course one load of explosives plus one spark can produce thousands of splinter-pieces. So, “1 + 1” can be “0”, several, and a thousand, all depends on how an actual situation goes.
Interestingly, the last example of explosives with a spark is proposed by a master logician Whitehead (1910-1913). He was so extra-logically sensitive enough to explode logic with this example of exploding explosives, to conclude, “The [logical] exactness is a fake”. In his “Immortality”, Whitehead (1961) did not go beyond this negative blast on Western logic. We go beyond the West to interculture with concrete China. This blast was his last public statement; it was quite a significant death knell to logical thinking that is analytical and precise, in the West.
Our second example is if square and round is exclusive vs. not. Western geometry would of course insist that square is square, round is round, and the twain shall never mix or meet for all eternity. The West is here quite analytical and eternally separative. Meanwhile, China would cite just one concrete counterexample. Look at the plump healthy baby our treasure; her face is actually a round square so irresistible!
Her face as a perfect round square is what is priceless that grabs our heart and soul. Her future is also a round square, as her round square face tells that her tomorrow is displayed today; she is the “tomorrow today”, as impossible to mix as a round square! Her face cannot be brushed aside because she is starkly present right here
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now, smiling in her Mom’s embrace. No logical reasoning can oppose an actual case, now can it?
Our third and final example is “no do”, that elusive “wu wei”, outside usual “do, wei” exclusive of “not do, pu wei”. We just said “elusive”, but “no do” is elusive for the West alone whose thinking has only “do” and “not do” as the all-comprehensive repertoire of action, quite restrictive. For all its elusiveness in Western logic, however, “no do” is quite common and concrete, as China smiles and says, “Here is its ordinary example quite usual”.
Tommy was shouting and playing, all in so much fun, when Mom suddenly called, “It’s time for your nap, Tommy”. Wow, he turned so angry, shouting at Mom, “No! No! No nap!” For him, “nap” is a dirty word; the world was so exciting that it can ill afford missing by napping for Tommy! But his angry shouting clearly shows how badly he needs a nap! Have need of nap but don’t want it—Mom has a dilemma on her hand, for Tommy.
Now, Mom cannot simply let him go; in his fatigue he would stumble and get hurt. She cannot practice “no do” on him. Still, Mom cannot grab him and push him into bed, with a shout, “Sleep!” Such tactic of “do” would start WWIII! We know Tommy is the flesh of her flesh to Mom; Mom must perform some practice outside “do” and “not do”. But “do” and “not do” exhaust all alternatives to Western thinking. Look at the miserably unintelligible explanation of “wu wei” as “non-purposive action” by logical Munro (who taught logic-obsessed Chad Hansen). How could an act be “non-purposive?” Is such acting a purposeless wandering (Munro, 1969)?
Mom in her bodily intimate love then naturally says, trailing Tommy, “OK, Tommy. No nap for you. Just come sit here on your bed, but don’t nap, OK? I’m going to tell you your favorite story. OK?” Tommy agrees to this delicious deal and comes and sits on his bed. Mom slowly begins, “O-n-c-e u-p-o-n a t-i-m-e, a long, long time ago, there lived an old lady named ‘Tiger Dame’”. Tommy hits his pillow. Mom tucks him in, in such “no do” of love so tender so natural!
Now, looking back, we see that all three examples have one feature in common. They are championed by Western thinking that is abstract, precise, in either-or, and such logic is consistently opposed by softly concrete citations of actual situations irresistibly ordinary and common. We can clearly discern the stark difference between Western culture and Chinese culture, one is
either-or, another, disarmingly concrete. Three more examples, all general, time, logic, and grammar, will be concretely explained to highlight the stark China-West contrast as abstract vs. concrete, logic vs. storytelling.
On the whole, then, we must agree with the master logician Whitehead on the plight of Western logic, that the exactness of logic there is a fake. This is a sad tragedy. Still, sadly, the above threefold story-argument, in concrete way from actuality, amounts to justifying Whitehead’s judgment. But of course it is so easy to poke holes in a fake system. Nothing has been done on building up a positive tapestry of reasoning in actuality. China has a job cut out for it. How can China do it? To think of it, the above way of arguing is itself already an enactment of concrete thinking, story-argued, that trails the pearl-way through concrete actual things; the pearl-way is of course the Li 理 (Ding, 1959), the Tao. Such trailing reasoning in actuality on actuality must itself happen actually, never contrived. Spontaneity of this reasoning shows its authenticity. What must be done here is to develop actuality-reasoning systematically. “System” here is the system of Mother Nature. Of course “system” has many senses. See “Four Senses of ‘Being Systematic’” (Wu, 2010, 2012).
It has been my contention for decades that China has a distinctive fourfold mode of thinking, all uniquely its own; Chinese thinking is an alternative to abstract analytical logic of the West. China’s reasoning is in four prongs, concrete thinking and story thinking based on body thinking in music reasoning (Wu, 1997, 1998, 2010, 2011). In fact, we have just enacted such concrete thinking.
All the above reasoning by examples enacts story thinking. Specifically, Mom’s wu wei on her beloved Tommy came from her body thinking on Tommy her bone of bones, her flesh of flesh. And all such reasoning is concrete thinking, all chanting delightful music with Tommy the kid. But an overall completed tapestry is still far off in the future, to dawn China’s actuality-reasoning. Bruckner’s rare String Quintet, quite long, undergoes chanting “harmony in dissonance”; it is an ideal community of interculture antiphonal, coming over us so rare now yet. Music sings future.
Sadly, Bruckner’s singing vision of the united nations of united cultures is still far, far off. Bloodshed is rampant everywhere mostly due to racial prejudices, such as anti-Semitism, anti-blacks, anti-Koreans (sin Japan), and the like. Birds of a feather naturally flock together, usually, but consanguineous marriage among siblings is an assured deterioration in blood and in culture. Birds of a feather are absolutely of no help at all. Birds of different bloods invigorate.
The key issue here is “difference”: “You differ, so you are rejected” is a natural but terrible mistake on all counts. Difference is the crucial key to inter-fecundation toward progress in every sense. Cultivation of reverence
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for difference, cherishing differences, is indispensable to world interculture. Interculture essentially implicates inter-mixing and inter-learning to inter-enriching all of us. No-difference implies no inter-renovation; it is death of all things.
We have indicated so far above the differences between the West and China. The theme deserves detailing a bit. These differences are shown in the writings that record differences in the way each culture thinks. In China, “small 小 ([minutely] ｜ divided ハ)”, is a little different from “few 少”. “Name 名” is my mouth 口 shouting “Hey, it’s me! Don’t shoot!” at dusk 夕. “Marriage 婚” occurs when taking a woman 女 in the evening dark 昏 (Ding, 1959).